Highlights: Waterfalls, Cascades, Historic Artifacts, and Home Sites
Round Trip: 8.2 Miles, though waterfalls and other sights are much closer
Elevation Gain: 1140 FT
Directions: This easy hike is located in the Tremont area of the national park only a short drive from the Tremont Institute.
From Gatlinburg and Sugarlands Visitor Center, turn right onto the Little River Gorge Road towards Cades Cove.
Continue 17.5 miles and on the way you'll pass Elkmont, Metcalf Bottoms, and the "Wye" at Townsend. After the Townsend Wye, continue 0.2 miles towards Cades Cove, but turn left onto Tremont Rd.
Drive 2.1 miles on the paved section of Tremont Rd. until you pass the Institute at Tremont. At this point, the way becomes a gravel road that continues for another 3.1 miles. The road ends at the trailhead to the Middle Prong Trail and you'll find a parking area near a metal bridge.
Please Note: Occasionally, the unpaved part of Tremont Rd. is closed for snow and ice in the winter. Call the national park service to check on road closure information.
Middle Prong Trail is a gorgeous waterfall hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Though the whole trail is a 8.2 mile round-trip, the rewards come early for this beautiful hike. Plus, this trail offers a look back into the history of the Smokies.
Tremont was once a small logging community. On this hike, you will see evidence of this areas history as a logging camp. The Middle Prong Trail follows a rail road that was once used to transport timber from the mountains. In the 1930s, the CCC worked to convert this old rail road bed to the trails hikers enjoy today.
On your way, you can still see evidence of Tremont's past as a logging community. Look for old rail road tracks, metal cables, chimneys, and even an old jalopy from the 1920s can be seen near this trail.
Middle Prong Trail Description
This easy hike follows Lynn Camp Prong, a gorgeous mountain stream with several cascades and waterfalls. Since much of this hike follows an old rail-road grade, this trail is wide and has few steep sections.
The trail begins by crossing a metal foot bridge at the confluence of Lynn Camp Prong and Thunderhead Prong, two lovely mountain streams. The hike is gorgeous the entire way and is less crowded than many other waterfall hikes in the Smokies.
After only 0.4 miles, hikers will see Lower Lynn Camp Falls, a large cascading waterfall. The trail is high above the waterfall, so you'll enjoy excellent views of this tall cascade.
At 0.6 Miles in, hikers will reach Lynn Camp Falls, a short waterfall with a nice swimming hole. On this portion of the path, there are many areas to stop near the water to admire and explore the creek.
After the first mile, the gravel road becomes increasingly rocky but continues following the stream up the mountain. Around 2.3 miles from the trailhead, the trail forks onto Panther Creek Trail. If you want to see Indian Flats Falls, continue on Middle Prong Trail. Just before you reach the end of the Middle Prong Trail, you'll cross a wooden bridge. There are several large, metal cables strewn about this area that were once used for hauling logs.
The last waterfall is 4 miles from the trailhead. Indian Flats Falls can be found by taking an unmarked trail off to the right. This trail will bring you to the middle tier of the falls, but there is an upper and lower tier that can be reached with some bushwhacking.
At the end of the Middle Prong Trail, it forks into two new trails. The Greenbrier Ridge Trail continues up the mountain to the Appalachian Trail for another 4.2 miles and the Lynn Camp Prong Trail leads to back country campsite #28.
Middle Prong Trail Tips
- Visit After Rainy Weather - This trail is especially impressive after rainy weather – the waterfalls and cascades are even more stunning.
- Spring Hike - this low-elevation hike is an excellent route for finding wildflowers.
- Summer Hike - there are several pools and cascades along this trail that make great swimming holes.
- Fall Hike - the changing foliage is gorgeous so be sure to bring a camera!
- Peace and Quiet - Middle Prong Trail is a less crowded hiking trail in the park.
- Beginner Trail - This hike is a great trail for beginners. The trail steadily climbs the mountain, but the route is never steep for very long.
Looking for a cabin close to easy hikes like the Middle Prong Trail? Our cabins in Wears Valley, TN allow guests easy access to this part of the Smokies with both the Metcalf Bottoms entrance and Townsend entrance to the national park!
Middle Prong Trail Trailhead
Townsend, TN 37882
Written by Hayden Brown