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One of the amazing things about the Smoky Mountains is the history you’ll find there. So many structures and areas are preserved so visitors can see what life was like when pioneers first came to this area. A popular activity in the Smokies is hiking, so why not combine the two? Check out these 6 hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains that uncover history:
1. Noah “Bud” Ogle Selfguiding Trail
An easy hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains that provides you with a ton of history is the Noah “Bud” Ogle selfguiding trail. The roundtrip length is 0.7 of a mile. You just walk a short ways through the woods to the homestead. The cabin was built by Noah “Bud” Ogle, a descendent of the original Ogles who moved to White Oak Flats area, which is known as Gatlinburg now. This structure is known as a saddlebag house, meaning two houses are connected by a chimney. If you walk a little farther, you will come up on the Ogle “tub” mill, which was used to grind corn into meal using water from the creek to power it. Past the mill, you’ll find the Ogle barn. All of the livestock was kept in this barn, including horses, cows, pigs, and chickens.
2. Jake Creeks Trail
Jake Creeks Trail is an easy hike at just 2 miles roundtrip. When you first start your hike, you’ll see old cottages and remains of homesteads. Many of these buildings were used as getaways for people living in Knoxville in the 1920s. You’ll walk about a third of a mile, and you need to look carefully on the right side of the trail since the path to the Avent Cabin isn’t clearly marked. The footpath leading to the cabin is easy to follow. This cabin was built in 1845 and sold to its last owner, Frank Avent, in 1918. Frank and his wife, Mayna Treanor Avent, used this cabin as an art studio until 1940. The Avent family had a lifetime lease on the cabin until 1992, and then in 1994, the cabin was put on the National Register of Historic Places. The cabin is well preserved, and some things you will find inside include bed frames, a stone fireplace, and an attached kitchen with a sink and iron cooking stove.
3. Little Brier Gap Trail
Little Brier Gap Trail is another easy trail with a roundtrip length of 2.6 miles. You’ll come across the Walker Sisters Home. John Walker married Margaret King in 1866, getting a home and land from her family afterwards. He added onto an existing cabin in the 1870s and even helped build the Little Greenbrier schoolhouse in 1882, which you can see along the trail. Walker and his wife had 11 children, 7 girls and 4 boys. All of their children made it to maturity, which was rare for this time due to lack of medical care. Only one of the Walker sisters married, leaving the other 6 living at home. They inherited the farm after their father died. They continued to work the land and live in this area until 1940 when they sold their land because of the formation of the national park.
4. Porters Creek Trail
One of the more moderate hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains full of history is Porters Creek Trail. It is 4 miles roundtrip, and the first mile is covered in gravel. At this point, there is a split, and if you go right, you’ll find the John Messer farm site. The cantilever barn was built around 1875. There’s also a cabin built in 1930 by the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club where they could stay overnight until 1981.
5. Rich Mountain Loop
If you’re planning on visiting Cades Cove, you should hike Rich Mountain Loop while you’re in the area. This trail is also considered moderate with a roundtrip length of 8.3 miles. The first site you’ll see is the John Oliver cabin, a popular stop along the Cades Cove Loop. You can walk in this structure, and it is one of the oldest in the park since it was built in the 1820s. As you hike the trail, you’ll find all kinds of wildflowers in the spring. This hike is perfect if you want to see the beauty of the mountains. Once you make your way to Cerulean Knob, you’ll see the remains of an old firetower.
Hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains can be full of history. If you’re a history buff, you’ll definitely have fun on any of these trails! For even more great trails, check out these can’t miss Smoky Mountain hiking trails.