Deep Creek Trail (Lower)

Categories: Play, Kid-Friendly, Fishing, Mountain Biking, Horseback Riding, Hiking & Backpacking, Places of Interest, Backcountry Camping, Hikes to waterfalls, Outdoor Fun, Fishing for Wild Trout, Swimming Holes, River Rafting, Tubing & Kayaking, Back Country Horse Trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park... NC


  •  Deep Creek Trail runs for just under 15 miles from the parking area of Deep Creek to U.S. Hwy-441 near Newfound Gap
  •  The lower portion is easiest and relatively flat making for nice evening strolls along the creek, great for anyone
  •  8 backcountry campsites are located along this trail: #'s 53-60; 3 are by reservation only 
  •  Make sure you apply for a backcountry camping permit through the National Park Service before going
  •  Multiple Hiking, Biking and Horseback Riding trails within this area
  •  Hiking, Horseback Riding, Fishing, Mountain Biking, Tubing, Swimming, Camping are all accessible by this trail 
  •  Ranger station, Campground & Picnic Area/Shelter nearby
  •  3 waterfalls (Juney Whank Falls, Toms Branch Falls & Indian Creek Falls) all located within a couple of miles of each other


The Local Scoop

The Deep Creek Trail is a popular trail in the Smokies. The creek is a large creek when compared to the average size of streams in the Smokies. Deep Creek is probably best known for tubing, swimming and trout fishing. This is a popular destination located just outside of Bryson City for cooling off in the summer months. If hiking is your pleasure, this trail makes for a relaxing stroll in early spring or fall.

The trail starts out as an old roadbed that runs along the creek practically it's entire distance. The trail crosses the creek multiple times as you work your way North and up stream. On the opposite end of the trail located 13.5 miles from the trailhead, you'll find yourself at U.S. Hwy-441 near Newfound Gap. Considering the fact that you would be at well over 5,000 feet of elevation at this point, the climb closer to the headwaters of Deep Creek becomes strenuous. Having said that, we suggest taking the lower trail in segments.  Or, just hike up the trail from the Bryson City trailhead for as long as you want then simply turning around. This is a peaceful hike along a nice wide trail which used to be a roadbed.  (You may also consider the Deep Creek Loop Trail located along the same trail) 
Fishing & Camping
There is a chance that you'll run into some horseback riders along the way since this is a shared trail. Horses are permitted all the way up to backcountry campsite #55. Once you get past the back end of the Deep Creek Loop Trail you'll be much more secluded (fourth bridge crossing). From here, you'll have just over 4 miles of trail that is uninterupted with any other trails. This is a nice section to fish in and you'll have 3 camping opportunities as well, #'s 60, 59 & 58.
Swimming & Tubing
If fishing isn't your thing, we suggest taking a towel and some river shoes because the cold, clean waters of Deep Creek will be calling your name!  The lower end of the Deep Creek Trail provides some excellent swimming holes.  Our favorite is located just after crossing the first bridge into your hike.  Once over the bridge, go approximately 75-100 feet to where the trail/old roadbed starts to climb uphill a little.  Look to the left and below the trail for rock outcroppings that make-up the creek bank.  You'll notice a long "still" run of water here and that's because it is deep.  If tubing, this makes for a nice place to pull your tube out and lay on the rocks for a while.  Enjoy all this area has to offer!

The Local Directions

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 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. Pick up the main trail just beyond the parking area and past the info kiosk up river.

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Difficulty Levels

  • Hike3What's this?
  • Bike2What's this?
  • Camp5What's this?
  • Fishing2/6What's this?
  • Waterfalls2What's this?
  • Horse2What's this?
35.46473, -83.43371
Hike Distance
Tubing put-in:  0.7 mile  
Loop Trail:  1.7 miles
Good fishing:  1.5 - 2 miles 
Entire Trail:  13.5 miles
Easy access via
West Deep Creek Road
Nearest City
Bryson City
Swain County
Distance From
Bryson City, 3.1 miles