Schoolhouse Gap Trail - Hiking and Horseback Riding

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With its wide berth and modest incline, Schoolhouse Gap Trail is ideal for families and hikers of all ages. Located at the intersection of Laurel Creek and Spence Branch, it’s also a fun spot for water play and wading.

Written by

Jennie Miller


4.0 miles

The trail is about 4 miles round trip if you turn around at the intersection of Chestnut Top Trail and Scott Mountain Trail. You can add more mileage by going farther on the Scott Mountain Trail.

Destination Distance From Downtown

94.1 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

The trail is wide and flat. It’s an easy hike with a gradual incline on the way out.

Time To Complete

2 hours


All Seasons

The trail is closed when access to Laurel Creek Road is closed. The trail may be muddy or flooded after a heavy rain.

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


Land Website

Schoolhouse Gap Trail



Schoolhouse Gap Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an easy-to-follow gravel trail that is known for it’s beautiful wildflowers in the spring and summer. With its wide berth and gradual incline, Schoolhouse Gap Trail is ideal for families and hikers of all ages. Because of the water along the trail, it’s also a fun spot for water play and wading.

What Makes It Great

Thick with mountain laurel, Schoolhouse Gap is the perfect starter trail for those who prefer a comfy stroll over a strenuous hike. At the 1.1 mile mark, the trail splits left for Turkeypen Ridge or continues right for the remaining mile of Schoolhouse Gap. Because Spence Branch parallels the trail, you’ll have a relaxing soundtrack of trickling water the whole time.

People of all ages and stages will enjoy this trail, particularly in the spring and summer when the mountain laurel is in bloom and creek levels are higher. Schoolhouse Gap Trail is perfect for beginners but it’s also enjoyable for anyone who’s looking for a peaceful walk in the shade. With plentiful parking, including space for those with horse trailers, there is room for everyone. The trail isn’t fraught with limbs and boulders, so no special hiking attire is required. It is truly a trail for the casual observer or the park visitor who isn’t looking to break a sweat.

Another great thing about this trail is that you can easily add on more mileage if you want to. There are several side trails, and Schoolhouse Gap ends when it connects to Scott Mountain Trail and Chestnut Top.

Who is Going to Love It

Families with small children will particularly appreciate the wide paths, as well as horseback riders and creek waders. There are also endless subjects for nature photographers who want to capture flora without having to scale a mountainside. The accessibility couldn’t be easier.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Townsend, Tennessee, follow U.S. 321/Lamar Alexander Parkway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance. Take Townsend Entrance Road to the Townsend Wye and turn right on Laurel Creek Road. The parking lot for Schoolhouse Gap Trail is 3.6 miles ahead on the right.

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Schoolhouse Gap Trail

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