Noland Creek Trail provides opportunity to step back in history before GSMNP established

November 15, 2021

hikers on Noland Creek Trail

by Lynda Doucette, hike leader

The October Classic Hike of the Smokies explored the Noland Creek Trail and some history of the families who were forced to move when TVA purchased the lands for the creation of Fontana Dam.

The land was then donated to the federal government to be added to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

wall along Noland Creek
Stone walls and building foundations remain from those who lived in the Noland Creek area before the land became part of GSMNP. All photos by Linda Spangler

The weather was ideal for our group of 27 to explore this area of the park.

The trail is a former road bed with a gentle grade so it made for an easy hike of just over four miles to Campsite 64 (our lunch spot).

The group spread out as we hiked but gathered together every so often to hear about the history of the area.

GSMNP Campsite 64
Hikers took a lunch break at Campsite 64.

History of the area

Participants learned that the trail was named for the Noland family and it never had a logging railroad. It was mostly a pastoral area full of farms.

log bridge over Noland Creek
This log bridge was one of several bridges the hikes crossed during the hike.

While there were logging companies who worked the area during the 1880s to early 1900s, it was modestly logged using cattle teams and flumes. Hiking it today, you might not realize it had ever been logged.

Noland Creek
Noland Creek

One of our first stops could have been a repeat of past hikes with an active yellow jacket nest nearby, but, luckily, nobody was stung this time!

cemetery in GSMNP
This cemetery is located near what was the estate of Phillip Rust and his wife, Eleanor Frances Dupont.

As we continued down the trail, we passed old home sites and former orchards.

We occasionally stopped to poke around old foundations and imagine living there. We learned about the old schools, electric fences, power plants, fish hatcheries, and even cabin rentals.

Upon arriving at Campsite 64, we enjoyed a nice break and some lunch.

Some hikers took the opportunity to explore another half mile past the trail to the former Phillip Rust property and a nearby cemetery.

The hike back was leisurely with everyone hiking at their own pace. All in all, it was a great day!


Thanks to Linda Spangler for providing her photographs for this post and many other FOTS blog posts.

Registration process

The Classic Hikes are the second Tuesday of the month, from March through December. The last hike of 2021 will be Old Sugarlands Trail on Dec. 14.

Registration for one hike is $35 for new members, which includes a one-year FOTS membership and one hike, or $20 for current FOTS members.

You must register for the hike prior to the day of the hike.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out by emailing marielle@friendsofthesmokies.org

Trails Forever improves GSMNP trails

Proceeds from the Classic Hike series benefit Trails Forever.

Trails Forever logo

Friends of the Smokies established the Trails Forever endowment in 2012, thanks to a matching gift from the Aslan Foundation in Knoxville.

Today, the endowment has grown to more than $6 million and funds a full-time trail crew in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to reconstruct and rehabilitate some of the park’s most impacted trails.

The FOTS Trails Forever crew restored Forney Ridge TrailChimney Tops TrailAlum Cave Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail and last year completed Trillium Gap Trail.

This year, Trails Forever is restoring the Abrams Creek Trail.

Learn more about contributing to the Trails Forever endowment.

Sponsored by:

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