Russell Field Trail

Russell Field Trail ends on one of the mountaintop balds

As its name implies, Russell Field Trail ends on one of the mountaintop balds, Russell Field – thus, the name Russell Field Trail. 

The balds were important in early Cades Cove life.  They were used by early frontiersmen and farmers for the grazing of cattle. Other fields used for this purpose are Gregory’s Bald and Spence Field. All three are high on the mountaintops overlooking the Cove and have one or more hiking trails leading to them.

russell field trail

Russell Field trailhead. Image by Jeaneane Payne

The Russell Field Trail begins in the picnic area, just before the Cades Cove Loop Road. The trail winds through old growth hemlocks and follows the left prong of Anthony Creek. Along the way, this Smoky Mountain trail goes by ideal campsites for those planning to camp in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Reaching the Summit

Once you reach the summit  the view is wonderful.  Some Smokies visitors are disappointed that trees obscure some of the view of the Cades Cove floor. These trees were not present in the 1800s. Fewer trees allowed for more grass for the cattle and more views of the surrounding area for those tending the cattle. Park officials are allowing some of the trees to grow back, yet they are still committed to maintaining most of the bald as a historical field – Scott Mountain Trail.

Scott Mountain Trail

About two miles above the Cades Cove Loop, at the intersection of Indian Gap and Crooked Arm Ridge trails, the Scott Mountain Trail begins. It ascends and finally descends approximately three and a half miles to the Schoolhouse Gap trail. This trail’s greatest feature is that of solitude.

The Scott Mountain Trail’s greatest drawback is that you must hike miles before reaching its beginning. To reach the trail, take the Cades Cove Loop Road to the trailhead of the Rich Mountain Loop Trail.  This is near the orientation shelter at the beginning of the cove. Walk one half mile up the trail and bear right on the Crooked Arm Ridge Trail. Two and a half to three miles up  there will be an intersection with the Scott Mountain Trail. Turn right onto it.

Keep in mind when choosing a hike in Cades Cove that a difficult day of hiking is six to eight miles for most people in good shape.   This hike, together with the effort to reach it, is about seven miles one way.  Enjoy the journey!

Smoky Mountain Hiking Club
• Rich Mountain Trail

Gregory Ridge Trail
Hannah Mountain Trail