Deep Creek Loop Trail

Categories: Hiking & Backpacking, Mountain Biking, Horseback Riding, Hikes to waterfalls, Swimming Holes, Back Country Horse Trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park... NC


  •  Peaceful hiking along one of the first trails constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (1930's) 
  •  Hike along Deep Creek and Indian Creek 
  •  Multiple waterfalls along the hike (Juney Whank Falls, Toms Branch Falls & Indian Creek Falls)
  •  Wildflowers 
  •  Wide trail for majority of the way 
  •  This trail is also open to horseback riding 
  •  Great fishing and swimming opportunities 
  •  Ranger station, Deep Creek Campground & Deep Creek Picnic Area/Shelter nearby

The Local Scoop

We highly recommend this hike to those in the Bryson City area. You can do this hike in sections or the entire loop. Once you access the main "Deep Creek Trail (lower)," hike along the banks of Deep Creek (crossing it once) and at 0.7 mile you'll see a predominant trail junction with the Deep Creek Trail continuing straight over the small bridge in front of you and the Indian Creek Trail heading uphill to your right. This is where the loop begins and ends, at the junction of Deep Creek Trail & "Indian Creek & Trail."
Here, you have two options.  
Option 1.
Take the right uphill and fairly strenuous along Indian Creek Trail.  Within minutes of taking Indian Creek Trail, you'll hear Indian Creek below you and at 0.1 mile from the junction is Indian Creek Falls. Take the short spur trail to the bottom of the falls and the rather large pool below. The falls are more like a large cascade or slide. If you feel up for a dip in the cold water this is a good spot for it! When I was younger, my brother and I used to slide down into the pool from the top. The rock face made for a bit of a bumpy ride but an exciting one at that! If you decide you want to attempt this do it with extreme caution. The last time I was there some trees had fallen onto the falls cluttering them up somewhat. So be aware of your surroundings.  We DO NOT recommend this to children.  Continue on up Indian Creek Trail to continue the loop and eventually you'll need to cross Indian Creek via footbridge. At approx. 1.5 miles into your hike you'll be at the junction of Stone Pile Gap & Thomas Divide Trails that splits off to the right.  Avoid this trail and continue going straight here. In just another couple tenths of a mile, the loop trail leaves the Indian Creek Trail to the left. Now comes the climb up and over Sunkota Ridge. After approx. 0.5 mile and 350 feet of elevation you'll reach Sunkota Ridge. The hard part is over and you'll have nothing but downhill from here until you reach Deep Creek at approx. 3 miles from the trailhead. Here you'll need to cross Deep Creek via the bridge to your left. Conitnue down this relatively flat stretch of old roadbed and along Deep Creek to your left, a truly peaceful stroll.  As you work your way back towards the trailhead and parking area you'll cross Deep Creek two more times and cross Indian Creek once in between.
Option 2.  
Instead of taking the right uphill along the Indian Creek Trail, you should continue straight ahead for 1 mile and over the small bridge (Indian Creek).  Continue up the trail crossing Deep Creek soon after as you bear to the right along the main Deep Creek Trail.  This section of the trail is flat and wide making for a peaceful hike through the forest and beside the creek.  At 1 mile from the Indian Creek Trail/Deep Creek Trail junction and 1.7 miles from the parking area you'll cross Deep Creek again.  Just over the bridge, look to your right for National Park trail signs for "Loop Trail," Sunkota Ridge" & "Indian Creek Trail."  Take this fairly steep section up and over Sunkota Ridge paying attention when at the top for your "Loop Trail" to continue to the right and back downhill to Indian Creek.  Once near the creek take a right onto Indian Creek Trail and follow it back down to the junction with Deep Creek Trail completing your loop.
If you have time and the energy, take the Juney Whank Falls Trail on your return hike to the parking area via the spur trail to your right once you've passed the benches along Deep Creek. We suggest taking this spur trail off of the main Deep Creek Trail on your way back. The spur trail will take you 0.2 mile up to the top of a hill and junction with the Deep Creek Horse Trail. Here, go left for approx. 1-2 minutes to another spur trail that goes to the left and down to the falls. You should see a small sign reading "Falls" with an arrow. Continue past the footbridge and falls for another 0.3 mile to get back to the parking area. In the end you will have made two loops and traveled approx. 4.8 miles while taking in the three popular waterfalls of this area.

The Local Directions

From Bryson City, NC
From downtown Bryson City, NC take Everett Street across the railroad tracks and to a right onto Depot Street. Travel along side the trains and train station for approx. 0.2 mile. At stop sign take a slight left and onto Deep Creek Road for approx. 0.3 mile. Here you'll need to take a left onto West Deep Creek Road, just before a bridge over Deep Creek. Continue up W. Deep Creek Rd. for approx. 2.5 miles crossing into Great Smoky Mountains National Park (see sign on your right). To get to the trailhead and parking area for Deep Creek Loop Trail continue on and bear to the left past the turn off for the campground on your right and avoiding the large picnic area on your right. The road dead ends at the parking area on the left near the trailhead. Pick up the trail just beyond the info kiosk up river (past Juney Whank Falls Trailhead). Here you'll see a hiking mileage sign that reads, "Indian Creek Trail 0.7 miles."  You'll also see a sign for "Loop Trail 1.7 miles." Continue up this main trail until you see more signs.

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Difficulty Levels

  • Hike8What's this?
  • Horse6What's this?
  • Waterfalls4What's this?
35.47244, 35.47244
Easy via "West Deep Creek Rd."/
Great Smoky Mountain National Park Entrance 
Hike Distance
4.5 miles (loop)
Nearest City
Bryson City
Swain County
Distance From
Bryson City, 3.1 miles