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Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountains, North Carolina

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Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop

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  • Starting the climb through the trees.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Some flowers poking out along the way.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Gregory Bald comes with proof of summit.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Wide open views from the grassy bald peak.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Nantahalla to the south.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Sunrise views from Gregory Bald are just as lovely.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • View to the south from Gregory Bald.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • The view north to Cades Cove.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Sunrise from Gregory Bald.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • The forested trail.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Shuckstack Fire Tower.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Great views over Fontana Lake.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Great Smoky Mountains.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Signs of spring in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Following the stream back to the trailhead.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • Flowers dotting the trail.- Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
  • - Gregory Bald + Shuckstack Fire Tower via Twentymile Loop
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Good campsites. Panoramic views. Well maintained. Varied loop.
Cons: 
Limited parking.
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Region:
Smoky Mountains, NC
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
3,619.00 ft (1,103.07 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
18.50 mi (29.77 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,457.00 ft (444.09 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

With a summit view topping many lists as the best vista in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gregory Bald is also rich in history. The Cherokee called the mountain "Tsistu'yi," or "Rabbit Place." They believed that a mischievous chief of all rabbits lived on the grassy bald, known simply as the Great Rabbit. The mountain was originally surveyed by Arnold Guyot in 1856, who named it “Great Bald’s Central Peak” in his trip through the Smokies. The peak was eventually renamed by Cades Cove settlers after Russell Gregory, a Cades Cove settler who helped settle the mountain, who was killed by Confederate soldiers in 1864.

The hike begins at the Twentymile Ranger station just south of the park, and heads north into the forest. The climb is very steady for about 3 miles until the grade really starts the steepen. Make sure you head up to the top for sunrise and sunset; it’s a bit of an extra climb, but you won’t regret it. On the second day there is an option to return to your car more quickly, but the Shuckstack Fire Tower stands resolute as a worthwhile detour for the views over the lake and Fontana Dam.

If you need a refill, you’ll find water halfway between where you turn onto the Appalachian Trail and the spur trail to the fire tower. It’s only a few hundred feet off trail at a campsite, and it is signed well. You will be stuck in the trees for the remainder of the hike once you leave the ridge, but don’t distress, as wildflowers and some interesting rapids in the river will entertain you during your final miles.

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(5 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(27 within a 30 mile radius)

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