The Deep Creek Experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Deep Creek Experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park includes three impressive waterfalls found among the pristine mountain streams that appeal to anglers and tubers alike. Hikers love the trails that lead to the waterfalls. Cyclists love Deep Creek too; most trails in the National Park are closed to bicycles but not the Deep Creek and Indian Creek Trails. And with camping and picnicking available, what’s not to love about Deep Creek?

deep-creek-tom-branch-falls-protrails-heysmokies

Tom Branch Falls at Deep Creek. Photo credit: ProTrails

DEEP CREEK WATERFALLS

Juneywhank Falls – The beautiful 80-foot cascade, Juneywhank Falls can be viewed along a 1/3 mile steep trail from the Deep Creek trailhead parking area. This is a large parking area at the end of Deep Creek Road which is located across the creek from Deep Creek Campground.

Tom Branch Falls – Another impressive 80-foot waterfall can be accessed from the Deep Creek trailhead parking area. Walk along the flat and wide Deep Creek Trail about 1.4 mile to Tom Branch Falls.

Indian Creek Falls – Continue along Deep Creek Trail past Tom Branch Falls for another mile to Indian Creek Falls. Follow the trail about 200 ft. uphill to view the top of falls the plunges over 25 feet into Deep Creek. There is a small spur trail that leads to the bottom of the falls.

There are two loop trails that can take you to all three trails: Three Waterfalls Loop which is 2.4 miles and Deep Creek-Indian Creek Loop which is a moderate 5 miles and a favorite hike for viewing spring wildflowers.

OTHER DEEP CREEK TRAIL HIKES

Martin’s Gap Loop – Take Deep Creek to Martin’s Gap to Sunkota Ridge to Indian Creek and then back to Deep Creek. This is a 12-mile trip rated easy to moderate.

Deep Creek Trail to Newfound Gap Road – This one-way hike requires a second vehicle shuttle and is mostly enjoyed hiking down from Newfound Gap Road for the 14.2 miles with a rating of easy to strenuous.

Noland Divide Trail to Beauregard Ridge – There are great views rewarded after the 2.5 mile vertical hike of 1,820 ft. And for even more adventure the Noland Divide Trail connects Deep Creek with Clingman’s Dome Road for a one-way 11 mile hike. A two-car shuttle would be required for this hike.

There are also backcountry campsites available on some trails and reservations may be obtained by visiting www.nps.gov.

Deep Creek Campground & Picnic Area Pavilion 
The Deep Creek Campground is open from early April until late October. Deep Creek has 92 campsites for tents and RVs. Maximum vehicle length allowed in Deep Creek is 26 feet long. Reservations may be obtained by calling 877-444-6777 or visit www.recreation.gov.

Picnic facilities include a large pavilion with fireplace, picnic tables, restrooms, and changing rooms. All of this is only a few steps from Deep Creek itself.

Fishing in Deep Creek
Fishing is a favorite pastime in Deep Creek with miles of streams to try your skills. Fishing regulations are available at all National Park Visitor/Welcome Centers. A Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license is required. Visit Bryson City to pick up your fishing license or visit www.ncwildlife.org or www.tn.wildlifelicense.com to purchase online.

Tubing in Deep Creek
Be advised that swimming and tubing in the waters in the National Park are not recommended by the National Park Service. However, there are commercial outfitters located outside the park boundary on Deep Creek Road for tube rides on the Upper whitewater section for adults with good swimming skills and the Lower Section which is more appropriate for swimmers of all ages. Be sure to bring a PFD (personal flotation device) aka life jacket! For more information on tubing companies, contact the Swain County Chamber of Commerce at 828-488-3681.

Biking in Deep Creek
Mountain bikers can take advantage of one of the few park trails where bicycles are permitted. Bicycles are allowed on Deep Creek and Indian Creek trails to the points where the old roadbeds end and the trail treads begin.

Directions to Deep Creek
Deep Creek is located on the North Carolina side of the National Park near Bryson City. From downtown Bryson City, take Depot Street east to Deep Creek Road. Turn left and drive 2.3 miles to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance, and then a half-mile to the parking area for the Deep Creek Trailhead. Bryson City is about 65 miles from Asheville, 13 miles from Cherokee and 47 miles from Gatlinburg.

deep-creek-kephart-memorial-heysmokiesDeep Creek History
Deep Creek was a favorite of park advocate Horace Kephart. His famous Camp Bryson was located a few miles up Deep Creek Trail. If you decide to undertake this amazing hike through the Deep Creek watershed be on the lookout for the old millstone marker tribute to Kephart. This millstone was placed by the Boy Scouts of America, Horace Kephart Troop in 1931. The plaque on the marker reads:
On this spot Horace Kephart  – Dean of American Campers and one of the Principal Founders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – pitched his last permanent camp.

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