Travel along the Deep Creek Trail for a wonderful experience following Deep Creek to its source. Along the way, runners will pass numerous backcountry campsites on land that previously housed farmsteads, bear-hunting encampments, and fishing outposts.
Starting at the Deep Creek Falls and Trail Parking Area, travel north along the trail, passing a junction with the Juney Whank Falls Trail
as you handrail Deep Creek through lush deciduous forests dense with shrubby undergrowth. Along the early portion of the trail, keep your eyes peeled for swimsuit-clad inner tubers who frequent Deep Creek in the summertime to float its lazy, refreshing waters.
Beyond the first bridge over Deep Creek, the trail passes the western terminus of the Indian Creek Trail
before continuing over three more bridge crossings to a junction with the Loop Trail
. Head past the Loop Trail
through beautiful woodlands rich with mixed hardwoods to Bumgardner Branch Backcountry Campsite (#60).
Past the campsite, follow the trail as it winds around the flanks of a ridge before descending gently back to Deep Creek. Appreciate this small descent if you can, as it’s the only one on the entire trail. From here on out, the trail climbs gently, passing McCracken Branch Backcountry Camp (#59) and Nicks Nest Branch Backcountry Camp (#58) before reaching a junction with the Martins Gap Trail
along the southern edge of Bryson Place Backcountry Camp (#57).
From here until its end in a junction with Newfound Gap Road, the trail continues along the creek drainage, climbing past Burnt Spruce Backcountry Camp (#56), Pole Road Backcountry Camp (#55), Nettle Creek Backcountry Camp (#54), and Poke Patch Backcountry Camp (#53), as well as the eastern termini of the Pole Road Creek Trail
and the Fork Ridge Trail
. Near the trail's end, expect to climb rather strenuously as you switchback your way out of the Deep Creek drainage to the road above.
This content was contributed by author Ken Wise. For a comprehensive hiking guide to the Great Smoky Mountains and to see more by Ken, click here
Eastern hemlock, white pine, yellow poplar, cucumber tree, American beech, yellow birch, sugar maple, ash, sycamore, white basswood, and yellow buckeye command the canopy, while rhododendron, dog-hobble, and mountain laurel occupy the understory.