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Smoky Mountains

Hiking Club

Off Trail Hike: Hornet Treetop

  • 12/02/2023


  • For member hike registrations
  • For non-member hike registrations

Hornet Treetop is the last prominence on Defeat Ridge as it declines northeast to the middle fork of the Little River. It is best done in cool weather to avoid hornets and to provide views through the mixed hardwood canopy. The route begins at the end of the Tremont road, crosses Thunderhead Prong on the I-beam bridge, and then, after a short distance along a well-trodden railroad grade, ascends Long Branch to Hornet Treetop. Here we could make a short day of it by descending a ridge that runs due east back down to the valley floor. But we will probably be more ambitious and follow the crest of Defeat Ridge on up to an old CCC trail known to some as the Defeat Ridge Manway. Depending on how we feel about our progress at that point we may continue upward a short while to explore the Chimney Rocks. Regardless, we will complete this off-trail loop by following the old trace down to Thunderhead Prong, crossing at the stone bridge abutment, which may involve wet feet depending on recent rains. The manway leads through a short length of dense rhododendron to the upper terminus of the Thunderhead Prong railroad grade, which we will follow back down the valley toward the cars. Rated moderately difficult (off-trail); total distance ~7.5 mi, total climb ~2200 ft.

Leaders: Steve Dickinson and Mike Harrington

To register, contact the leaders directly. You can find contact information in the December 2023 newsletter writeup for this hike.

For information about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visit the NPS website or call the information line at (865) 436-1200.

Smoky Mountains Hiking Club

PO Box 51592

Knoxville, TN 37950-1592

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