Total Miles Hiked: 15.0
15 December 2016
Maddron Bald trail starts along the northern border of the GSMNP, just south of US Route 321 in between Gatlinburg and Cosby. The trailhead is a little sketchy and apparently break-ins and vandalism of cars is not uncommon here. I took a chance, since I was just going to be here for the day, and went ahead and parked at the trailhead - no problems.
|At the trailhead.|
|Willis Baxter cabin, ca. 1889|
|Old Settler trail|
|Gabes Mountain trail|
|Footlog bridge over Indian Camp Creek|
|Northern junction of Maddron Bald & Albright Grove Loop trails|
|Southern junction of Maddron Bald & Albright Grove Loop trails|
|Downed tree blocking the trail.|
|Backcountry Campsite #29|
|Backcountry Campsite #29. Looking up from the bottom toward the trail.|
|Trees covered in rime ice at high elevation|
The trail then reaches the summit ridge of Maddron Bald and traverses that ridge on its way over to the junction with the Snake Den Ridge trail. Maddron Bald is a heath bald, much like Brushy Mountain. The top of the ridge has few tall trees, but is covered with Rhododendron, Mountain Laurel and Sand Myrtle, and the trail is deeply rutted into the earth. This section of the trail is reasonably level, and then even drops off just a bit as it comes off of Maddron Bald and heads over to the end of the trail. There are several spots with lovely views along the top of Maddron Bald. The trail ends at its junction with Snake Den Ridge trail, just 0.7 miles below the Appalachian Trail. I stopped here, glad to be done with the climbing for the day and ate some lunch. But I didn't stay long - it was too cold! My little thermometer said 15 degrees. I stayed just about 15 minutes to eat, drink and rest, and then turned and headed back down.
|Maddron Bald - Snake Den Ridge trail junction|
|Brrr! 15 degrees at the top|
|The distinctive bark of a huge Silver Bell tree|
Til next time, happy hiking!