Barnes Cemetery Trail

greenbrier barnes map trail cemetery hike gsmnp smokies smoky mountain national park

Hike Time: 2 hours total (1hr each way)
Distance: 3.5 miles total

When I have a chance to go on a hike in the Smokies, I like to find places that are mostly unknown.

I came across a blog written by a man named Greg Hoover which he talks about his trip to the Barnes cemetery, which is completely unmarked and you will not find it on any current map.
Continue Reading

The trail is in the Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Past the ranger station, a sign will give you the option of going straight to Porter’s Trail, or left to the Ramsey Cascades Trail.  You will want to go left, over a series of wooden bridges.  (Yes, you can drive over them!)  After about a half mile, you will see a trail on the left side veering up a hill, paralleling the road.  (The GPS coordinates are 35.70668, 83.37505.)  Go ahead and park at the convenient roadside pull-off just past the trail head.

barnes cemetary
On the left, you can see the trailhead paralleling the road.

The trail parallels the road for the first 20 yards or so, then turns left.  The next 10 minutes will take you up a well carved out trail that parallels hand built stone walls. I would love to know the history of this area, because you will notice many piles of stones and more rock walls off the trail in the distance.

rock wall smoky mountains barnes cemetery trail
One of the many rock walls built in this area. This one is on the right side of the trail.

15 minutes after the hike began, you’re faced with a creek crossing.  It’s about 4 feet wide, and should be able to be traversed by stepping over two stones.  This river is called Bird Branch.  Climb to the top of the opposite bank, and the trail will be easy to locate again. The trail turns right, paralleling the river for the next 15-20 mins.
The Bird Branch river crossing.
smokies bird branch corssing gsmnp barnes trail
Looking back down the bank at the river you just crossed. This is the direction you need to go.

Depending on the season, the next left turn may be difficult to see, but the trail splits.  It is difficult to explain, but the turn should be fairly obvious, so don’t give in to sights that ‘might’ be a trail.  A small stack of rocks were already placed at the turn, as an indicator for others.
A small stack of rocks warns you of the upcoming left turn. Keep your eyes peeled.

**From here on, the trail becomes more difficult to follow.  It is very important to get your bearings, and start paying close attention to trail cues.**

After about 5 minutes after your left turn, you approach another small creek.  This is about half way to the Barnes graves.  The creek was barely running in January, but the trail follows this creek (or creek-bed) for much of the rest of the way.  The rest of the trail is a steady climb, and you remain in this valley zig-zagging the creek uphill.

The final 10 minutes of the trail takes a turn to the right of the creekbed, but is not in denser vegetation making it easier to follow.  At times, you may wonder if you’re walking a game trail because certain areas require you to duck your head. gsmnp barnes tail cascades
Narrow trails going steep uphill towards the gravesite.

The vegetation gives way, and the three graves are straight ahead.  A mossy forest floor provides a great spot to sit and rest . (The GPS location of the Barnes Cemetery is: 35.71828, 83.35930.)

barnes cemetery gravesite gsmnp

A homesite is a few minutes up the trail. Hopefully at this point, you’re still in good shape to reverse your steps and head home.  Be safe.

For more info about this hike, send me a message through my About page.