Located off US Highway 321 at the end of Baxter Road near the outskirts of Cosby, and the Smoky Mountain hiking trail ascends Maddron Bald, a 5,212-foot peak capped with one of the park’s most significant heath balds.
A highlight of Maddron Bald is Albright Grove, the home of the oldest cove hardwood forest in the park. Lumbering and episodes of blight nearly decimated the abundant groves here, but thanks to the protection of the National Park, this area remains. You’ll find mostly tulip poplars and hemlock, as well as birch, beech, maple, and buckeye trees.
After 0.7-miles from the trailhead, you’ll come to the Baxter Cabin, a wedding present given to the son of Willis Baxter and constructed from one single chestnut tree. This refurbished structure will give you an idea of how settlers lived in this area of the Smoky Mountains.
A half-mile further, you’ll come to an intersection where Gabes Mountain Trail and the Old Settlers Trail meet with Maddron Bald. Keep going south, as the trail ascends above Indian Camp Creek.
Plan to start your hike early to arrive here with plenty of daylight left. It will take you anywhere from four to six hours to complete this lengthy hike across several miles of trail through the breath-taking Smoky Mountains.