Last Updated on October 27, 2022
Last Updated on October 27, 2022
Deep Creek Trail 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 sits 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:
- Leave No Trace Reminder
- Deep Creek Trail History
- Hiking Deep Creek Trail (Our Recommended Route)
- Tom Branch Falls
- Indian Creek Falls
- Juney Whank Falls
- Things to Do Near Deep Creek Trail
- More Hiking in North Carolina (Travel Guides)
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.
Deep Creek Trail History
Interestingly enough, the Deep Creek Trail 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.
Hiking Deep Creek Trail (Our Recommended Route)
There are two routes 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 and Indian Creek Trails, but dogs and other pets are not.
Tom Branch Falls
From the parking area, it will only take you a short and easy quarter-mile to reach Tom Branch Falls. This waterfall is picturesque and very popular for watching tubers go by!
The trail to Tom 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.
Indian Creek Falls
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 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.
Juney Whank Falls
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.
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.
Things to Do Near Deep Creek Trail
- If you are looking for more things to do nearby, head 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.
Ready to Hike Deep Creek Trail?
Deep Creek Trail 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.