We’ve already talked about the ghostly intrigue that is the abandoned town of Elkmont. What we didn’t mention was one of the best hidden sights you’ll find when you visit that mountain ghost town: an honest-to-goodness troll bridge.
Restored and Preserved
Much of Elkmont’s original shape and structure has been torn down over the years due to safety concerns and clutter. The troll bridge, however, was spared this fate. Instead, state park officials had it cleaned up and fully restored. This bridge is as sturdy and photogenic as ever. You can cross it, pose for photos on it or just sit back and enjoy its quaint beauty.
What’s a Troll Bridge, Anyway?
You may be wondering what makes a troll bridge. Well, unfortunately there isn’t an actual troll underneath the Elkmont troll bridge (that we know of), but it has the look and feel of an old European bridge ripe for a good fable.
The story of the troll bridge has been told many different times, most famously in the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff (other iterations have the troll replaced with a wolf). The gist of the story is that there’s a troll waiting under the bridge to eat unwary travellers. Sometimes he may even make you answer a riddle. If you can outsmart him or trick him, you can cross the bridge scott-free!
Find the Troll Bridge in May or June
Really you can visit the troll bridge whenever hiking is open in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but May and June are particularly vibrant. The moss is bright, the salamanders are scurrying about and the famous synchronized fireflies of Elkmont are out in full swing.
The troll bridge is located down a side trail just off the main Little River Trail. It’s not hard to find if you know where to look, and the path is simple and safe for beginners. There’s plenty of small wildlife around (and keep an eye out for something bigger!).
Vacation Cabins in Gatlinburg
The troll bridge is just one of the Smoky Mountains' many hidden treasures. You wouldn’t think of Tennessee as the place to find something right out of a European fairy tale, but between this and the Fairy House, you could almost mistake your Gatlinburg cabin for a Scottish castle!