West Prong TrailModerate

Tremont / Townsend, TN

West Prong Trail

Distance (One Way)

2.7 miles

Elevation Gain

550 feet




Townsend, TN

Water Xing


Trail Description Written by Caroline Sullivan

West Prong Trail is an easy to moderate 2.7 mile out and back trail starting near the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and ending at an intersection with Bote Mountain Trail.

To reach the trailhead, head toward Cades Cove from the Townsend Wye and almost immediately take a left at the sign indicating Tremont Road. It's about two miles to reach the institute from here. Just before the parking lot for the book store, you'll see a sign on the right indicating parking for West Prong Trail. Turn right up the short road to reach a gravel parking lot. The trailhead is accessible from here, just to the right of the pump house.

The trail starts to climb the flanks of Fodderstack Mountain. In the 2.7 miles one way you will ascend for just over a mile, go back down to reach backcountry campsite #18 (with a large group camp and at least four smaller camps) around the 2 mile marker, and then ascend one final time for the last 0.7 of a mile before reaching the junction with Bote Mountain Trail.

There is a maintained cemetery accessible from a spur trail almost immediately to the right after the West Prong Trail trailhead. Another spur trail to the same cemetery shows up around the 0.3 mile marker at a fork in the trail; continue to the left for West Prong. There's an easy rock hop over a side creek just before the backcountry campsite #18. The campsite sprawls over a large area. To continue on West Prong Trail, head over the sturdy foot bridge and slightly to the right under a sweet gum tree (you'll see sweet gum balls all over the ground). The trail narrows back uphill and curves to the left.

Overall West Prong Trail is a nice hike with enough challenge to get your blood pumping, but not one of the most difficult trails in this area. It's pleasant at most times of year and offers plenty of solitude, history, eastern hemlock and mountain laurel.

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West Prong Trail Elevation Profile

West Prong Trail Elevation Profile

Trail Difficulty Scales Explained

Elevation Grade


Fairly Flat

Paul Petzoldt Scale






Shenandoah Scale






Photo Gallery (8)

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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