This 11-mile out-and-back hike on the Gregory Ridge and Gregory Bald Trails follows rough-and-tumble Forge Creek, swings past a campsite nestled in old-growth forest, climbs past oaks and mountain laurel then tops out at a 4949ft-high grassy bald with stunning mountain-and-valley views stretching in almost every direction. In June the summit is ablaze with bright blooms of flame azaleas.
Just past the Cades Cove Visitor Center parking lot, leave the Cades Cove Loop Rd and drive south on Forge Creek Rd for just over 2 miles. The road ends at a small parking area at the trailhead for the 4.9-mile Gregory Ridge Trail. At the end of the Gregory Ridge Trail, pick up the steep Gregory Bald Trail and follow it just over half a mile to the bald.