It's National Parks week! It can't be a coincidence that this time of year most people are also itching to get back out after the long winter. Out here in the southeast, the Smokies are just starting to come alive. Small wildflowers are blooming along rushing creeks and green buds are starting to creep up the mountain slopes. Cold mornings turn into warm afternoons and the bugs & humidity of summer haven't shown up yet. It's a downright wonderful time of year to hike.
We've been day hiking a bit up in the Smokies to get our trail legs underneath us before summer adventures. One of the closest areas to us in the Smokies is the Deep Creek campground and picnic area. There are a variety of hikes of both short and long lengths out of this one parking lot. Many include a nice stretch along relatively flat trails some of which parallel Deep Creek.
Here are some possible hikes to do around Deep Creek:
The Waterfalls Loop: Start at Deep Creek Trailhead. Start out from the lot toward Juney Whank falls. This waterfall is about .3 miles from the lot. Continuing on, you'll meet Deep Creek Trail. Tom Branch Falls will be across the creek on this trail after about .2 miles. Taking Deep Creek Trail, turn right onto Indian Creek Trail. After about .1 miles, Indian Creek falls is on your left (there is a short trail that brings you down to a better vantage point of the falls). Continue on Indian Creek trail past the waterfall for another .7 or so miles. You will see a sign for the Loop Trail on your left. This 1.0 mile trail connects Indian Creek Trail back to Deep Creek Trail. Once you get to Deep Creek Trail, turn left and you are about .7 miles from your car. Total Distance: ~3 miles, ~500 feet of elevation gain
Indian Creek to Sunkota Ridge Loop: Start at the Deep Creek Trailhead at the end of Deep Creek Road. In about 2/3 of a mile, take a right onto Indian Creek Trail. In 3.6 miles, pick up Martins Gap Trail. Take this trail for 1.5 miles and then turn onto Sunkota Ridge trail toward the Loop Trail. At the Loop Trail (also part of the Waterfalls Loop hike above), take a right to head back to Deep Creek Trail. It's just under 2 miles back to your car along Deep Creek Trail (you'll pass the turn-off for Indian Creek Trail about 2/3 of a mile from your car). Total Distance: ~12 Miles, ~2000 feet of elevation gain
Indian Creek to Motor Creek Loop: Start at the Deep Creek Trailhead at the end of Deep Creek Road. In about 2/3 of a mile, take a right into Indian Creek Trail. After just about 3 miles on Indian Creek Trail, take a right onto Deeplow Gap Trail. In less than 1/2 a mile, take a right onto Indian Creek Motor Trail. This trail will climb up 1.8 miles to the Thomas Divide Trail (there is an option to turn off the trail to go up to the Thomas Divide another way; you can go that way if you want but it will add mileage and elevation gain). At the Thomas Divide Trail, turn right and you'll go downhill for 2 miles until Stonepile Gap Trail. Take a Right at Stonepile Gap and in just under a mile, you'll be back at Indian Creek Trail. Turn Left and you are 1/2 mile from another left turn on Deep Creek Trail and then .67 miles from your car at the Deep Creek Trailhead. Total Distance: ~10 miles, ~1000 feet of elevation gain