If you’re looking a pretty good 9-miler in the Smokies, look no further than the Hannah Mountain Trail which stretches from Parson Branch Road to the junction of the Hatcher Mountain and Abrams Falls trails at Abrams Creek.
This is a great trail for taking in some spectacular Smoky Mountain views as you’ll be doing a fair share of ridge hiking as you make your way along the 9.5 mile trail.
To get to the trailhead at Sams Gap, make your way to Cades Cove in Townsend, Tn and start out on the Cades Cove Loop Road. From there, you’ll turn off Loop Road just past the Cable Mill historic structure and follow the signs to Parsons Branch Road. The trailhead at Sams Gap is 4 miles from the start of Parsons Branch Road.
This easy walking trail begins its ascent up the ridge and through a beautiful wooded area before you reach a large tulip tree – the first significant natural marker found along the trail, 1.9 miles in.
Mount Lanier is reached by way of the Hannah Mountain Trail. It’s also the highest peak on the trail. Hikers descend Lanier toward Bell Cove in to a mixed hardwood forest of hickory, maple, and hemlock among other species.
Hiking around the north end of Hannah Mountain, you soon find yourself coming upon Flint Gap and backcountry campsite No. 14. Flint Gap gets its name from the blue flint that was once found in this section of the national park.
Continuing on the trail, you’ll find that it tends to curve back before passing what remains of a large chestnut tree. At one time there was a cabin that sat in the area just past the fallen chestnut which was home to several pioneer families.
The next portion of the Hannah Mountain Trail starts out at a climb. This is known as Polecat Ridge and it goes on to descend to Scott Gap 7.6 miles along the trail. Backcountry campsite No. 16 is located around 100 yards below Scott Gap. A quick suggestion, if you’re planning on camping at this campsite get there early, especially on weekends. It’s a rather popular spot in the park.
The rest of the Hannah Mountain hike will be a fairly steep ascent to the Abrams Creek junction. You’ll have to ford the creek yourself to get across. Hope you enjoyed the Hannah Mountain Trail!