Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Cherokee National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

seemed like a great trail, but only got to go a quarter mile in due to hiwassee flooding the trail making it unsafe. Will definitely try again soon.

This hike was beautiful but a little tougher than I planned on. Also mileage I recorded was 13.5, every .5 mile counts. Beautiful at the summit.

awesome falls, one of the most popular trails in the area. Few primitive campsites by the river (not the falls) lot is small and always full. approx 5.5 miles round trip from 321, app 175 steps from Dennis cove.

It was a beautiful waterfall and fairly easy hike but the rock stairs going down to the waterfall and coming back up were really rough. It was a very strenuous hike back up. I would not recommend bringing your dog. My greyhound struggled, even with her long legs.

Very nice trail with the creek, rock walls and rhododendrons-lots of natural beauty to enjoy. Now once you get to the rock stairs the fun is over! Difficult going down and definitely coming back up! I’m not in the best shape right now after a very long winter but even in shape I think it would be difficult. That being said, I still think it was so worth it! We’ve had rain so the falls had a lot of water flowing over the rocks. Absolutely beautiful!

hiking
2 months ago

Wow, rough hike. Steep descent on the climb to the river. At the river it's easy to get on the wrong trail. There are places with no trail that you hike in the creek. When you cross Davis creek there are two blue blazes on a tree. FOLLOW THE PATH TO THE LEFT. This trail is tough to follow. Lots of blow downs. Overgrowth makes you question if you are on the trail at all. Just stay by the creek. NUMEROUS creek crossings. Trail goes right to the falls if you are on the right path. Watch your GPS closely to make sure you don't get off trail. on't forget steep descent on the hike in means steep ASCENT on the hike out. Falls are nice but not spectacular. Margarette Falls down the road is much better.

My 18month old daughter and I mastered this trail today. It was such a beautiful day. It was a little confusing starting out, but once we found the trail it was a piece of cake. Pay attention to the trail markers... we missed the waterfalls by a mile because we were following the blue markers. Follow the white markers. It will lead you down about 250 stone stairs right to the waterfall! If you’re backpacking (like I was with our baby carrier) it’s HELL getting back up! All in all it was a beautiful hike and I am so happy we did this.

Awesome trail especially if you like venturing off trail.

Fun overnight hike but could be done in a day.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful views

Did it today within 2 hours to the summit. Short, not really scenic but steadily steep so it's good training. On top is a lookout tower.

we hiked from Childers Creek to beyond Big Bend area for a total of 7 miles. Very nice hike. Good trail. A little wet in a few spots but nothing we couldn't get around. We will do this trail again.

As hard as it gets in Great Smoky Mountains NP. Backpacked this area over the course of 4 days in the winter time. Hike from trailhead to Mt. Sterling is a leg burner, with 4,000 feet of elevation change and nothing but uphill climbs the entire way. Finished in six hours, and got down in 3 hours at the end of trip. For best views, check out the fire tower.

hiking
4 months ago

Had a falcon guide I used to find this waterfall. After asking a couple of locals, one lived over the ridge from the trail, I had no leads on the location. It took me two attempts before finding it. The key turn I missed was when I crossed the creek for the third time I didn't turn left and follow the trail upstream. It was 19 degrees out with snow and ice and after hitting 2.5 miles I turned around. Noticed that was the route to go and followed it. Stopped and went back because I had gotten too wet on the hike to justify any reason to continue. When I got back I loaded up my map and compared it to the map in the falcon guide book. I stopped .2 miles from the falls when I called it quits on 1/ 13/18.

On 1/27/18 I went back and seeing two American Bald Eagles on the drive up had me excited for the hike. I found Marys Falls this time in warmer conditions. It was a great treat to have found. I'm sure summer months will involve much more bush whacking that I dealt with.

Beautiful hike through the laurels and the falls are worth the many steps.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful rugged trail with sprawling winter views. The parking area gate to the summit of Big Frog Mountain is 4.4 miles with 2,500 ft of elevation gain. If you do this hike on a cold-ish winter day, do not underestimate how cold and windy it will be on the ridgeline. There's a lot of downed trees and overgrowth but it's worth it.

