An trail with the name “Goldmine” is sure to attract its share of visitors and it’s no different for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Goldmine Loop Trail. It also helps that it’s a rather short trail that can be hiked over the course of a few hours.
Located on the North Carolina side of the Smokies, the Goldmine Loop Trail is a 2-mile trail that begins at its junction with the Lakeshore Trail and ends at its intersection with the Tunnel Bypass Trail. Highlights include its meeting point with backcountry campsite No. 67, access to Fontana Lake, and a few old homesteads located along the trail.
To get there, hikers must take the Lakeshore Trail for a mile, which is located at the end of Lakeview Drive.
It’s probably safe to say that if you’re looking for gold along this trail, good luck finding it. It was more than likely named for an overzealous prospector. The trail itself begins on a ridge then begins a steep descent. You’ll pass by an old home site before passing by an old chimney on your right. A stream also lies at the site as well as an old washtub and other remnants of a once thriving farm.
The trail continues and follows the Goldmine Branch that creeps and crawls over the mountain before reaching Fontana Lake. Another homestead is reached at 0.75 miles on the trail. The rock-lined cellar of the home still remains. It’s said that wild hogs may have made their way around the site at some point due to its disjointed remains.
You’ll have to leave the trail at 0.9 miles to reach backcountry campsite No. 67 for about 300 yards. It’s considered a gently-used campsite and another old homestead can be found there as well.
The trail then follows Goldmine Branch down 0.2 miles to Fontana Lake. You’ll come to the trail’s end at 2 miles in at the Tunnel Bypass Trail. From here, you can hike to the parking area 0.4 miles on Lakeview Drive.