While the trail is flat and level as it follows the Bradley Fork, once the trail crosses the trestle bridge, the trail narrows and has roots that pop up from time to time.
The Cabin Flats trailhead is on the Bradley Fork Trail
, which departs out of the back of the Smokemont Campground. Park as close to Loop D as possible (some of the campground is closed in the winter) and then head out of the back of the campground along a wide, gravel trail. Continue along the Bradley Fork of the Oconaluftee River until you reach mile 4.0, where the Bradley Fork Trail
goes off to the right while Cabin Flats Trail continues straight.
As the trail leaves the Bradley Fork Trail
, the trail remains wide and gravelly as it follows the stream, making your journey easy. The trail crosses the stream via an old trestle bridge, an odd sight this far in the woods. At this point, the trail narrows as it turns left and starts to rise above the stream via some switchbacks. There are some giant trees in this area that escaped the logging companies. Around .3 mile, the trail crosses a log bridge with a handrail and arrives at a junction with the Dry Sluice Gap Trail
, which climbs to the Appalachian Trail (AT).
Going off to the right, the Cabin Flats Trail continues to climb, less steeply now. At roughly .75 miles, the trail crests and begins to descend back to the creek. As it approaches the water, the trail turns to the right and follows the creek until it ends at Campsite #49. At this point, you can stay and enjoy the campsite if you have a reservation. Otherwise, it's a good place to have lunch or a snack before heading back to one of the trails you passed or traveled along earlier.
Deer, bear, grouse, and various varieties of trout in the Bradley Fork.