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Deep Creek Trail (How to See 3 Awesome Waterfalls in 1 Hike)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on April 29, 2024.

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Deep Creek Trail Bryson City sits inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is one of the most incredible places to go hiking in North Carolina. This trail that takes you by three waterfalls just a few miles north of Bryson City, one of our favorite mountain towns.

While Deep Creek Trail is popular in the summer for tubing and swimming, we think it’s one you can enjoy throughout much of the year. Many people agree with us and flock to this trail, especially during fall and on weekends.

If you’ve never been, our guide shares the route we recommend, along with some background info and more tips to help you enjoy Deep Creek Trail. We’ve organized this guide into the following sections:

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Leave NO Trace

As always, please remember to leave no trace. Our National Parks and outdoor spaces are so beautiful because those who came before you left these natural spaces as they found them.

Pack out any trash you bring, and leave it as you found it. With that said, grab a Deep Creek trail map and get ready for some awesome waterfalls!

Deep Creek Trail History

Interestingly enough, the Deep Creek Trailhead was one of the first constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. But you would have no idea because the trail is absolutely beautiful and so well-maintained.

Read More: Western North Carolina (and 100+ Wonderful Places to Visit)

Hiking Deep Creek Trail (Our Recommended Route)

Once you get to the Deep Creek Falls and Trail Parking Lot, you’ll notice that there are two Deep Creek hiking trails that you can take; a 2.4-mile trip or the Deep Creek-Indian Creek Loop which is 5 miles.

We recommend the 2.4-mile route and will be detailing that hike in this article.

Note: Bicycles are allowed on the Deep Creek Waterfall Loop or the Indian Creek Trails, but dogs and other pets are not.  

Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)

Toms Branch Falls

Tom Branch Falls Deep Creek Trail NC

From the parking area, it will only take you a short and easy quarter-mile to reach Toms Branch Falls. This waterfall is picturesque and very popular for watching tubers go by!

The trail to Toms Branch Falls is easy, with very little change in elevation. There are also plenty of benches around the falls for you to sit and enjoy the waterfall.

Read More: 20+ Kid-Friendly Waterfalls In NC (Easy Hikes And Swimming Holes!)

Indian Creek Falls

Indian Creek Falls Deep Creek Trail NC

Continue on the trail for 1/3 of a mile and you will find a 45-foot cascade known as Indian Creek Falls. This waterfall is slightly off the main trail.

Just look for Indian Creek Loop Trail on your right, and then turn left onto a spur trail to find this waterfall. From here, you can either backtrack for the 2.4-mile hike along Deep Creek or you can continue on this trail for the 5-mile loop.

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Juney Whank Falls

Juney Whank Falls Deep Creek Trail

If you decide to backtrack to the Deep Creek Trail, it won’t be long until you come upon Juney Whank Falls. Once you are back on the Deep Creek Trail, turn right onto the Horse Trail to find Juney Whank.

It is also very easy to reach this waterfall from the parking lot if you do not want to do the 2.4-mile loop.

Read More: 50+ Great Things to Do With Kids in Asheville (and Nearby!)

Deep Creek Trail Juney Whank Falls

The hike to Juney Whank from the lot is short but steep. With a change in elevation of 194 feet, you’ll need a break to catch your breath at the top.

Juney Whank is a 90-foot waterfall that flows over a rock face in front of a wooden bridge, creating a beautiful scene.

If you’re curious about the name, there are a couple of versions. One says to be named after a man known as Junaluska (Juney) Whank who might be buried nearby.

Conflicting reports state that Juney Whank is a Cherokee phrase meaning, “where the bear passes.”

We’ll let you decide which of these stories is true.

Read More: Museum of the Cherokee People (13,000 Years of History in One Important Space)

Things to Do Near Deep Creek Trail

Mingo Falls near Deep Creek Trail GSMNP
Mingo Falls.
  • If you are looking for more things to do nearby, head back down Deep Creek Road into downtown Bryson City for a meal or better yet, a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
  • One of the many highlights of that train ride is the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC). It’s possibly the best outdoor store in North Carolina, an amazing place to have a riverside meal, and an adventure park all in one space.
  • Mingo Falls and Soco Falls are a couple of the best waterfalls in North Carolina and are only a 30-minute drive away from Deep Creek Trail. Both are short hikes, too, which is why you could group all of these waterfalls together.

Read More: Gorgeous Waterfalls near Cherokee (Within 2 Hours)

Ready to Hike Deep Creek Loop Trail?

The Deep Creek Area is a big part of why GSMNP is one of the best national park sites in the US, not just in North Carolina. It is a very popular and easy place to hike, which means it can get very popular.

However, if you time it right by arriving early and even on a day when the weather isn’t cooperating, you’ll largely have this trail to yourself.

In case you’ve visited and regardless of how crowded you found Deep Creek Trail, we’d love to know what you thought of it. If you haven’t been yet, we’d love to know when you’re making your way out to this awesome trail.

Let us know in the comments section or by email and keep the conversation going! Don’t forget to share your Bryson City adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group.

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5 thoughts on “Deep Creek Trail (How to See 3 Awesome Waterfalls in 1 Hike)”

  1. Had a marvelous couple of hours trailing at Deep Creek, although I was very upset to see a family with a dog! Didn’t know how to report it to a park ranger so they could get caught and fined.

    Reply
  2. Sorry for the dumb question, but if you follow your suggested route….after the third waterfall, does the trail loop back to its original starting point?

    Reply
    • Yes! It is one big loop- or you can turn around after the second waterfall and go to Juney Whank from the parking lot.

      Reply
    • Hi! You can use either the longer loop or go from the parking lot. The trail from the parking lot is steep but not unmanagable! It’s much shorter than if you do the loop.

      Reply

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