Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fork Ridge and Deep Creek Trails

Today was another big hiking day with the ladies.  We’ve added two more friends from Nashville to our group.  That made 6 of us including Gene for our hike today.

Before I get into that, I want to thank Rick for helping me fix my comment issue.  He suggested I download a newer version of my browser.  I wasn’t able to download the latest and greatest.  I guess my computer is too old to support that, but I got a newer version than the one I had and that solved the problem.  Thanks, Rick.

For our hike today, we planned to hike down Fork Ridge Trail and up Deep Creek Trail.  The Deep Creek trailhead is about 1.5 miles past Newfound Gap on Newfound Gap Road.  Since we would end our hike here, we drove there first to leave a car in that parking lot.  We all piled into one car and drove back up to Clingman’s Dome Road to the Fork Ridge trailhead.

Gene and I had hiked Fork Ridge down to Deep Creek and back up earlier in the summer.  It was beginning to be overgrown then.  Today, it was almost impassable in some areas.  There were also several blow-downs from the storm last week.  It was slow going in places, especially where the blackberry bushes seemed to almost swallow us. I’ve got about a zillion little scratches all over my arms.  Stinging nettle was also at its summer peak.

Heading down Fork Ridge Trail
Fork Ridge Trail starts high in the spruce-fir forest and descends about 2700 feet to Deep Creek where it ends at the Deep Creek Trail.  The footbridge over Deep Creek washed out several years ago and according to the trail guidebook, the Park service is not planning to replace it.  Did I mention we’ve had about 4 inches of rain this week?  Deep Creek was flowing mightily.  We all got across safely in our water shoes.  We certainly didn’t want wet boots for the rest of the hike.

Garnett was the first to head across.
Gloria Dale is ready with matching crocs and poncho

The water was cold and that first step was such a shock.  After that initial shock the crossing wasn’t that bad even though the water was knee deep.  Footing was good and the rocks on the bottom weren’t very slippery.  I wouldn’t want to try crossing without trekking poles, though.

There had been a few sprinkles just before we started our crossing.  When the sun came out, Deep Creek was quite beautiful with the mist rising in the sunshine.

The first drop of rain and Sue just about disappeared under her poncho
Once on the other side, we dried our feet and donned our boots again.  Deep Creek Trail is a total of 14 miles in length from Newfound Gap Road all the way to Deep Creek Campground.  It’s a very popular trail for fishermen and there are several backcountry campsites along the length of the trial.

Starting our trek up Deep Creek Trail
We turned uphill and followed Deep Creek almost to Newfound Gap Road.  This trail was overgrown with summer vegetation as well, but not nearly so badly as Fork Ridge.  This 4-mile section of trail only gains about 1500 feet, so the climb was pretty gentle.  We made our way steadily along and were very glad to see the car where we left it early this morning.

We had been hearing thunder for about the last hour of our hike.  You can imagine how happy we were that we got to the car about 5 minutes before the downpour began.  We were again a cozy little group (but not fresh as daisies) crammed into one car as we drove back over to Fork Ridge trailhead to pick up the other car.

Gene got to tag along today, but we’re leaving him behind the rest of the week.  The five of us ladies are going over to Deep Creek Campground at the Bryson City entrance to the park on the North Carolina side for a car camping/hiking extravaganza.  I’m coming home late Friday night, so you won’t be hearing from me until then.

So, have a good week and thanks for tagging along.


  1. nice day for a ladies hike!!..and you got your feet wet too! the blue poncho shot!

  2. From the looks of Gene, the water sure was cold. Sounds like a great hike and a good one for the rest of the week with the ladies. Take care and enjoy the hike!

  3. Thanks for the shout-out!

    That stream water sure looked cold. Looked like fun though - at least from the comfort of my computer room.

  4. Looks like everyone had a great time! Glad you missed the downpour. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I did the upper 3.5 miles of Rough Fork trail yesterday (out and back). We were resting at the junction with Caldwell Fork (brought back nice memories!!) and a beautiful female doe came meandering up the trail as if she didn't have a care in the world. She eyed us for a few minutes, twitched her ears and then slowly turned around and went back the way she had come. Cool moment!! (Glad your comments are fixed!)

  6. You guys are hard-core! I'm a lazy hiker at the moment but hope to get better at it with age. I'm very jealous you're in the Smokies. I still haven't gotten my RV out of the desert...someday!