Smokies Hidden Gem

White Oak Sinks

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About 20 years ago a friend of mine told me about White Oak Sinks in the Smoky Mountians. He even drew a map for me ( see below). It wasn’t until last year that I finally took the trip down the trail to see for myself. Now if you go look for White Oak Sinks Trail on a Smokies trail map, you are going to be disappointed and frustrated, because you won’t find it. It is not an “official” trail, even though it is somewhat maintained and fairly heavily traveled. You have to start from the parking lot of Schoolhouse Gap Trail.

Hike 1.1 miles up the large trail to just past (<100 yards) Turkeypen Ridge Trail and you will see an unmarked ( except for the wooden rail stile) trail to the left.

From here it is probably about another mile into White Oak Sinks, with a couple a fairly strenuous uphill grades before getting into the Sinks area. What makes this area unique is the limestone composition which is the reason for the sinks ( sink holes). This also makes for the right growing composition for Virginia Bluebells and Shooting Stars. This is the only place in the Smokies that you will find these 2 wildflowers.

 

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The map above is still accurate, except for the Lady Slippers.. I have found one or 2, so I don’t know if they have dwindled out or have been poached..

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Word of warning.. The sink hole with the Bluebells has a trail down into the hole.. It is very steep and precarious… Enter at you’re own risk.

Enjoy.. I am considering put together an Ebook on hidden gems of the Smokies, but many of these will require some effort (hiking) to get to! Let me know if you are interested..

 

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