The trail up to the AT shelter was approximately 4 miles. Our group was three relatively fit adults (20-23), but adult life has taken its toll it seems because it was one of the more grueling hikes we've done in recent memory. Another nearby hike we do regularly is Margarette Falls, but I'd question classifying that as an intermediate trail, whereas I'd rate this one more like intermediate+ to the low-end of difficult.

It was rocky in the beginning segments, and after the first bridge crossing its relatively leisurely, but after the 2nd or 3rd bridge it's straight uphill the rest of the way. At least 2 miles are straight up the side of the mountain. It's beautiful, for sure, even now in the early part of winter.

If you're an experienced hiker, or confident in your level of fitness I wholeheartedly recommend it. It's a fun and pretty trail with variable terrain and isn't *very* heavily traveled, but there were some nice older ladies who put us to shame when we went. We felt like we were dying on the final leg up to the shelter.

I guarantee I will be very sore tomorrow.

Brought our dogs here for the first time since it stated dog friendly. However the trail isn’t dog friendly and it has a sign that has no dogs allowed on trail where it states the trail rules. The picnic area is very nice though!
Overall the hike was pretty hard. Steady incline the whole time and lots of slippery places so they are completely right when saying experienced hikers only! Scenery is beautiful with many creeks and points to lookout onto the scenery.
Would rate 5 stars if it correctly stated that dogs weren’t allowed on here :)

This is not an easy hike! You start out crossing a wide creek more than ankle deep. Once you find the trail marker on the left, I would recommend going right and following the yellow blazes so it isn't as steep. When you get to the next metal marker with the name on it, veer to the left to stay on Jennings trail. There are a ton of deep Creek crossings, deep brush, narrow pathways, 2 big trees have fallen and block the path. Use this app to help guide you. I had a signal with Verizon which helped get me out. I took my husky but I wouldn't recommend it for any pets, it's not well maintained and extremely rough and dense in a lot of places. I won't hike it again and I'm an avid hiker!

We did this one with a bit of a break on our poor knees. We started at Mt. Sterling Gap. That make the hike up less than the 6 miles. I think it was about 3 and that was enough. Great up there. Go to the roof of the fire tower, weather permitting. We had our breakfast up there. Beautiful.

Beautiful trail and fairly easy though sometimes a bit unmanaged.

This trail is much easier than the other trail going to Laurel Falls. There's lots of steps near the falls but otherwise after that not much elevation change. This will be a great hike for anyone wanting to take a short hike.

Easliy one of my favorite hikes! Beautiful views along the way! This trail has some level spots but overall I'd rate it moderate, difficult in spots due to rocky areas, stairs and inclines.

Nice trail. I've hiked to the falls both ways. Take this trail if you don't have a lot of time, but want to see a nice waterfall.

Beautiful falls! Nice, moderate walk until the stone stairs down, but worth it. My dog loved it! I walked past the falls but couldn't find the loop trail, so ended up going back the way I came. Bring extra water, hiking poles, and take breaks climbing back up the steps.

A beautiful hike along the river. The steps are pretty strait down about 450 ish feet. But definitely worth the hike. Beautiful waterfall.

Situated in the Old Forge recreation area, this trail is easily accessible and great for a day of lounging. There are plenty places to dip your feet and wade in the first half mile. After that, the trails become pretty dense. About halfway through once you're on top of the mountain the trail becomes extremely narrow. Wear pants, there are briars. It's pretty strenuous once you start to move up and away from the water so be prepared. The breathtaking mountain views are totally worth it. It is not moderately traveled.

I did the big creek-baxter creek loop over 2 nights and 3 days back in March 2001. It was warm and sunny at the start of the trip but there was 2' of snow at the top of Mt. Sterling and our thermometer read 13 degrees. Very demanding hike and the winds were incredible at the top. The fire tower is a must. I've always wanted to go back during warmer months. Saw very few people on the trails. Would only recommend for those in good shape.

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