Hiking

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Hiking

With close to 900 miles of wilderness trails, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
is a hiker’s paradise. With 40 percent of the national park in Swain County, many of those trails are easily accessible from Bryson City. You’ll find a number of trailheads in the Deep Creek area of the Park, just two miles north of town, and also off Lakeview Drive (the “
Road to Nowhere”) (see below) eight miles north of Bryson City. These include:

Deep Creek Loop (Trails: Deep Creek to Loop Trail to Indian Creek and Back to Deep Creek) — 4 miles, easy to moderate. The trail is fairly level except for a one-mile section that crosses the 420-foot Sunkota Ridge (Loop Trail section). The trail passes by two nice waterfalls – Toms Branch Falls and Indian Creek Falls.

Download a printable PDF map of the Deep Creek trails and waterfalls.

Martin’s Gap Loop (Trails: Deep Creek to Martin’s Gap to Sunkota Ridge to Loop Trail to Indian Creek and back to Deep Creek) — Approximately 12 miles, easy to moderate.

Deep Creek Trail to Newfound Gap Road — 14.2 miles, easy to strenuous. For most this is a one-way hike, requiring a second vehicle at the end of the trail. Many choose to walk this trail “down” from Newfound Gap Road.

Noland Divide Trail to Beauregard Ridge — A vertical rise of 1,820 feet in 2.5 miles from the Deep Creek Campground. There are great views to the south over Deep Creek Valley and Bryson City. For the more adventurous, the Noland Divide Trail connects Deep Creek with Clingmans Dome Road. 11.2 miles one way. This too is a one-way hike for most.

Noland Creek Trail — 6 miles in and out, easy. From a parking lot near the end of the “Road to Nowhere”, Noland Creek trail is an old service road with a gentle grade. Near the three-mile mark you'll see the remnants of an old farm.

Through the tunnel at the end of the “Road to Nowhere”, there's the 3-mile Goldmine Loop Trail and the 42-mile Lakeshore Trail, which crosses Forney Creek, Hazel Creek and Eagle Creek on its way to Fontana Dam.

The Appalachian Trail stretches through Swain County from south of the Nantahala Gorge; across Fontana Dam and then follows the highest ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park past Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap on its way to Maine. You can access the trail at Wesser in the Nantahala Gorge, Fontana Dam, Newfound Gap, and at Clingmans Dome. A popular section of the trail is from Newfound Gap to Charlie’s Bunion, which passes through a spruce and fir forest with spectacular vistas. The 8-mile-round-trip walk has an elevation gain of 980 feet.

Self-Guided Nature Trails — The National Park has several self-guided nature trails in Swain County: Spruce-Fir -- 0.5 mile. It begins on Clingmans Dome Road. This walk introduces you to the conifer forests that grow only on the high peaks this far south in the eastern U.S.;

Smokemont — 0.75 mile. It begins at Smokemont Campground. The walk shows examples of human impact on the land, such as logging and farming; and Balsam Mountain: -- 0.75 mile. It begins at Balsam Mountain Campground. See how nature has reclaimed a once-logged northern hardwood forest.

Not all our trails are inside the park. There are many trails along the shores of Fontana Lake, land owned by either the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) or the U.S. Forest Service. The multi-use trail system at Tsali, famous among mountain bikers, is but one example. Tsali is 15 miles west of Bryson City off Highway 28.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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