This Smoky Mountains valley was named by early settlers for the large number of Sugar Maple trees growing in the valley. As can be seen in the historical photo above, this was a vast area of fairly level ground. Settlers arrived in the area around 1800 … the Reagans, Ogles and Trenthams who formed the foundation of the homesteading community. The photo below shows how the forest has reclaimed virtually all of the former farming landscape.
This wonderful section of the Smokies can be explored today via several trails. The Old Sugarlands Trail starts from Newfound Gap Rd 200 yards before the Visitor Center. The trail follows the course of the old TN Route 71 through the farming bottomlands, past stone walls and homestead foundations. Eventually the trail turns away from the Left Prong of the Little Pigeon River and heads over to meet up with Cherokee Orchard Rd near the Rainbow Falls trailhead. This is a good hike to do with two cars, leaving one at either end of the trail.
If you are traveling in the Smokies, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg. You’ll find my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos, along with mugs, magnets and notecards.
The historical photo on the top of this page taken by Jim Thompson. Used with permission of C.M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library.