This is a short, sweet hike with a special and nearly secret destination. Jakes Creek Trailhead is the starting point, which is found by turning left just before entering the Elkmont campground. Go on past the first parking area for the Little River Trail, to the new parking area near the old Elkmont cabins. Walk up the road to find the Jakes Creek Trail sign. Continue on Jakes Creek Trail, passing the Cucumber Gap trail at .3 miles, also passing the Meigs Mountain Trail at .4 miles. Go another quarter mile or so and watch carefully for the wooden steps (see photo below) leading to the right and down the hill towards Jakes Creek. No sign will indicate the trail to this hidden Smoky Mountain gem. The trail continues down to a footbridge crossing the creek, and just up a short incline the cabin comes into view.
Mayna Avent was a Tennessee artist, living from 1868 to 1959. She used the cabin as her summer studio from the 1920s to 1940s. The cabin was originally built sometime around 1850 and was purchased in 1918 by the Avent family. Mayna’s son Jim cut the large windows in the mid-1920s to make the cabin more suitable as an artist’s studio. The National Park took ownership of the cabin in 1932, but the Avent family was given a lifetime lease, and they continued to use the cabin until 1992. Today the cabin rests peacefully on the mountainside, entertaining the occasional Smoky Mountain hiker. There is a guest book to sign, and a photo album of the cabin’s previous life as the home of an artist.
Standing on the porch, looking out over the silent mountains, it’s hard to imagine that the cabin once stood on the outskirts of a bustling Elkmont community that was replaced by the current campground.
Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.