Living less than an hour from the Smoky Mountains, we are not lacking for hikes.
Unfortunately, Smoky Mountain National Park does not allow dogs on trails—and we have a dog who loves to hike. So, we’re always on the hunt for new dog friendly trails near Knoxville, TN.
A few weeks ago, my husband John stumbled upon a new-to-us trail about 30 miles north of Knoxville, at Cove Lake State Park in Caryville, TN. The name of the trail? Devil’s Racetrack.
The name alone is intriguing, and when you add to that a few waterfalls and an overlook—how can you not give that a go? So we did.
On a 70-plus-degree Saturday, John and I—and our Old English Bulldog, Gus—drove up to Cove Lake State Park for our Devil’s Racetrack adventure.
Devil’s Racetrack Trailhead to Triple Falls
For directions to Devil’s Racetrack trailhead, put this address into your GPS: 1684 Bruce Gap Rd, Caryville, TN 37714. If you use AllTrails, this is also what you’ll get when you click Directions.
Much of the trail is through the woods with moderate elevation changes and a few switchbacks here and there. I give that first main section of trail a moderate rating in terms of difficulty.
For me, the most difficult part was not slipping on the leaf-covered trail. John didn’t have any issue, but I forgot my hiking boots and wore regular tennis shoes. I definitely recommend hiking boots or shoes for this trail. Even if there are no leaves on the ground—depending on the time of year—many AllTrails reviews mention it being muddy. For us, it was only muddy near the waterfall, and that was after very little rain. If it had rained recently before our hike, I’ve no doubt it would’ve been much muddier. Plan accordingly!
Just before we got to the waterfall, there was a section of rocks we had to climb down—almost like stairs, but they weren’t actual steps. They were regular ol’ rocks and we used our best judgment on the best path down them.
Two final notes on this section of the trail:
- A few spots were difficult to follow on the way to the waterfall. Possibly because of the leaves, but also because some of the white marked trees seemed further apart. I recommend using the AllTrails “Navigate” option to make sure you stay on the path. The way back seemed much easier to follow.
- If you’re looking for a tranquil hike, this probably isn’t the hike for you. The bulk of the trail runs right next to highway I-75, with plenty of traffic noise. It didn’t hinder the hike for us, but I want to make that clear for anyone who’d rather get away from the sounds of modern civilization.
Triple Falls at Bruce Creek
The distance from the Devil’s Racetrack trailhead to Triple Falls was between 2.25 and 2.5 miles. I didn’t track it well enough to give a more certain mileage.
What I can say with certainty is that Triple Falls is gorgeous! For me, it was the highlight of the hike—even more so than Devil’s Overlook, which I’ll tell y’all about in a bit.
Triple Falls (also known as Little Egypt) is just like it sounds. Three sections of waterfalls with pristine pools at the bottom of each. I’ll let these photos say the rest.
Given the perfect weekend hiking weather, it surprised me that there weren’t more people at the falls. I suppose early March is still too early for some, despite the temperature.
Another reason I thought the waterfall might be crowded? There’s an easier way to get to it than Devil’s Racetrack. Yup. Triple Falls Trail at Bruce Creek has its own parking lot and roundtrip to the falls and back is only 1.9 miles total. It’s ideal if you only want to see the falls without a lot of distance—though I can’t speak to it from personal experience.
Triple Falls to Devil’s Overlook
Devil’s Overlook is one of those “but wait, there’s more” situations. I mean, Triple Falls alone makes the hike worthwhile, so you could turn around there and be satisfied. But wait. There really is more. If you’re willing to commit to another 2 miles roundtrip (starting and ending at the falls)—which also happens to be the most strenuous part of the entire hike—you’ll reach Devil’s Overlook.
Overall, the Devil’s Racetrack trail is listed as Hard on AllTrails. This section of the trail is why.
Being this was our first hike of the year, my legs and lungs were none too thrilled. I also have this weird thing where if I stop too long or slow down too much, that somehow makes it harder for me to keep going. So I powered through it, huffing and puffing. Gus started to slow down at this point, too, so he took a bit longer and needed a few water breaks.
But we made it to the top and it was a literal 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape below and distant mountains. Nothing like a peak to give you that sense of victory on a hike.
And then we did it all again in reverse.
Final Thoughts on Devil’s Racetrack, Triple Falls, and Devil’s Overlook
Overall, our fitness watches clocked us in at doing 6.5 miles roundtrip from Devil’s Racetrack trailhead to Devil’s Overlook and back. I would have saved and shared my navigation to AllTrails but I forgot to turn it off and it recorded some of our driving, too. Whoops!
Would I do this hike again? Yes. No doubt.
I love a longer hike that challenges me, and this one gave me that. Bonus points if that hike includes a waterfall or a viewpoint—and this one has both.
Not that anyone asked, but I’d give this hike 4 out of 5 stars. I’ve hiked better. I’ve hiked far worse.
I hope this helps any of y’all who may be considering this hike. If you’re in the area and you’ve got your hiking boots, lace ’em up and go!