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We hiked it! Rich Mountain Loop trail starts at the parking lot just before you start on the one way loop in Cades Cove, Townsend TN. Since this is a loop trail, you can hike it 2 ways. You hike a short distance to the intersection of the Scott Mountain trail. From that, you have a big decision to make! Do you like to start with a nice long UP? Go to the left. If you prefer a shorter up with lots of DOWN, go to the right.
Either way, you can’t go wrong. This was a beautiful hike with several nice views. While walking the ridgeline, you can see both Cades Cove and the Tuckaleechee valley. The highest spot of the hike is Cerulean Knob (3701 Ft, per AllTrails). The top of the knob is a .1 hike up off the trail and well worth it to say you were at the highest spot on the hike.
Keep your eyes open for wildlife! We saw a couple of deer. Several hikers have seen bear (we weren’t so lucky on our hike).
The loop is 8.5 miles and I would consider it a moderate rating. There is water at the beginning and near the end, however, there really isn’t much of a resupply location for water once you get up toward the ridgeline. You can get off trail at the intersection where back country campsite #5 is and go about .2 miles to a water supply if you need to. We did not check the water location out, so I do not know how reliable the water source is.