March 25, 2018
The March Classic Hike of the Smokies of the Deep Creek waterfall loop was led by Gracia Slater, who lacks just one hike to complete her second “map” – completing all 900 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
by Gracia Slater
Friends of the Smokies Classic Hike series kicked off the 2018 season on a lovely spring day at Deep Creek, outside of Bryson City.
Fourteen enthusiastic hikers met on March 13 at the Deep Creek parking area for a five-mile, three-waterfall walk.
We started up the 0.25 mile path to Juney Whank Falls, with a 90-foot drop on the upper and lower falls.
There are fine viewing and photo ops from the footbridge that crosses Juney Whank Branch.
Just above the falls, we turned right on Deep Creek horse trail and walked up and down through the woods 1.2 miles and past an old homesite with forsythia abloom and on to the intersection with Deep Creek trail. Here we turned left to cross the bridge and intersect with Indian Creek trail at the uppermost tubing put-in.
We turned left and in less than 50 yards we came to Indian Creek Falls, an impressive cascade with a 200-foot drop. There is a very short, newly refurbished side trail to the bottom of the falls. Above the falls is another good view from the bridge across the creek.
We walked 0.8 miles on up the gravel road with a gentle grade. Here we intersected with Loop Trail on the left. This is a good place for a banana or snack break, as the next 0.5 mile is a gradual ascent to the intersection with Sunkota Ridge trail. At this and every trail intersection, the hikers up front waited for those who wanted to take more time on the trail.
It is a good place to catch your breath and start the 0.6 mile descent to where the Loop trail intersects with Deep Creek trail at a wide footbridge across the creek—the perfect lunch-break spot in the sun and next to the rushing water.
Also, we saw there another old home site with plenty of forsythia blooming. It was a bit early in the season for much wildflower viewing, but we did see a few hepatica, bloodroot and one or two others.
After lunch, we hiked out 1.7 miles on the gravel road trail to the parking lot. Just 0.2 miles from the parking area, picturesque Tom Branch Falls, our third waterfall of the day, came into view.
We posed for a group picture and all agreed that it had, indeed, been another fine day in the Smokies.
Volunteer Billie Green and FOTS staffer Marielle DeJong served as sweeps for the hike.
Thanks to Linda Spangler for photos from the hike. You can see more photos of this hike and other Classic Hikes on FOTS Facebook page.
The April Classic Hike will be Pretty Hollow Gap to Little Cataloochee, on April 10. Avid hiker and author Danny Bernstein will lead the hike.
The hike will feature special guest Sean Perry of The Hands of Sean Perry Company. Through a unique partnership with Friends of the Smokes and the National Park Service, Sean and his crew donated their time and expertise to restore the Cook Cabin last year. During the project, Sean and his team camped in the remote area of the park. He will share his experience with the group and answer questions about the restoration process.
Individual hikes are $20 for current Friends of the Smokies members and $35 for new and renewing members. Funds go to support the Trails Forever program that restores popular trails in the GSMNP.
The Classic Hikes of the Smokies series is sponsored by Smoky Mountain Living, Mission Health, Diamond Brand Outdoors, Equilibar, HomeTrust Bank, Smoky Park Supper Club, and Leap Frog Tours.