The Great Smoky Mountains are rich in history and full of hidden gems.
Through the sands of time, these lost landmarks become something of whimsical fantasies.
An old spring house becomes a fairy house. A trail connection becomes a hidden, abandoned tunnel.
And an ordinary stone bridge becomes a moss-covered troll bridge.
This troll bridge is located in the Elkmont region of the Great Smoky Mountains, which is arguably one of the most history-rich regions of the national park.
The Elkmont region in the Great Smoky Mountains
According to the National Park Service (NPS), the first settlers in Elkmont arrived in the mid-1800s. They were homesteaders, hunters and loggers.
By the early 1900s, Elkmont became the second largest town in the county, largely because of its logging and mining operations. The town had a post office, a school, a hotel, a general goods store, a church and residences.
The area continued to grow, and eventually, a resort in Elkmont became the go-to spot for East Tennessee’s wealthy socialites.
When the national park came along, Elkmont’s cottage owners were given lifetime leases that were converted to 20-year leases in 1952. The leases were renewed once in 1972, but the renewal was denied in 1992.
The buildings were scheduled to be torn down, but some were preserved.
Today, remains of the buildings still can be seen along the Little River trail and the Jakes Creek trail. It’s an area that is also known as Elkmont ghost town.
Just off the Little River trail, you will find another original piece of the Elkmont community: The “troll bridge”.
How to find the Elkmont troll bridge in the Great Smoky Mountains
The Little River trail is in the heart of the historic Elkmont area, and it’s the best way to find the antique, moss-covered troll bridge.
To get to the bridge, take a side trail that you will find to the right of the Little River trail, about 100 feet in.
The side trail will take you through the forest until you reach a bridge. This bridge is unmarked and is over a small creek.
How long is the Little River trail?
The Little River Trail is a popular trail because it is easy, historic and perfect for families. The trail also offers a beautiful stream and small waterfalls along the path.
It is considered to be between easy and moderate in difficulty. Roundtrip, it’s a little under five miles, but you can also choose to walk a section of it and turn back around.
You can hike the trail at any time, but the most popular seasons to enjoy the trail is in the spring, when the wildflowers are in bloom, or in summer when you might see the area’s synchronized fireflies.
Hiking responsibly in the Great Smoky Mountains
We like to remind our readers to hike responsibly when they enjoy the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the world with 12.4 million visitors in 2020.
But unfortunately, an increase in visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has led to an increase in trash, waste and litter on the mountains.
All hikers and visitors who visit the Great Smoky Mountains are advised to follow the principles of Leave No Trace, a mission that teaches and inspires people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly and help preserve plant and animal life.
Have YOU found the troll bridge in the Great Smoky Mountains? What are your favorite secret spots? Let us know in the comments!
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