If you’re looking to explore a bit of history on your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then one place you may like visiting is the Mingus Mill.
This may be the best mill to visit in the Smoky Mountains.
The Mingus Mill is one of the great historic mills that is located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
According to the National Park Service:
Built in 1886, this historic grist mill uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the machinery in the building.
The National Park Service also lists that it’s buildings like Mingus Mill that makes Great Smoky Mountains National Park home to “one of the best collections of log buildings in the eastern United States.”
Read more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a world heritage site.
And if the historical aspect interests you, you may also be interested in going to Cades Cove where there is a mill and cabins (like this historic log cabin), or you may be interested in driving the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail where you’ll find another mill along with more cabins.
Planning a visit to Mingus Mill
So a lot of the popular things to do in the Smoky Mountains are located on the Tennessee side.
But the Mingus Mill is located on the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains.
Driving from Gatlinburg to Mingus Mill is about a 1 hour drive.
Explore the map.
That one hour drive is without stops though! You may want to make stops on your way to the Mingus Mill.
If you’re looking to maximize your time and you’re staying in Gatlinburg, the best time to visit the Mingus Mill may be on the day you go to Clingmans Dome.
The Mingus Mill is located on the Newfound Gap Road, which is the main road that runs north to south through the Smoky Mountains. You’ll take this road to get to the turnoff onto Clingman’s Dome Road. There are stops you can make on the drive to Clingman’s Dome, and then after your visit there, you can keep driving further south to get to Mingus Mill.
The turnoff for Clingman’s Dome Road is about halfway between Gatlinburg and Mingus Mill.
Explore the map.
There is a bathroom at the Mingus Mill parking lot.
Side note! See the more of the Smoky Mountains:
- Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains
- Best hikes with VIEWS in the Smoky Mountains
- Best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains
- Driving the scenic route from Gatlinburg to Clingman's Dome
- Driving the slow scenic route from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove
- The big list of things to do in the Smoky Mountains
The trail to Mingus Mill
There is a good size parking lot at Mingus Mill. Once there, you’ll see the trail.
You will take the trail and after a couple of minutes of walking, you will end up at the Mingus Mill and you can walk around!
In normal times it seems as though you can go inside the building. There also seems to be a demonstration of the grinding process to make cornmeal. In 2020 it was not possible to go inside because of public health reasons. It was only possible to peek inside from the doorway.
But there was still someone there that you can talk to who will tell you everything you want to know about the past mill operations, along with anything else you want to know about the lifestyle of the old days in the Smoky Mountains.
And that’s a bit about the historic Mingus Mill on the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains!
For another mill in the Smoky Mountains, there is also a smaller mill you can see on the Tennessee side of the Smoky Mountains when you drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
And if you are looking for more to on the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains, you can keep driving further south to go to the Deep Creek waterfalls that includes:
Also, the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm outdoor museum is just a few minutes drive from Mingus Mill. And if you’re there in the evening, there can be a good chance that you’ll see elk there!
And if you’ll be camping in the Smoky Mountains and haven’t yet decided where to stay, the Smokemont Campground is also just a few minutes drive from Mingus Mill.
HAPPY VISIT TO MINGUS MILL!
Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky MountainsYou will want good shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains.
In general, the best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains will be hiking boots (more ideal) or trail running shoes (more versatile for everyday activities compared to hiking boots but still will give you advantages compared to regular shoes).
I liked wearing my hiking boots for the thicker soles (good on rocky trails) and the waterproof (water resistant) nature of them.
They were especially helpful on rainy day hikes to keep my shoes (and socks!) dry! They are also better to be walking on mud compared to regular shoes.
On rougher terrain (like the trails that are a bit rougher with more rocks), hiking boots are more ideal so you won't feel it on the bottoms of your feet as much.
If you want shoes that can work out better as everyday "out and about" kind of shoes, then you might like trail running shoes better! Trail running shoes are a little more durable than regular shoes, so they can also work out as good hiking shoes. Trail running shoes are a bit lighter weight and less bulky compared to hiking boots.
Shoe fit is very important for your feet! Be sure to break in your new shoes by walking around the neighborhood and/or at the grocery store before you go on your "big hike" in the Smoky Mountains!