Schoolhouse Gap Trail hike provides views of wildflowers, mushrooms and Park’s boundary

August 28, 2023

FOTS hiking group at Schoolhouse Gap Trail

by Beth Ransom
Hike Leader

Fifteen hearty hikers gathered at the Schoolhouse Gap Trail parking area Tuesday morning, Aug. 8, 2023.  The day began with a layer of mist following horrific storms the day before. 

We saw evidence of the storm during the drive through the Park and along the trail.

Not long after heading up the trail, the sun broke through and made for a lovely morning walk. 

Our hope was to see summer wildflowers along the trail, and we did. We enjoyed, including some lingering yellow-fringed orchids blooming. 

The real beauties were the numerous ferns growing along the trail laden with water droplets from the previous day’s storm.

The trail is quite wide with a gentle climb of about 500 feet for the first two miles.  The last two tenths of the trail lead us to the Park boundary and a whimsical array of private landscaping. That’s where we took our group photo, which is at the top of this blog post.

This is a gentle reminder that the Park offers a robust human history and still draws people to the beauty of the land.

Beth Ransom is an accomplished Southern Appalachian and global hiker. She completed the Smokies 900 Mile Challenge, the South Beyond 6,000 Challenge, the Pisgah 400 Challenge, and several Caminos. She shares her hiking experience with others as a volunteer leader for Friends of the Smokies.

Register For Classic Hikes

Trails Forever logo

The Classic Hikes are the second Tuesday of the month, March through December, with hikes of different levels of difficulty. Each hike features special elements of the Smokies, from wildflowers to historic buildings to waterfalls to mountain views. A member of the Classic Hike Advisory Team leads the hike.

The next Classic Hike is the September 12 hike to Mt. Cammerer Via Low Gap.

You must register prior to the hike.

Step 1: Review the Classic Hike of the Smokies Waiver here.
Step 2Register for your hike(s) and submit payment.

After completing registration, you will receive an email the Friday before the hike with directions, and more information. All hikes begin at 9 a.m. The cost is $20 for members and $35 for non-members.

Many of this year’s Classic Hikes are part of the 100 Favorite Trails Challenge. Charlies Bunion = #27, Chimney Tops = #22, Deep Creek Waterfalls Loop = #18, Hemphill Bald from Polls Gap = #37, and Smokemont Loop = #28.

Trails Forever Improves GSMNP Trails

Proceeds from the Classic Hike series benefit Trails Forever. The Trails Forever Crew has restored Alum Cave TrailRainbow Falls TrailTrillium Gap TrailAbrams Falls TrailChimney Tops Trail and Forney Ridge TrailRamsey Cascades Trail is the crew’s current project.

GSMNP Parking Tags

Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s new ‘Park it Forward’ program requires visitors to buy and display a valid parking tag for any vehicle parking for more than 15 minutes beginning March 1, 2023. 

Participants of ‘Classic Hikes of the Smokies’ are responsible for obtaining a parking tag prior to attending a hike. Annual passes are available through Great Smoky Mountains Association at smokiesinformation.org, daily and weekly passes are available at recreation.gov. You can learn more about Park it Forward HERE

For the most popular trails in the park, hikers need to plan ahead to secure parking by arriving early in the morning or utilize one of the shuttle opportunities offered by authorized providers. Learn more here.

Special Thanks To Our 2023 ‘Classic Hikes Of The Smokies’ Sponsors: