(N 35.7211, W – 83.3952): For runners looking to tackle truly tough trails, the Smokies is the spot. If you run in stouter footwear and want the workout of dodging rocks or climbing and descending steeper grades, try the Old Settlers Trail. This 17 mile run undulates between Greenbrier Road, not far from the Ramsay Cascade trailhead and US 321 near Cosby. It follows old roads through what was once one of the park’s more populated areas. You’ll pass all kinds of evidence of settlement including decaying structures and spectacular stone walls. If you use a hiker shuttle, you can run the entire trail and be ferried back to your car, otherwise, run out and back to customize your run. A nice 13.2-miler takes you from the Greenbrier Road trailhead to a turnaround at the park’s Campsite 33 (just beyond is a major descent!).
Directions: From Gatlinburg turn onto US 321 at traffic light # 3 and go 6 miles to a right turn onto Greenbrier Rd. In 3 miles, bear left at the fork in the road and park on the left just beyond a bridge in 0.15 miles.