The 6.9 mile Bote Mountain Trail will challenge even the most experienced of hikers among you.
This somewhat rocky hike is accessed via Laurel Creek Road, which is 3.5 miles from the Townsend “Y”. Hikers can park at the Schoolhouse Gap trailhead, nearly 250 years past the Bote Mountain trailhead going toward Cades Cove in Townsend, Tn.
History surrounds the Bote Mountain Trail as during the 1800’s, James Spence tended the Cades Cove farmer’s cattle in a majestic meadow that became known as Spence Field. Hiking the Bote Mountain trail to Spence Field affords the hiker intermittently rocky terrain and rhododendron covered footpaths.
The trail ascends for 1.2 miles before meeting with the junction of the West Prong Trail. Soon you’ll come across another meeting place, this time with the Finley Cane Trail. This is where the climb up Bote Mountain really starts. The sounds of the West Prong accompany the hiker up the flanks of the mountain.
You can almost see James Spence and the Cades Cove farmer’s cattle he tended climbing the slopes as you head up the Bote Mountain Trail. In those days, as it would now, it must have been a difficult climb. It was the grass at the higher elevations that made the effort to push the cattle to such heights worthwhile. It’s said that the high mountain grass was better for the cattle than that found on the Cades Cove valley floor and the considerable reduction in heat and flies in the higher altitudes made for a much more comfortable grazing experience.
Once the peak of Bote Mountain is reached, notice the views of Thunderhead and Defeat ridge. It could be argued that these are a few of the best vistas in the Smokies. From here to the junction with the Lead Cove Trail, the views are breathtaking.
The Anthony Creek Trail joins the hiker at mile 5.2 and descends 3.6 miles to the Cades Cove Picnic Area. Hike on to Spence Field where you’ll come to the junction with the Appalachian Trail and you’ve now fully experienced the Bote Mountain Trail.
Numerous visitors who have hiked the Bote Mountain trail have come to look upon people like James Spence as a very lucky man. His was a life spent overlooking Cades Cove from his mountain paradise. Through its view alone, the Bote Mountain trail is one of the most rewarding to originate in Cades Cove and the entire Smoky Mountains.