School House Gap – 2.2 miles from Laurel Creek Road to Scott Mt. Trail.
Highlights: White Oak Sinks, Wildflowers.
Trailhead: From the Townsend “Y” proceed toward Cades Cove on the Laurel Creek Road for 3.9 miles. The trailhead is a large, paved parking area on the right.
The trail looks like a road. From the trailhead you will gradually climb up Spence Branch, a small, tranquil mountain stream, to Dosey Gap at mile 1.1. Here the trail intersects Turkeypen Ridge Trail, which leads off to the west towards Cades Cove. Spectacular patches of cardinal flower can be found in late summer and early fall.
After passing Dorsey Gap, a narrow manway leads off to the west, dropping into an area known as White Oak Sinks. This small sunken valley was once home to as many as 10 families. It is now home to many non-native wild hogs, several rare plants, and an assortment of caves.
The trail continues uphill for 1.1 miles to Schoolhouse Gap and the park boundary. Along the way you will pass through fields of Japanese witch grass and exotic plant species.
The Chestnut Top Trail meets this trail just a quarter mile before Schoolhouse Gap. At the top of the Gap you reach the park boundary. The Scott Mountain Trail arrives from the west. Chestnut Top Trials leads east 4.3 miles to the Townsend “Y” while Scott Mountain meanders 3.6 miles west into Cades Cove area.