Discover Schoolhouse Gap Hiking Trail in the Smoky Mountains

Schoolhouse Gap trail in Townsend, TN is wide and gently sloping. There are no steep drops on either side, which makes it one of the most perfect hikes for families in the Smoky Mountains.

Schoolhouse Gap Hiking Trail in the Smoky Mountains

For my family, hiking this trail turned out to be more of an adventure than we were hoping. We parked in the wrong place and, although we thought we were headed down the correct path, (because the sign clearly said Schoolhouse Gap Trail) we were actually on Turkeypen Ridge trail. Turkeypen Ridge, while not the most strenuous, is certainly not the most kid-friendly. It is also substantially longer at 3.6 miles one way compared to Schoolhouse Gap’s 2.2.

Because I care about your wellbeing, I would like you to take a close look at this trail sign. If this is not the exact sign that you are seeing when you enter the trail, you are NOT at Schoolhouse Gap. Lesson learned haha!

Related Read: 20 Best Family Hikes In The Smokies

Brown Schoolhouse Gap Trail Sign

If you are in the correct place, you will be parked in an actual parking lot, not a pull-off. As you enter the trail it will be gloriously wide and flat. Not long after you start walking, you will notice that the trail runs along a peaceful stream, which you will follow the majority of the way.

After we completed our hike down Turkeypen Ridge, we eventually made it to where the two trails intersect. This is the exact moment when we first realized that we weren’t previously on our desired path. It only took us 3.6 miles to figure that out.  But, such is life! Now that we were on the correct trail, we finally understood what all the fuss was about. This trail is absolutely amazing for kids!

Related Read: Discover Cades Cove

The trail is wide enough to walk 3 or 4 people across if no one is coming down in the other direction. Even better, there is no drop-off on either side, which is always a huge concern if you are hiking with littles. While there may be no grand finale, such as a waterfall for rock formation, Schoolhouse Gap trail does allow you to peacefully reconnect with nature while ascending the gently sloping and unassuming path. Just to be clear, there is no schoolhouse.

Schoolhouse Gap trail does have one great bonus if you are in town for spring. In April and early May, this trail is filled with gorgeous wildflowers.

Although we missed the peak, we were able to catch a few beauties. In season you will be able to view over 10 gorgeous varieties including Smoky Mountain favorites, such as trillium, golden aster, rhododendron, and mountain laurel.

In the summer, you can view additional varieties such as ironweed, and southern harebell.

White and pink Mountain Laurel flowers on Schoolhouse Gap Trail

Despite our misstep at the beginning of the day, we had an amazing time making lasting family memories. Isn’t that what it’s all about folks? Wishing the same joy for you and yours.

Happy Hiking!

Please check out some more of our awesome local adventures!

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Written By
Erica Cardinal
Erica is a long-time resident of East TN and the founder of East TN Family Fun. She's also a sucker for a good adventure. Together with her hubs and kiddos, she spends her time exploring, homeschooling, and making memories.

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