Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Geographic Location: north of
Bryson City, NC
Length: 4.9 miles
Difficulty: 6/10 (Moderate)
Last Hiked: October 2012
Overview: An exceptionally scenic hike passing three significant waterfalls.
Park Information: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.htm
Google Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=138812
Directions to the trailhead: From downtown
, go north on Bryson City Deep Creek Road, following signs for Deep Creek Campground. Enter the national park and drive to the signed waterfall trailhead, a large blacktop parking area to the left of the main road. Park here.
The hike: For my introduction to fall hiking in the Smokies, see the Flat Creek hike. How many hikes do you know that squeeze three significant waterfalls into less than 5 fairly easy miles? I suspect not many, but that is what you will get on the Deep Creek Loop described here. I timed my visit here to make this hike my 400th blog hike, and I was not disappointed. Of all of my
hikes, this one might be the most scenic. Smoky Mountain
Unfortunately, Deep Creek’s scenic value and ease of hiking are well known. You can come early in the morning to minimize the crowds, but you still almost surely will not be alone here. When I hiked here on a crisp fall Friday morning, the parking lot was about half full when I returned around . I suspect it overflows on nice summer weekends.
|Trailhead: Juney Whank Loop Trail|
The climb continues, albeit on a more gradual grade. At 0.2 miles, our trail to Juney Whank Falls exits to the right and descends some steps to reach the wooden bridge that serves as the viewing platform. This 20-foot waterfall has a twist: water spills over the first ledge, disappears to the right, then drops down the rock face directly in front of you. The sheer rock face around the waterfall looks imposing, so take a few minutes to enjoy the water’s antics.
|Juney Whank Falls|
|Descending on Juney Whank Loop Trail|
0.6 miles into the hike, two benches beside the trail give places to rest as you view Tom Branch Falls, the second significant waterfall on this hike. The 40-foot waterfall drops and slides down several layers of rock before emptying directly into Deep Creek. Shrubs on either side frame the falls nicely.
|Tom Branch Falls|
The Deep Creek Trail crosses Indian Creek on a bridge and, just after crossing Deep Creek for a second time, intersects the upper end of the Deep Creek Horse Trail. Turn right to continue up the Deep Creek Trail. The trail continues its gradual climb as some picture-perfect views of the creek and surrounding mountains open up on the right.
|Deep Creek valley|
|Climbing on the Loop Trail|
3 miles into the hike, the Loop Trail ends at its junction with the Indian Creek Trail. Turn right to begin the final leg of this loop. The Indian Creek Trail is another two-track dirt road similar in width and appearance to the Deep Creek Trail. Thus, the hiking is once again very easy.
At 3.5 miles, the trail crosses Indian Creek on another old road bridge. Being a tributary of Deep Creek, Indian Creek is narrower than its deeper counterpart and has much more rhododendron crowding its banks. At 3.8 miles,
can be seen below you to the right, and soon a short spur trail leads down some steps to the falls’ base for the ideal view. Indian Creek Falls is a cascading waterfall about 20 feet in height. The dark colored rocks contrast nicely with the white froth on the water and green rhododendron. Indian Creek Falls