Porters Creek Trail is a 7.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, TN that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.
Wooded hike along Porters Creek, old cemetery, historic farm site, waterfall The drive to the trailhead is nearly as nice as the hike. Once at the trailhead you will begin up a gradual incline along a wide gravel path. The trail is in a heavily wooded area, with Porters Creek on your left. This hike provides a cool respite on even the hottest of days. At about the 0.6 mile point, there is a series of rock walls and old building foundations from an old settlement. At the 0.75 mile point, is the old cemetery. Take the time to pay your respects to these early settlers. The gravel pathway continues to the 1.0 mile point, where a short spur trail leads to the Historic Farm Site. You will find John Messer's cantilevered barn built in 1875. Past the barn is the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club Cabin, built in 1934-36. The gravel path ends here. To continue on to the waterfall, take the left trail along Porters Creek. This well marked trail continues its gradual ascent for an additional 1 mile to the base of the waterfall.
A slow steady incline - very rocky underfoot. Some small falls and we saw a deer. 3 1/2 hours hiking time to the end and back. Nice stone wall and little cemetery right as you begin the hike.
It's 5 miles round trip to falls and back unfortunately this year has been very dry skin the falls were only a trickle and missed by several before us. One think you need to be aware of is Messers lodge is on the right when you come to the first intersection. The sign should be at that intersection but it's not, and since you know the trail to the falls hugs the stream it's easy to not go around the loop causing you to miss the best thing in this hike. Things we saw, the stone wall, lodge footprint, cemetery, rusty car, barn, cabin, awesome stream with some depth, foot bride, deer, squirrels, salamanders, crawfish, and very few people. It was a perfect hike on a Monday morning, only encountered 15 people and had so many beautiful sights.
One of my very favorite places in the Smokies. I hiked this trail in late May, and there seemed to be a surprise around every turn. Stone steps leading to a beautiful old cemetery, the old barn and cabins, the rushing creek, the charming footbridges, capped off by stunning Fern Branch Falls. My children aged 6 and 11 were exhausted at the end of this trail, and traversing the second footbridge with a very independent (but exhausted) six-year-old is a bit stressful, but we made it work. The end result was an unforgettable experience!
The climb to the falls is a bit much for little ones, but for experienced hikers, it's an easy walk with stunning scenery and loads of history. I wish I lived closer, but I will certainly be back to hike this again.
Very nice. Wasn't too hot. Water was great!
Hiked this trail on a very humid day. The waterfall was nice and unexpected. We did hike to the campsite but wouldn't do it again. Turn around at the falls. Lots of big trees and greenery.
I really enjoyed it. I forgot to turn on Alltrails until I turned around! We saw deer and lots of butterflies. The cemetery was very sad as it looked like mostly babies and maybe young mothers. Would hike again! Be careful of potholes and narrow lanes when driving in on the access road.
Easy grade. Water fall is 500 yds past second log bridge on left as you cross small trail creek. Ideal hike for families with children 6+. Rocky and rooty once you leave gravel half way. Lots of deer. Beautiful hike.
*No facilities at the trail head. They are available at both large picnic spots, before you reach the parking area*
Loved hiking this trail. The history is amazing, and the cemetery is beautiful, but very sad, when you look at the dates. Many are babies/children, anywhere from hours to 2 years old. Times were very harsh, back then.
Once you get back onto Porters trail, after visiting the old barn and cabin, the trail starts to become much more tree rooted and rocky. The creek and cascades were amazing....loved getting to sit on the long, high foot bridge to take some photos, before anyone else got there.
The Fern Branch Falls...if you're not looking, you may miss it. WAY up on the hill side, proceeded by many, many rocks and boulders. I couldn't resist climbing up there to get a closer look. I planned on hiking all the way to campsite 31, but as of this date, a recently downed tree blocked the path, and I couldn't quite navigate around/through it to continue on. I will be back to make it all the way to the end, because I've heard that the view of the upper AT, and the huge trees are gorgeous.
The only wildlife I saw were tons of butterflies, and 4 wild turkeys....1 momma and 3 youngsters that crossed the trail in front of me.
not sure if we found the Falls. at a little over 2 miles, there's a rather high bridge across the creek. just after on the left is a nice place to stop and enjoy the large cascades. gets steep and rocky and steep after that. turned around in less than a half mile. other family said we turned around 20 yds before the Falls. cant imagine a Falls being where they described unless a smaller creek drops off the hillside. good for uoung kids up til after the "scary bridge" my kids called it. but they did it well!
We hiked it with our 2 boys 7 and 10 and they loved it! Especially the rocks all over the place. It was nice hiking next to the river and the longer bridge was really exciting for them. We made it to the waterfall before turning around. Not many people on the trail. We ran into 1 family on the way up and a couple of families on the way back. Weather was perfect! Really a nice hike.
Very nice trail. Great first section for families with the barn and other buildings. Cemetery is sad. Pay your respects to the people who lived and died in these hills. Going further is good to the falls. Bridge is great. About 8 tenths past the falls is a good cascade to the right. Not much past that. Trail is a steady uphill grind.
My wife & I had quite the adventure with this trail. For the first mile, we saw lots of butterflies along the gravel trail, then as we split off the gravel trail and went towards campsite 31, we enjoyed following the river. Only a couple times did we get a few raindrops. But when we got to the campsite, the torrential downpours began. Fortunately we packed our Eno rain tarp, and quickly set it up to wait out the rain. Eventually we had to make the return trip to the car since we were not planning to camp. Had to be extra careful with the many roots and rocks in the trail because they were extra slippery. Plan on a gradual uphill hike going out, and downhill coming back. It wasn't steep, so very enjoyable for all skill levels.
We hiked a portion of this trail with our kids, and everyone enjoyed it. The drive into the Greenbrier area is beautiful itself with all the views of the river, and the trail also follows the water most of the way. The farm and shelter were a good middle point for us to grab a snack, and the log bridge was a fun challenge for the kids. The falls were also nice - different than most I've see - and a good turning point. The fact that it's uphill in and downhill out made the 4 miles doable for our children. We also saw more wildlife on this trail than most others - a wild turkey by the barn, a black snake on the trail, and many butterflies. Check out the link to Hiking in the Smokies for a nice trail description.
Good hike, the old barn and cabin makes this well worth seeing. The waterfall was very nice.