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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomes more than 10 million visitors each year, making it the most visited national park in the country. Everyone who visits falls in love with the popular areas in the park, like Cades Cove and Laurel Falls, but did you know that the Smokies are home to some lesser-known areas that are definitely worth a visit? To help you discover some of the best kept secrets in the Smoky Mountains, we’ve made a list of 5 hidden gems in the Smoky Mountain National Park that you should uncover.
1. The Troll Bridge at Elkmont
You may have heard the story of the “Elkmont Ghost Town,” an abandoned mountain town in the national park. But have you heard about the Troll Bridge that you can find when you visit? The bridge crosses a small creek that’s a little off the trail. To get to the Troll Bridge, take one of the established side trails to the right about 100 feet into the Little River Trail. You’ll follow the trail through the forest and will eventually reach the bridge. If you’re worried about getting off trail, just remember to follow parallel to the stone walls!
2. White Oak Sinks and Blowhole Cave
White Oak Sinks and Blowhole Cave are located off of the Schoolhouse Gap Trail. You can reach the trailhead for Schoolhouse Gap Trail 3.7 miles west from the Townsend Y junction on the right, and the trail to White Oak Sinks is about 1.1 miles from the parking lot. White Oak Sinks is home to everything from old homesteads to stone walls and is known for its beautiful display of wildflowers in the spring and summer. You’ll see 4 caves in the White Oak Sinks area, but the Blowhole Cave is one of the most impressive. You’ll feel a cold blast of air when you stand next to it, which is where it got its name. Although you can’t enter the cave, it’s still worth the hike to see it!
3. Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower
You may have heard about the Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower before, but if you’ve never been to it you should make the trip! The shortest way to the fire tower is via Cosby Campground, but it’s still about 11.1 miles roundtrip. If you’re up for a challenge, this is definitely a hike you should try when you visit. When you make it to the top of the tower, you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views there is of the Smoky Mountain National Park. Be sure to bring a camera with you to capture the sights!
4. The House of the Fairies
The House of the Fairies is one of the best hidden gems in the Smoky Mountain National Park. Located in the Twin Creeks area of the park, this springhouse is part of a larger estate that was built from 1928 to 1944. A man named Louis E Voorheis developed this mountain retreat using natural materials to create a rustic appearance. The House of the Fairies is one of the structures in the estate that is still standing today.
5. Cataract Falls
Cataract Falls is one of the lesser known waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains, but that shouldn’t take away from its beauty! It’s known as one of the best kept secrets in the Smoky Mountains, and is about 25 feet tall. The trail is located about a half mile behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center and is easy enough for anyone to do! Since it’s considered a hidden gem, you won’t have to worry about it being too busy or high amounts of traffic.
More About the Smoky Mountain National Park
Now you know all about the hidden gems you should uncover when you visit the Smoky Mountains! Learn more about the Smoky Mountain National Park, then start planning your trip to see all these sights and more.