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Porters Creek Trail is a 7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, horses, and backpacking and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Length 7.0 mi Elevation gain 1,512 ft Route type Out & Back
Kid friendly Backpacking Camping Hiking Horseback riding Forest River Views Waterfall Wild flowers Wildlife Bridge out Rocky No dogs
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Getting There

Note: As of July 2020, users have reported that the road to the trailhead has been closed due to damage about a mile from the start of the trail. Park staff is advising hikers to stay off this trail due to renovations and maintenance. 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.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park - 865-436-1200

Drive east on highway 321 from Gatlinburg. Turn right onto Greenbrier Road, until the road makes a "Y" at the bridge. Follow Porters Creek Road (gravel) to the trailhead.

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Reviews (636)
Photos (580)
Recordings (455)
Completed (1162)
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Kelly-Ann Quirion
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 24, 2020
HikingClosed

Update as of October 24, trail is closed

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Stephen Hammers
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 28, 2020
Hiking
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chris schultz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 27, 2020
HikingBridge outClosed

update as of August 27th, the trail is being worked on by park staff, they advised us along with others they would rather not have anyone on the trail at this time, so we chose a different trail. also the road is closed about a mile short of where the trail head is located.

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Jan Pippin
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 18, 2020
Hiking

The road is closed to get to this trail

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Erin Bacon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 18, 2020
Bridge outWashed out

main road to trailhead is washed out. one mile walk to the trailhead. Bridge is still out as of 6/18 over Porter's creek it is crossable if you don't kind getting wet, I would recommend entering the water behind the first large boulder on the far right.

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Belle L
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 12, 2020
HikingBridge out

The bridge over Porters Creek, located about 1.3 miles after the entrance, is washed out and I was unable to find a safe crossing. Thus, I back tracked about a half mile and visited an old settlers barn and home, which was great. I then hiked the Brushy Mountain trail for a few miles, which I really enjoyed, but it’s uphill.

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Damian Ozga
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 31, 2020
Bridge out

Bridge is out as of 5/31/2020 at 2 miles. 3 miles if you count the extra mile you have to hike where the road at the entrance to the trailhead is out. pictures attached.

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Doug Woodson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 26, 2020
HikingBridge out

I can verify the bridge is out. Was gonna take my 7 yo on first overnight hiking trip but came up a little short. In right conditions the creek can be crossed (which was confirmed by the group of four people standing on the other side stranded.). Apparently they had crossed the creek before a rain storm and returned to find a raging river. If you cross, be prepared to wait out the weather for possibly days. This is the only way In or out, to my knowledge.

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Collin Obremski
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 24, 2020
HikingBlowdownBridge outClosedOver grownWashed out

DA BREEEDGE IS OUUUTTT (said in Arnold voice). The Little Greenbriar access road is closed as well because there’s a huge hole in it. Quarantine has not been kind to this road and trail. So it’s an extra mile to the trailhead which is no bigs. The problem is that the bridge that goes over the treacherous river before getting to the falls is destroyed. There’s really no safe way to cross the water, so we were super disappointed. It looks like there was a huge flood that really tore things up. I’m sure the park service will get it fixed eventually, just sad we didn’t see the falls today while trying to avoid the crowds at the more popular trails.

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Ella Hoogenboezem
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 11, 2020
HikingClosed

Currently closed about a mile before the trailhead. Large portion of road damaged.

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John Posey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 22, 2020
Hiking

Very easy fun hike. We hiked Rocky Top/Thunderhead the day before, so this was perfect.

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betty betty burns
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 19, 2020

A photographer's paradise today. The. Fringed phacelia was in full bloom and looked like a fairy land. Located just beyond the footbridgrabout 1.5 miles and before Fern Falls.

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Christian Mechler
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HikingBlowdownMuddyRocky
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Megan Kaplan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 16, 2020
HikingBlowdownMuddyRocky

We had a great time hiking to the waterfall today! The trail was muddy and somewhat slippery. It’s quite rocky but smaller rocks and pretty easy for my three year old to travel. We carried him over the bridge. Wildflowers are just beginning to show. Lots of Fringed Phacelia and a few Dutchman’s Breeches. Lots of buds on Trilliums. It should look amazing soon! Lovely trail and we had a great time.

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Arlene Kennedy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 15, 2020
Hiking

Nice moderate trail. Went with my family including my 10 month old grandson. The river runs along the side of the trail making it a beautiful and scenic trail. Loved it!!

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Roy Liuzza
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 23, 2020
Hiking

This is a beautiful hike, and not too strenuous for families or beginners. The first mile is a gravel road, with the lively creek on one side and the remains of old settlements on the other. After a mile, and a short detour to Messer's barn, the trail continues (to the left, or you'll end up on Brushy Mountain), gets a bit rockier and heavily rooted, but continues along and across the creek (on what used to called the "Scary Bridge," but is not so bad really), past Fern Branch Falls, up to campsite 31. A few downed trees but nothing too serious. I hiked it in February, so there were no wildflowers, just mossy rocks and rhododendrons, but everyone says it's a beautiful hike for flowers.

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Sam Baldwin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 9, 2020
Hiking

one of the best hiking trails in the park. snaky but beautiful in the spring.

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Kayla Edwards
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 22, 2020
Hiking

Great trail - a perfect mix of historical sights, tumultuous & clear mountain creeks, and a unique waterfall. We’ve hiked it during the peak of spring wildflowers, as well as in the snow, and both of those hikes have been our favorites in the Smokies. Be warned, the road to the trailhead is poorly maintained and may give your small cars some trouble.

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David Safford
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 12, 2020
HikingBlowdownMuddy

BEAUTIFUL FOREST WALK. I chose to hike Porters Creek after an intense wind and rainstorm, so what I got was part trail, part stream! A rather gradual, peaceful hike tucked between Porters Mountain and Brushy Mountain, the trail is a picturesque uphill stroll along a river valley. Almost always within sight and sound of the singing Porters Creek, the trail gently ascends toward the Smokies divide until it terminates at Campsite #31. About 1.7 miles into the hike you'll encounter Fern Branch Falls. Usually this cascade is a silent, near-missable screen of white water running down a wall of distant rocks. But on the day I hiked, it was a roaring faucet that spilled down the gully over the trail. Note that there are many safe paths to the foot of the falls for great pictures. Beyond, the trail climbs alongside the creek through an Eden of old-growth forest. The river roars constantly along the remaining 2 miles. On my post-rainy day hike, parts of the trail were a creek as well, as water trickled down Porter Mountain toward the river below. Several blowdowns obstructed the paht, but those will likely be cleared by the end of April 2020 when the NPS performs annual trail maintenance. When the trail reaches Campsite #31, you'll be faced with either a quick hop over the water, or a mildly frustrating crossing, depending on recent rains. From here, an ancient manway continues up to the Sawteeth near Charlie's Bunion... but I have yet to tackle such a momunmental path. Maybe someday....

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