Tag Archives: Lead Cove Trail

Lead Cove Trail

Date:    April 23, 2016

Miles:  1.8 miles           Elevation Gain:  1,162↑         Elev./Mi:   645     Grade:     12%          

Difficulty:  Class 4      Hiking Time: 0:57       Pace:  3.1  mph         Avg. Temp.:   63        

Section:  Cades Cove    

Lead Cove Map Lead Cove Elevation

The trailhead for Lead Cove Trail is on Laurel Creek Road at 5.5 miles west of the Townsend “Y”.  The trailhead is shared among Finley Cane Trail and Turkey Pen Ridge Trail, giving 900 Milers several options for loop hikes.  The trail was originally named Sandy Gap Trail as it terminates at the Bote Mountain Trail at Sandy Gap but it was refurbished and renamed in 1970.  The trail is the remains of old wagon trails that permeated the farmlands that once made up this area of the park.  There is plenty of water but no campsites along this path.

The trail climbs steadily along it’s length.  At 0.4 miles it crosses Sugar Grove Prong on an easy rock hopper.  Just past Sugar Grove Creek, there are clearings where once stood the Gibson-Tipton Cabin.  The next creek crossing is at 1.4 miles over Laurel Cove Creek.  The steady climb continues up the flank of Bote Mountain until you reach Sandy Gap at 1.8 miles and the terminus at Bote Mountain Trail.

Lead Cove Data Book copy

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Lead Cove – Finley Cane Loop Hike

Date: April 23, 2016

Miles: 7.5 miles           Elevation Gain:   1,555   ↑         Elev./Mi:   207         Grade:  4%          

Difficulty:  Class 3        Hiking Time: 2:48       Pace:  2.7  mph            Avg. Temp.:  72        

Section:  Cades Cove     

Lead Cove - Finley Cane LoopThis is a good, moderately difficult loop that is easy to get to.  The trailhead is on Laurel Creek Road, 5.5 miles from the Townsend “Y”. This trailhead is where several trails meet in the section including both Lead Cove and Finely Cane as well as Turkey Pen Ridge.  This intersection offers a number of loop possibilities depending on the desired length of the hike.  There is plenty of water along the route but there are no campsites.  The closest site is CS#18 at 0.6 miles past the intersection.



IMG_2661The route is:

  1. Lead Cove Trail to Bote Mountain Trail                      1.8 miles
  2. Bote Mountain Trail to West Prong Trail                    2.8 miles
  3. Bote Mountain Trail (return) to Finley Cane Trail     0.3 miles
  4. Finely Cane Trail to Trailhead                                      2.6 miles

The morning was cool and cloudy, good for cranking some mileage.  Lead Cove Trail is a steady 1,161 ft climb at 12% through mixed hardwoods.  There are a couple stream crossings at 0.4 miles over Sugar Cove Prong and again at 1.4 miles at Laurel Cove Creek.  Lead Cove terminates at 1.8 miles into Bote Mountain Trail.  Note to 900 milers:  You may consider hiking the 1.2 miles of Bote Mountain Trail up to the Intersection with Anthony Creek and returning.  The upper section of Bote Mountain is commonly hiked in a loop with Anthony  Creek trail.  Neglecting this segment can create an orphan.  However, ignoring this advice, we hiked on down Bote Mountain to West Prong Trail.  This section loses most of the elevation gained on Lead Cove in a gentle descent over its 2.8 miles.  The segment between Finley Cane Trail and West Prong Trail is a mere 0.3 miles and we elected to grab it in less than 10 minutes of walking.  Finley Cane Trail undulates a bit losing more elevation than is gained for a net 259 ft. over 2.6 miles.  There are creek crossings at 1.0 miles over Finely Cove Creek, 2.0 miles at Hickory Tree Branch and shortly beyond at Laurel Cove Creek.

Overall, this loop hike is quite enjoyable.  The section features many opportunities to view wildflowers over the season and bear sightings are common.

HikerHead 2  Strider out…