3 Ways To Hike Via Indian Grave Gap Trail

Indian Grave Gap: 3 Ways To Hike Via Indian Grave Gap Trail

by Peter Barnes

Discover the Indian Grave Gap Trail. One of the trail’s highlights for visitors is the flaming azalea, a wildflower that is well-known in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Crooked Arm Ridge and Scott Mountain trail intersection is reached after a 3.7-mile journey on the Indian Grave Gap Trail from Rich Mountain Road just outside Cades Cove, and the scenery isn’t terrible either.

Geological Details

  • 35.62374208534829, -83.81556860301842
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 3.7 mi
  • Elevation gain: 1,991 ft
  • Route type: Loop
3 Ways To Hike Via Indian Grave Gap Trail
Photo – Pinterest

Kid friendly Camping, hiking, horseback riding, walking, running, views of a waterfall, wildflowers, and wildlife are all examples of outdoor activities. No dogs.

Ended October by hiking the Indian Grave Gap Trail to Indian Grave Gap. This trail, in my opinion, is more challenging than a moderate trail. There were numerous squirrels and chipmunks on the trail, but no large creatures. Two bear excrement marks were visible on the mountain.

The route looked lovely with the vibrant leaves on the trees and the ground. There is no simple way up because the trail’s highest point is located around halfway along. Like other reviews have noted, there is also no expansive vista. Small glimpses in between the trees and views of trees that have already lost their leaves are all that are present instead.

The Indian Grave Gap Trail is a pleasant and simple walk, but take caution when descending. It was difficult to see what was beneath your feet since there were so many leaves. If you have hiking poles, I believe you should bring them. They prevented me from falling severely on this trail and saved me twice.

The Great Indian Grave Gap via Indian Grave Gap Trail

indian grave gap
Photo – Ourbigescape.com


From Cades Cove to the starting point of the Indian Grave Gap Trail, there is a gravel road called Rich Mountain Road. You can’t get there in the winter. Rich Mountain Loop Trail, Rich Mountain Trail, and Crooked Arm Ridge Trail are also nearby.

The shuttle hike to Rocky Mountain begins at the Rocky Mountain Trail on USFS 283, which is a short 800-foot slope (Indian Grave Gap Road). You are simply pulling off the woodland road; there isn’t a designated parking area here.

The Indian Grave Gap Trail’s first 2.3 miles climb at a typical pace of roughly 489 feet per mile. The trail descends slightly as you reach the ridge and is a pleasant stroll along the ridge. The trail connects with the Rich Mountain Loop Trail after 1.1 miles. To reach Cades Cove, take the 3.4-mile Rich Mountain Loop Trail.

A side road at 1.4 miles leads 200 feet to an open nob where a fire tower’s foundation still exists. The trail connects with Rich Mountain Trail at 1.9 miles, and the latter travels 2.3 miles beyond to Rich Mountain Road at the park’s edge. The trail comes to a conclusion 2.2 miles away at the intersection of the Rich Mountain Loop Trail, Scott Mountain Trail, and Crooked Arm Ridge Trail.

You can instantly notice a sign indicating that you are on the Rocky Mountain Trail after leaving USFS 283. The Rocky Mountain Trail meets the Appalachian Trail at a position 1.0 miles uphill from there. After making a left here, continue up the A.T. in a southerly direction for an additional 0.4 miles until you reach Rocky Mountain (4017 feet).

A little rock outcrop with a nice view of Yonah Mountain and the south is reached by the AT on Rocky Mountain after passing a small campsite. So this is a wonderful day trip if you want to spend a few hours on the trail. Rocky Mountain to Indian Grave Gap is 1.2 miles and 904 feet downhill on the Appalachian Trail (3113 feet). This 2.6-mile hike is completed with a shuttle.

At Indian Grave Gap on the Appalachian Trail, it is 0.8 miles to the trailhead for the Rocky Mountain Trail, where you parked your first car. By returning to your starting point along the gravel USFS 283 (Indian Grave Gap Road), you can turn this hike into a loop. The majority of visitors ascend 1100 feet by foot from Unicoi Gap to the summit of Rocky Mountain. There are fewer people on this Indian Grave Gap path.

Directions To Indian Grave Gap via Indian Grave Gap Trail:

3 Ways To Hike Via Indian Grave Gap Trail
Photo – Pinterest

Take Rich Mountain Road, which is just across Loop Road from the Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church, from Townsend, Tennessee, to the head of the Indian Grave Gap Trail. Cades Cove Mountain is 2.2 miles away from there.

To go to Indian Grave Gap, you must cross Tater Ridge and Branch as well. The Indian Grave Gap Trail then departs directly from the road. At the beginning of the trail, there is a small parking lot. Additionally, Rich Mountain Road is typically blocked from November to March.

