Sandy Gap via Lead Cove Trail

1 review #27 hike out of 614 in
1.7 mi
40 min
1,128 ft
Elev Gain


This is a easy one way trail to Sandy Gap in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This is a easy to moderate trail from the the Lead Cove Trailhead located on Laurel Creek Road to Bote Mountain Trail at Sandy Gap in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The trail is well maintained and a popular trail that can be a part of a loop hike via Bote Mountain Trail and Finley Can Trail. The loop is popular because you end basically where you started making it a convenient for parking.

The trail consistently ascends for approximately 1100 feet, peaking near 2950 feet at Sandy Gap. As you walk along the trail Sugar Cove Prong will run parallel for about the first half of the hike towards Sugar Gap. You will need to cross the prong to continue up the trail and depending on the time of year and water level this can be more than a simple rock hop. The prong is very shallow but widens as it crosses the trail making finding rocks close together a challenge. This is not usually an issue during the warm months.

At 0.47 miles from the trailhead, you will see a stack of stones on the left side of the trail. If you look to the left of the stack of stones you will see the remains of a stone wall or foundation.

At 1.6 miles you find a break in the trees allowing a good view of the surrounding mountains.

As you make your way up the trail you will pass through Rhododendron thickets and several stands of Tulip Poplars. You can recognize the Tulip Poplars because they will straight with few to no limbs below the canopy.

Remember to check the weather for this area and prepare accordingly, dress correctly and carry water and food.

Please remember to practice “Leave No Trace” – Take out what you take in.

Getting Started

The Lead Cove trailhead is located on Laurel Creek Road and is on the left if you are heading towards Cades Cove. Lead Cove Trail and Finley Cane Trail share the parking areas. This is a popular trail and parking can be an issue. Parking is located on both sides of the road but may fill up early during peak seasons. There are no facilities at this parking area.

Taking Children

This can be a fun hike for families. As with all the trails in the Smoky Mountains there are always sections that parents should be aware of the dangers

Sights to See

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