Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
HIGHLIGHTS: The Great Smoky Mountains get more annual visitors than any other National Park in the U.S., but surprisingly most people never see the backcountry which has some of the most pristine wilderness in the Southeast. On this hike, we started at US 441 (just south of Clingmans Dome Road) and followed the Deep Creek Trail to the parking area near Deep Creek Campground and Ranger Station. The trail drops roughly 3000′ over fourteen miles as it follows a spring at the ridgeline which trickles down to the southern trailhead near Bryson City, North Carolina where it becomes a deep, wide and fast-moving stream.
For an overnight hike along Deep Creek Trail, there are numerous backcountry campsites including two reservation-only horse sites at #55 and #57 and six additional backpacker sites available on a first-come first-serve basis. We recommend campsites #56 and #60 which are well-suited for backpackers and have easy access to some nice trout waters with camping along the stream. The trail between campsites #54 and #60 have a surprising number of climbs along Deep Creek, so make sure you get an early start or save some energy if you plan to do more than seven miles on your first day.