Mountain LaurelsThis page describes three named peaks, Phils View (3583 feet), Mount Harrison (3510 feet), and Holy Butt (2950 feet). You'll hit Phils View and Holy Butt just by staying on the trail. Mount Harrison would be a short bushwhack off the trail; we decided not to bother with that. Phils View does have a lovely view, as a high point on the ridgeline leading up to Cove Mountain. These are not noteworthy as peaks but they make for a lovely hike on a trail that doesn't get many visitors.
This is a hiking destination, though with 2121 feet of elevation gain from Sugarlands. Include Cove Mountain to reach a summit 4150 feet. This would give you 2688 feet of elevation gain and a 17-mile round trip. The stretch between Holy Butt and Mount Harrison will twice touch residential neighborhoods on the park boundary, and you may be able to hear the bustle of the Ober Gatlinburg destination.
And yes, the smallest of the trio really is called Holy Butt. It began life as Holly Butte but spelling is apparently not a strong point in the region.
Access these peaks from the Gatlinburg on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The nearest airport is Knoxville.
There are three options.
1. Out-and-back from Sugarlands Visitor Center (1462 feet). Take the nature trail toward Cataract Falls, which begins on the back side of the Visitor Center. You may make hundreds of new friends on a summer weekend. From the Falls, find the trail to Laurel Falls to begin your steady ascent. It's probably about six miles to Phils View.
2. Out-and-back from Laurel Falls. After fighting people for a parking spot at the trailhead (2363 feet), join the huddled masses yearning to breathe free on the 1.3 miles to Laurel Falls (2600 feet). Keep going past the falls and you may not see another person as you climb the slopes of Chinquapin Knob through one of the park's few remaining old-growth forests. At the junction with Little Greenbrier Trail, take an optional side-trip (0.1 miles each way) to the Cove Mountain fire tower. At the junction, avoid the jeep trail and stay on the wide grassy trail that sticks to the ridge line. You'll be descending Chinquapin Ridge to these peaks, necessitating an uphill hike to return to the trailhead. To avoid this, I recommend option #3.
Laurel Falls (TN)
3. Shuttle from Laurel Falls to Sugarlands. Follow Option #2 and then keep going all the way to Sugarlands Visitor Center. Total distance is 12.4 miles, or 12.6 miles if you include the side trip to Cove Mountain fire tower. Starting elevation is 2363, maximum elevation 4150 at Cove Mountain fire tower, final elevation 1462. Hike in the reverse direction to increase your elevation gain. If you don't have two cars, you could walk a few miles down the road from Laurel Falls trailhead to Sugarlands to complete the loop.
Red TapeNo red tape.
When to ClimbThis is a low-elevation region of the Smokies, appropriate for all seasons. It will sometimes get snow in the winter, but rarely much. Fall colors in the region are beautiful.
CampingThere are no backcountry sites in this part of the park. The Elkmont campground is a few miles from the Laurel Falls trailhead.
External LinksGreat Smoky Mountains National Park