Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
513.00 ft (156.36 m)
Trail type
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Schoolhouse Gap Trail is located on the Townsend, Tennessee, side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail, located between the Townsend Y and Cades Cove, is an excellent trail to explore year round. However, it is mostly visited in the spring when the area comes to life with thousands of wildflowers.

Just past the junction with Turkey Pen Ridge a mile into the trail, the Schoolhouse Gap Trail is an unmarked side trail on the left that leads to a honey hole of Smoky Mountain wildflowers. The area is known as White Oak Sinks and was actually once occupied by multiple families. White Oak Sinks is now only open for a limited amount of time each spring due to the park's efforts to help protect local bats. The area includes a waterfall and a cave, both of which are closed off to the public.

However, don't let this stop you from visiting in the spring when the ground becomes a carpet of wildflowers. You'll find everything from trilliums and jack-in-the-pulpits to bluebells and shooting stars. If you'll be visiting during a time when the White Oak Sinks is closed, you still have plenty of options to explore Schoolhouse Gap and area trails. You can connect to Turkey Pen Ridge and head west to Cades Cove, hike an easy out-and-back filled with exploring, or connect to Chesnut Top Trail.

Schoolhouse Gap Trail is a perfect trail to combine with a visit to Cades Cove, a day of water play at the Townsend Y, a local swimming hole, or a trip into the Tremont section of the park. Keep an eye out for wildlife as you visit the area. You may spot any of the following: owls, salamanders, wild hogs, black bears, or deer. Be bear aware at all times; you are in bear country!

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Wildflowers. Solitude.



Trailhead Elevation

1,600.00 ft (487.68 m)



Typically multi-day


Suitable for



Nearby Adventures

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park


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