The Flat Creek Trail begins on a roadbed near the side of a road "turnaround" that circles the end of the Heintooga Picnic Area. Beyond the turnaround, the trail traverses to Heintooga Overlook, which affords superb views across the Raven Fork drainage to Mount Guyot and the high Smoky divide.
Past Heintooga Overlook, the trail leaves the roadbed and drops off right onto a narrow, hard-packed dirt track that descends gently through a forest and into a bottomland to cross Flat Creek on a footlog. After a series of soggy stream crossings, the trail continues its gentle descent for a half-mile before approaching an access path to Flat Creek Falls exiting on the right.
Flat Creek Falls is a definite must-see in the Smokies, as the ruggedness, steepness, and rushing fall of the water, all compacted in a small isolated niche, engenders a wonderfully pleasant wilderness experience.
At the top of Flat Creek Falls, the only good vantage point is a rock platform on the far side of the stream that can be difficult to reach. The platform is along the top of a steeply angled, smooth rock shield about fifteen feet wide at the top and tapering over a distance of twenty-five feet to the narrow channel below. Flat Creek descends from a ledge into a small pool and then onto the shield, where it glides evenly and with little sound or turbulence, a deceiving prelude to the violently rushing torrent that follows below.
At the point where the Flat Creek Trail passes the access path to the falls, it begins a short climb over a low ridge that separates the Flat Creek drainage from that of Bunches Creek. A half-mile beyond the access to Flat Creek Falls, the trail crosses Bunches Creek twice on a footlog before starting into a short but steep climb to terminate at Heintooga Ridge Road.
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
Woodlands of red spruce, American beech, yellow birch, and striped and red maple make this trail a real treat.