Lower Forney Creek & Trail

Categories: Play, Hiking & Backpacking, Fishing


  •  3.3 mile hike to creek from Bryson City area 
  •  Secluded National Park stream that empties into the North shore of Fontana Lake 
  •  Nice population of Rainbow and Brown Trout w/Brook Trout in it's headwaters 
  •  5 primitive campsites (68,69,70, 71 & 74) along entire trail (#71 requires reservation) 
  •  2 of 5 campsites are located on the lower end (#74 & #71)

The Local Scoop

If you're into and adventure and into back country fishing and hiking, then the Forney Creek & Trail is for you. We highly recommend spending some time in this area if you have been in the backcounrty before. You'll need to have basic camping skills, ability to use a compass/map and you'll need to be with at least one friend. Feel comfortable with those things? Then we suggest giving this creek and trail a shot! In this Local Scoop I want to focus on the Lower Forney Creek & Trail. Follow my local directions to the trailhead at the dead end tunnel on Fontana Road. We suggest hiking through the tunnel. Other than the "cool factor" it cuts some time off your trip (also explained in my directions). You're picking up "Lakeshore Trail." Stay straight here for 2.9 miles and avoid the Whiteoak Branch Trail at approx. 2 miles in. At 2.9 take "Bear Creek Trail" to the Right fork until you reach Forney Creek in approx. 0.4 mile. You can either start fishing here or hike up the Forney Creek Trail a ways before wetting your line. Either way, you'll love this stream. I have had success with both Fly and Spinner fishing equipment. The fish in this stream average 6-10 inches and are usually fiesty, especially the Rainbows. You'll also find Brown Trout for about 4 miles up the stream and some Small mouth Bass in the extreme lower section. You'll find some native Brook Trout in the headwaters and in it's tributaries. We highley recommend to plan on camping. You'll have 2 main primitive campsites to choose from on the lower end of this area, #74 and #71. 74 is mostly used by folks accessing this creek & trail by boat from Fontana Lake. However, we would recommend it if you were arriving (via the 3.3 mile hike in from the Bryson City side) later in the day and needed to set up camp as soon as possible. In any other case we would recommend trying to reserve #71 at the intersection of Forney Creek Trail and Springhouse Branch Trail. Some campsites in the NP are by reservation only due to their popularity and location. You'll need to apply for a permit via the NPS. This is a secluded area. Be aware that if you happen to get hurt and you're alone, it will be lose/lose situation. Always take at least one person with you and this can be a great adventure.

The Local Directions

From downtown Bryson City, NC take Everett Street across the railroad tracks and continue West, leaving town. Drive for 8.5 miles crossing into Great Smoky Mountains National Park via the road dubbed, "The Road to Nowhere" by the local residents of Swain County. You'll cross a bridge over Noland Creek and just past that you'll be at a small parking area on the Right. Just ahead you'll see the entrance to a tunnel. The road dead ends here. Hike throught tunnel OR go around it. If you want to go around take the "Tunnel Bypass Trail" that you can find on the left side of the tunnel entrance. Take this trail for 1.6 miles around the tunnel. At 0.4 mile into the hike you'll need to bear Right as the trail forks. This trail is shared with the "Goldmine Loop Trail." Avoid it and continue to the Right. If you're hiking through the tunnel (bring flashlight) stay straight for 2.9 miles on the "Lakeshore Trail" (avoiding the Bypass trail & Goldmine loop trails coming in on your Left and Whiteoak Branch Trail to the Right) until you intersect with "Bear Creek Trail." Take this trail to the right for 0.4 mile until you run into Forney Creek. Start fishing here.

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35.460019, -83.53969
35.467224, -83.563503
Bryson City
Swain County
Distance From
FROM (Town): Bryson City, 11.8 miles Hike to Creek: 3.3 miles (one-way) Hike entire trail: 14.3 miles (one-way)