Ross Gap Trails

With the multiple roads over the crest, the CT, and some old coalmine benches, Ross Gap is a fairly complicated spot. In addition to the CT, the old dirt road continues north from the gap, and two trails along old coal benches extend east and west from the gap along the north side of Bird Mtn. Though there are no official trails or named routes here, hikers exploring the area have attached names to many of the more prominent features. Because these are unofficial trails, only experienced outdoors people should attempt to follow them.

The old Ross Gap Road continues 4.3 miles north past Andrews Pond and down into Sang Branch to a ford of the Emory River to the paved Gobey Road at Gate 1 near the mouth of Sang Branch (six gated roads leading off Gobey Road are called Gate 0 through Gate 5 and were access roads for resource extraction that likely used existing older routes). On the right, the Frito Bench Trail (named for snack food found on an early Smoky Mountains Hiking Club trip) extends 2.0 miles east to Lake Williams on the crest of England Mountain and makes a fine, flat side hike. On the left, Marks Bench Trail (named for former CTC Board Member, Mark Shipley) follows the north slope of Bird Mountain to the west for 0.2 mile to a fork. The left fork will cross the Emory Tract section of the Cumberland Trail, while the right fork stays on the north slope of the mountain and leads to G-auger Pond (named for an old coal auger found nearby) and eventually to an old trail leading south along the crest of Bird Mountain. —HR