Turkey Pen Ridge Hiking Trail in The Smoky Mountains

Turkeypen Ridge trail in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great hike, with very little incline. If you are near Townsend, this will make an excellent addition to your Smokies vacation.

Shelf mushroom on a tree along Turkeypen Ridge Hiking Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Of course, each family has its own unique needs. You know your family best, and are ultimately responsible for discerning the safety and appropriateness these hikes. Please read our full disclaimer here.

Turkeypen Ridge Hiking Trail in The Smoky Mountains

round-trip length: just over 7 miles

difficulty: moderate

Let me start by saying that my family hiked this trail accidentally. We wound up reading the sign wrong and we thought that we were on the uber-family-friendly Schoolhouse Gap Trail. We weren’t.

We had our son in a baby carrier, so it wasn’t that bad for us. Although this trail is pretty mild as far as incline goes, due to the extremely narrow path, at times, and the extremely steep drop off to one side, I absolutely do not recommend this trail for children. It is also 7.2 miles in length round trip, which is more than a bit much for little legs.

Turkey Pen Ridge Trailhead sign

The vast majority of the trail was either flat or on a gentle incline. A few times the incline did steepen a bit, but it was very manageable. We definitely didn’t need to take too many breaks on this trail, which was great!

Related Read: 20 Best Family Friendly Hikes In The Smoky Mountains

dirt trail winding through a lush green forest

Flora and Fauna

I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable hikes we have taken as far as nature goes. There were so many interesting types of moss and mushrooms on this path, we just couldn’t possibly take enough pictures. Of course, we had our bear spray ready in case we encountered any ferocious creatures!

orange shelf mushroom on a brown mossy tree

The wildflowers were also lingering about, although we missed their peak season. You can catch a wide variety of flowers here, during the spring.

clusters of white and pink mountain laurel flowers with waxy green leaves

We were totally memorized by all the creepy crawlies that we encountered in our travels. Including this awesome red salamander that was mid-meal. Salamanders are so prevalent in the park that there is even an awesome children’s book written about it.

Related Read: Smoky Mountain Heritage Center

a red salamander eating a slug along the dirt trail at Turkey Pen Ridge

We also saw about 8 trillion of these apheloria virginiensis millipedes in both pink and yellow. If you see these guys in your travels, do not pick them up. Their bodies secrete cyanide and those beautiful bright colors are a warning.

a pink centipede crawling over grennery on a tree.

For adults and responsible teens, this really is a great trail with moderate difficulty and a wealth of natural beauty. We truly enjoyed it. Happy hiking!

Be sure to check out our other great adventures in the Smoky Mountains. 

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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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