Review of the Trail

There aren’t any graves at Indian Grave Gap, so don’t worry about that. Since there aren’t any graves, no one really knows why it was given the name “Indian Graves,” but it’s fun for kids and stimulates their imaginations. On this hike, there are just gorgeous vistas of the Smoky Mountains.

When the Cherokee outnumbered the European settlers, particularly in the Cades Cove region, many Indians did pass through these locations.

You’ll climb a little bit at the beginning of the Indian Grave Gap hike before it begins to descend to the gap. Over 1,000 feet of ascent will occur throughout the following mile.

The following sign on the path indicates the junction with the Rich Mountain Loop Trail. At that point, you are almost 1.1 miles into the trail and nearly at the summit of Tater Ridge. Some lovely views of Cades Cove can be seen if you turn to the right.

Flame azaleas, which bloom in June and July along this section of the Indian Grave Gap Route, should be visible as you continue to climb the trail. You are currently climbing Double Mountain, so named because it has two peaks.

You can discover the Rich Mountain Trail after 1.9 miles. To your left, in about 100 yards, is backcountry campsite number five. Ahead are 0.3 miles to Cerulean Knob. There is a junction where three trails come together at mile 3.7. Hikers will return to Cades Cove via Crooked Arm. Enjoy your hike!

3 Ways To Hike Via Indian Grave Gap Trail

#1 Schoolhouse Gap Trail

3 Ways To Hike Via Indian Grave Gap Trail
Shoolhouse gap trail | Photo – Pinterest

Check out this 4.1-mile out-and-back route that is close to Townsend, Tennessee. The average time to complete it is 1 hour and 43 minutes, and most people consider it to be a moderately difficult route. In the spring, the Schoolhouse Gap Trail is a fantastic area to see wildflowers.

We observed numerous Virginia bluebells throughout the trail’s lower stretches. Beaked violets, pink lady’s slippers, fairy wands, golden asters, star grass, red clover, Robin’s plantain, sundrops, Catesby’s trillium, and lyre-leaf sage were other plants we came across as we climbed higher.

The mountain laurel and rhododendron lining the trail were just beginning to blossom when we went trekking in mid-May. At this time, walkers may also see cardinal flower, Carolina vetch, and yellow ragwort along the trail. 

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 4.1 mi
  • Elevation gain: 521 ft
  • Route type,

Back and forth, kid-friendly Views, wildflowers, horseback riding, running, hiking, and no dogs


The National Park Service had posted signs at the trailhead the first time we hiked the Schoolhouse Gap Trail, cautioning hikers that bears had been on the trail and to take precautions. It was intriguing to see that this sign warned of bears and stated the route was closed when we reached the trail’s terminus at the Chestnut Top Trail intersection.

I’m writing this to remind you that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is bear country all the time, regardless of where or when you trek. Hikers should be aware of bear safety precautions and bear encounter procedures. The Smokies website is a fantastic place to start.

#2 Chestnut Top Trail

3 Ways To Hike Via Indian Grave Gap Trail
Chestnut Top Trail | Photo – Pinterest

Take a look at this 8.5-mile out-and-back track that is close to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The average time to complete it is 4 hours and 10 minutes, and most people consider it to be a moderately difficult route. Even though this is a well-traveled trail for hiking and backpacking, there are moments of the day when you can still be by yourself. You must leave your dog at home because dogs are not permitted on this trail.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 8.5 mi
  • Elevation gain: 1,666 ft
  • Route type: Out & back

Backpacking, Hiking, Forest, River, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, No dogs


The first few kilometers are quite hilly if you start at the Townsend Y. But it’s not that horrible. Even if the wildflowers are beginning to wither, you can still view them for a little while. Fire azaleas begin to bloom as you approach School House Gap, where the trail ends.

There weren’t many people around once you were past the trailhead. Some folks misplaced the bottoms of their shoes as we neared the trail’s beginning. a fantastic means of avoiding weekend crowds.

#3 Meigs Creek Trail

3 Ways To Hike Via Indian Grave Gap Trail
Meigs creek trail | Photo – Pinterest

Try out this 3.5-mile out-and-back trail that is close to Townsend, Tennessee. The average time to complete it is 1 hour and 47 minutes, and most people consider it to be a moderately difficult route. You’ll likely see others while exploring because this area is popular for hiking and running. You must leave your dog at home because dogs are not permitted on this trail.

  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 3.5 mi
  • Elevation gain: 744 ft
  • Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Running, Forest, River, Waterfall, Wildflowers, Rocky, No dogs


We proceeded directly to the fork in the road. The nicest feature was the waterfall. The trail is really quiet and serene, and there are many gorgeous leaves on it. I barely noticed a few individuals after the waterfall. Multiple water crossings were interesting. The time of one hour and forty-five minutes is a mystery to me. We traveled up and down in 3 hours each at a leisurely pace.

