Roundtop TrailModerate

Wear Cove Gap Rd. / Wears Valley

Roundtop Trail

Distance (One Way)

7.5 miles

Elevation Gain

850 feet


Wear Cove Gap Rd.


Wears Valley

Water Xing


Trail Description Written by Caroline Sullivan

Roundtop Trail is one of the least used trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Despite its popular location stretching between the Townsend Wye and Metcalf Bottoms, it is rarely hiked because of the lack of parking at the trailhead and lack of bridge over the Little River.

The trailhead is located on Wear Cove Gap Road just north of Metcalf Bottoms. There is no parking here, but there is room for about 2 cars right next to the sign for Little Greenbrier Trail just up the hill. The sign indicates that there is no bridge at the Townsend Wye. That end of the trail requires crossing the Little River to get back to the road and parking area. There are several places you can attempt to cross, but all will be in at least waist-deep water. It is not recommended to attempt this after periods of heavy rain. During a dry spell in the heat of the summer, however, the cross is a refreshing end to a shuttle hike. Bring your water shoes and be prepared to carry your backpack.

In the first half mile from Wear Cove Gap Road you will pass a cabin rental called Trailside on your right. Because this trail follows the border of the national park in many places, you'll notice many buildings and signs of communities to the north.

Despite the wooded seclusion of Roundtop Trail, there are many points where you can spot prominent peaks and coves through the trees. These include the titular Roundtop, Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top, Chinquapin Ridge, Cove Mountain, and several others.

This is a good trail to find wildflowers of all kinds during the spring and through the summer.

The best way to hike this trail is with two cars; park one at the Townsend Wye and the other either near the trailhead on Wear Cove Gap Road or at Metcalf Bottoms, and you can shuttle back to your vehicle after your hike. Regarding the final water crossing: the best spot to cross is likely directly toward the parking area at the Wye. Near the end of Roundtop Trail, the Little River curves in a U-shape around you. The technical end of the trail is toward the road on your left, but it may be more difficult to cross here. You will find a few access points to your right where people are likely swimming at the Townsend Wye near your parked vehicle. Take your time and scope out the safest location to cross.

Another great way to hike Roundtop Trail via a two-car shuttle is by adding on a few other trails. With one car parked at Metcalf Bottoms, hike Metcalf Bottoms Trail (0.7 m) to the Little Greenbrier School, Little Brier Gap (1.4 m) past the Walker Sisters Cabin, and turn left at the intersection with Little Greenbrier Trail for 1.9 more miles. At the end of Little Greenbrier you'll reach Wear Cove Gap Road. Take a left and follow the road down the hill for about 0.2 of a mile to reach Roundtop Trail. Look for the speed limit sign across the street; you'll see the trailhead marker right next to it.

#wears valley

Roundtop Trail Elevation Profile

Roundtop Trail Elevation Profile Tom Dunigan's Elevation Profiles

Trail Difficulty Scales Explained

Elevation Grade


Fairly Flat

Paul Petzoldt Scale






Shenandoah Scale


Moderately Strenuous




Photo Gallery (10)

The above list of hiking trails in the Smokies is incomplete and constantly being updated. If you have information or photos you would like to contribute, please contact [email protected].

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