Mount Sterling Overnight Loop Trail is a 16.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Clyde, NC that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.
Did this loop as an overnight hike. Hiked out Big Creek trail to start. This is a very pretty and tranquil hike next to the creek for 5 miles. Relatively easy too. We saw several clusters of butterflies, which was really neat! The next 5 miles of the trail is a relentless 3000' climb up Swallow Fork. Worth it once you get to the top as the views from the fire tower are amazing. We even got to see the beauty of the "smoky" mountains in the morning. The last part of the hike was straight down the mountain on Baxter Creek. This was a semi-boring hike as there isn't much to see except a few water crossing toward the bottom of the mountain. Also, as someone else mentioned, it's hard on the knees going down. Overall, a great hike and would highly recommend to everyone. Great first hike during our first trip to the Smoky Mountains!
I did this overnight loop solo starting at Baxter Creek Trail. I then hiked up to summit Mt. Sterling. I took a break at the top and ate a snack and checked out the fire tower. You will have to brave the old fire tower to get some good views. I then continued on Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail, and then cut over Swallow Fork Trail to meet up with Big Creek Trail. Once at Big Creek the plan after about 11.5 miles was to camp at backcountry site 36 (37 was full). However I missed the turn and continued on Big Creek Trail to continue on the loop. I kinda had a feeling I missed it because I was getting pretty tired, so I ended up pitching camp near the walking bridge on Big Creek by the creek. This was about 14.5 miles or 2 miles up the Big Creek trail from the parking lot. So, the next morning I only had 2 miles to go. I brought a 35 liter pack with good gear and it was a wonderful solo hike.
THIS LOOP IS NOT LOCATED IN CLYDE, NC! It is in Waynesville, NC beginning at Big Creek Campground. Completed this 17.1 trek in one day. Not sure why someone thought this was a one star trail (other than looking in the wrong location for it) but they are wrong. This is listed as a moderate hike, for a two day overnight possibly, but it is a difficult one day hike. The loop consisted of Big Creek to Swallow Fork to Baxter Creek. Total mileage 17.1 miles. The downhill from Mount Sterling fire tower is steep, tough on the knees. So your decision becomes up the steep trail or down it. We chose down. It was a tough but wonderful nine hour day.
5 mile hike straight up a mountain with camping at the firepower then an 11 mile downhill with a relaxing finish at midnight hole swimming hole. Great hike!