Deep Creek Loop

Type of Adventure: Hiking
Total Distance Hiked: 4.7 miles
Location: Deep Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park (just outside of Bryson City)
Parking:  35.464266, -83.434574

If you like mountain creeks, waterfalls and hiking, you have to visit Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain Wilderness just outside of Bryson City.

Entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain Deep Creek Area

For this particular trip, I had a few hours to spare after a conference in Cherokee and decided to get in a short hike in the Smokey’s. After doing a little research, and being the waterfall lover that I am, I decided on the Deep Creek Loop.

Trip Summary
From the parking lot, the trail begins and follows along the banks of Deep Creek. You will hike upstream climbing a gentle incline for just over 1.7 miles before the trail takes a sharp right turn and heads up nearly 400′ over a ridge at the 2.5 mile mark. Once you cross the ridge, the trail will drop back down on the other side until you pick up Indian Creek at mile 3, which the trail follows back down past Indian Creek falls at mile 3.8 before intersecting  back in with the loop trail at Deep Creek at mile 3.9.

The Hike
Shortly after starting the hike along Deep Creek, you will pass Tom Branch falls on your right.

Not far after beginning your hike up Deep Creek, Tom Branch Falls will appear on your right.

Not far after beginning your hike up Deep Creek, Tom Branch Falls will appear on your right.

A series of four bridges will take you back and forth across Deep Creek, but if you hike the loop in a clockwise direction, follow the trail along Deep Creek for 1.7 miles. After crossing the forth bridge, the trail will turn sharp the the right, and begin a 400′ climb over a ridge. This will get your heart pumping as you will gain this elevation in just 6/10 of a mile.

And old wooden sign marks the intersection of several trails at the top of the ridge.

And old wooden sign marks the intersection of several trails at the top of the ridge.

From the top of this ridge, the trail will drop back down through some nice mountain laurel.

Mountain laurel almost creates a tunnel effect as you descend the ridge.

At the bottom of the ridge, the trail will intersect with an old roadbed along Indian Creek. Turn right and follow Indian Creek downstream.

After 1 mile of walking along Indian Creek, you will begin to hear the rumble of Indian Creek Falls. The “falls” is actually more of a 40′ water “slide”, but it is impressive none the less. There are plenty of places to get down the bank to explore.

Indian Creek Falls from the top.

Indian Creek Falls from the top.

Indian Creek Falls as seen looking upstream. Photo credit: Zack Wynne

Once you leave the waterfall, less than 1/10th of a mile away the trail will intersect back with Deep Creek near the second bridge. Making a left will take you back toward the parking lot to finish your hike.

If You Visit Deep Creek in the Summer
On the drive in to Deep Creek, you will pass several businesses that rent tubes. If you happen to visit during the warmer summer months, it can be a blast if Deep Creek water level is high enough to rent a tube and float the rapids and waterfalls back to the parking lot.

Elevation profile of the Deep Creek Loop (clockwise direction). Notice the steep incline over the ridge.

Elevation profile of the Deep Creek Loop (clockwise direction). Notice the steep incline over the ridge.

Deep Creek Loop Trail from Google Earth

Deep Creek Loop Trail from Google Earth

Deep Creek Loop GPX – For most GPS Units
Deep Creek Loop KML – For Google Earth

Garmin Adventure (coming soon)

Download All ExploreNCOutdoors GPS Files

 

 

Posted in Hiking, Mountains and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *