Deep Creek Loop Trail: Tom Branch and Indian Creek Falls, Deep Creek Trailhead, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Deep Creek Loop Trail: Tom Branch and Indian Creek Falls - 4.4 Miles
Deep Creek Trailhead
Deep Creek Loop Trail: Tom Branch and Indian Creek Falls
|Round-Trip Length:||4.4 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||1,800' - 1,800'|
|Elevation Change:||moderate elevation gain during loop|
For park visitors who are short on time but want to see some of the Smokies' beautiful waterfalls, the Deep Creek Loop is a great option. This 4.4-mile lollipop loop trail showcases two waterfalls: Tom Branch Falls (also called Tom's Branch Falls) and Indian Creek Falls. The combination of a well-maintained trail and moderate elevation gain makes this hike accessible for people of many skill levels.
The trail begins at the Deep Creek trailhead. Park in the gravel parking lot and walk down the road about 200 hundred yards until you see a red gate and a small footpath. This is the Deep Creek trailhead and the beginning of the Deep Creek Trail. In general, this is a very popular trail so arrive early to secure a parking space.
At .2 miles, you will see Tom Branch Falls', a 60-80 foot cascading rocky waterfall. However, unless there has been a recent downpour, this waterfall is the less impressive of the two. Winter is the best season for viewing this waterfall as the water volume is much greater and the waterfall itself is not blocked by encroaching summer brush. There are also significantly fewer visitors to this trail in the winter.
Continue on the Deep Creek Trail for another .5 miles to the Indian Creek Falls Trail split. Turn right on the Indian Creek Trail and walk about 200 feet to another short side trail that will carry you down to Indian Creek Falls. This waterfall is striking. While only 30 feet in height, the volume of water that pours over the falls makes this one of the most scenic waterfalls in the entire Deep Creek area.
Backtrack to the Indian Creek Trail and continue north. At the 1.2-mile mark you will pass the Stone Pile Gap Trail intersection and shortly thereafter, the loop trail will split to the left. Turn left here to continue on the loop. There's a rise in elevation here as the trail switchbacks up a small drainage, passes by the Sunkota Ridge Trail Split at the 2-mile mark and then down again to the Deep Creek Trail. Turn left (south) onto the Deep Creek Trail and cross over the creek via a footbridge. At the 3.7-mile mark, you will hit the Indian Creek Trail split once again, but this time remain on the Deep Creek Trail for the final .7 miles back to the parking lot.
- Horses are also popular on this trail, so watch out for their large droppings.
- Bikes are allowed on the section from the parking lot to Indian Creek Falls.
The Deep Creek Loop Trail is located at the Deep Creek Trailhead.
Directions to Trailhead: Unlike most trails in the Smokies, this trailhead is located in Bryson City, NOT off 441 between Gatlinburg and Cherokee. Take exit 67 off of Hwy 23/74 to Bryson City. Turn right at the first stop light, and left onto Everett Street. Follow Everett Street North through Bryson City. Turn right on Depot Street, which is just across the railroad tracks, with the Train Depot on your right. At the stop sign, turn left then take the immediate curve to the right putting you on West Deep Creek Road. Follow West Deep Creek Road (you will pass into the park) until it dead ends into the Deep Creek parking lot in about 2 miles. This is a very popular area so if you get lost, ask a local to put you back on the right track.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park Headquarters
Oconaluftee Visitor Center (North Carolina side)
Sugarlands Visitor Center (Tennessee side)
Backcountry Office: Reservations and Information
865-436-1297 for Backcountry Volunteer Office
865-436-1231 for Backcountry Camping Reservations