Hiking Tips For Indian Grave Gap via Indian Grave Gap Trail

Pack the 10 Essentials For Every Hike

1. Navigation + Communication Devices Fully Charged
2. Sun Protection
3. Proper Footwear + Extra Clothes
4. Water
5. Extra Food
6. Headlamp
7. First Aid + Repair Kit
8. Knife / Multi-tool
9. Fire Tools
10. Emergency Shelter
11. Trash Bag

Things to Do Near the Indian Grave Gap

Cowboy Tubing

indian grave gap
Photo – TripAdvisor


The modified tubes need to be discarded by Cowboy Tubing. While floating down the river, my husband’s inner tube burst, forcing him to carry it over moss-covered rocks to the finish landing. He noticed that the blue and white tube had undergone multiple repairs when he looked at it.

We explained what had happened and showed the young man at the office the deflated tube. He didn’t say anything or make a suggestion to give us our money back.

Caverns at Tuckaleechee

indian grave gap
Photo – Keith Hedger

Tuckaleechee Caverns are located in Townsend, Tennessee. The “Greatest Site Under the Smokies” is considered to be the best cave or cavern in the eastern United States. The Caverns, which are believed to be between 20 and 30 million years old, are a component of the world’s oldest mountain chain. They have a rich history and tales as well.

Because it is a sizable cave system and a popular tourist destination, AAA awarded Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend, Tennessee, five stars. There are several locations that are close enough for quick drives to Tuckaleechee Caverns, including Gatlinburg, Sevierville, Townsend, Cades Cove, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.

In the eastern United States, Tuckaleechee Caverns received the highest rating from AAA, receiving five stars. “GEM.” The “Big Room” is the largest publicly accessible cave or cavern in the eastern United States. Almost a football stadium might fit there.

With flow-stone formations exceeding hundreds of feet in length and width, several stalagmites are over 24 feet tall. Tuckaleechee Caverns is proud to feature “Silver Falls,” a 210-foot two-tiered waterfall that is the tallest underground waterfall in the eastern United States. March 1 to November 30: open.


Walking back and forth through the enormous tunnels provides fantastic aerobic exercise. The only negative aspect was the waterfall. We could only see a tiny hole through which a shower head’s worth of water could flow, despite the fact that it was supposedly the highest building in the eastern US.

Swinging Bridge Over Dark Island

indian grave gap
Photo – Pinterest

If you enjoy exploring odd locations and unique sights, travel to the Dark Island Swinging Bridge near Townsend, Tennessee. You must take some time to see this incredible bridge if you’re in the region. You can see the lovely Little River below if you have the guts to step out onto it.

The Dark Island Swinging Bridge, which is located directly behind the Little River Railroad and Lumber Museum, can be reached by anybody in Townsend. Because it is such a well-liked stop for travelers, there is a parking area. As long as they don’t move around too much, the bridge is sturdy enough to support four people at once.


We are really happy we came here because there was a post about it on Pinterest. I took some fantastic pictures in this simple-to-find little location with a neat and odd little bridge. You should reverse your direction and get back to where you started because the area on the opposite side of the bridge is private property.

Food and Diner Locations Near the Indian Grave Gap Trail

Trailhead Steak & Trout House Restaurant

Food and Diner Locations Near the Indian Grave Gap Trail
Photo – Pinterest

7839 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy Townsend, TN 37882


The dining experience was fantastic. The food was well cooked, and the service was excellent. The waiters were prompt and courteous. We will return the next time we are in the area and would highly recommend it to anyone in the area. 

Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro

Food and Diner Locations Near the Indian Grave Gap Trail
Photo – Pinterest

7140 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy Townsend, TN 37882


We discovered this location in Townsend, up the hill behind Apple Valley. Reservations are required, but we were fortunate to snag a table outside. It was a lovely day. The autumnal hues were stunning. Both the meal and the service were excellent. Aaron did a terrific job serving us.

Each of us had a salad and a beverage. Butter and cheese toast were offered without charge. I ordered the trout and grits in a cream sauce with shrimp and crawfish. a delicious dish The wife enjoyed the chicken and root vegetables a lot. It’s elegant and a bit pricey, but well worth it!

Townsend Abbey

Food and Diner Locations Near the Indian Grave Gap Trail
Photo – TripAdvisor

7765 River Rd, Townsend, TN 37882


There were outdoor dining areas along the river and plenty of parking spaces. Excellent pub fare with a decent beer variety We ordered the meat and cheese charcuterie as well as the flatbread pizza with pig belly. The pizza had a sweet barbecue sauce, and the apples gave it a unique texture. Very serene. We’ll be back.

Credit: TripAdvisor, Our Big Escape | All the information & photo credit goes to respective authorities. DM for removal please.

Related: A Complete Guide to Hiking The Pacific Crest Trail

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