Explore the most popular trail running trails near Bryson City with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I was wildly unimpressed with this trail. For starters there is a bus in the parking lot, ( which is way down a gravel road) The bus has people and dogs sleeping in it, and some of the dogs run out to “greet you” (bark aggressively). Once I made it past that the trail starts nice enough. Wide, rushing creek waters. It progressively goes downhill. The last mile or so the trail has several downed trees that for a short person were difficult to cross, and then it is SO narrow and SO overgrown, you cannot see where the trail is! Both my dog and I slipped off the side several times. Now, not only is the trail super overgrown with grass and other plants, but many of these plants have briars. My legs look like I had a fight with a wildcat. At some point in the overgrowth my dog stepped on a small snake- it slithered off, thank goodness, but by that point I told myself it we aren’t .25 or less from the top, we are turning around. We made it to the top and the views are fine. There is a shelter there too. I would have continued on one way or the other but the trail there was overgrown too. We hustled down. I was done. Overall this is really an easy trail as far an ascent. It is never so steep that I was out of breath. A very gradual climb. Honestly, Unless you hear of someone coming in with a weed whacker, I’d skip it.

First off, this is a great hike. The view at Lonesome Pine Overlook is amazing. The hike to the overlook is decent, mostly forest with a small creek running down the mountain midway through the hike. The 3 rating is mostly because there are so many great hikes in the area, I probably wouldn’t do this one again until I had done a few others in the area first.

The trail is moderately difficult and took me and my husband a little over 3 hours from the trailhead to the overlook and back. About a half mile in we saw a baby black bear in the distance then about a half mile from the overlook my husband locked eyes with an adult black bear on the trail about 50 yards away. In the few seconds that we saw the bear, my husband promptly messed his pants before the bear ran off. I then got to listen to my husband yelling, “You get out of here, bear!!!” at varying intervals for the remainder of the hike.

When we got to the overlook, the view was incredible and definitely worth the hike. My husband messed himself again at the sight and sounds of what we think was a timber rattlesnake near a rock just off the trail.

We were the only two on the trail on the way to the overlook, then passed 4 hikers on our way back down the trail to the trailhead. Overall, this was a great hike.

Disclaimer: my husband is the author of this post.

Did this trail six days ago and we decided to turn around close to mile 3 because the trail was so over grown with slippery run offs due to the recent rains. It is a nice forest hike and the dogs enjoyed the portion we did with plenty of of water along the way. A few days later we hiked to the Wesser fire tower via the App trail to take in the view.

Okay, lets first start by saying there are a number of inconsistencies in the tags and descriptions on this listing. First off, hopefully no one believes that all 14.9 miles is wheelchair accessible. That said, the last 1/4mile or so up the observation tower is probably wheelchair accessible. Also, it's worth noting that if you drive up to the visitor's center and then walk the 1/2mile to the top (separate listing on this site), there is a sign that says it's NOT ADA compliant (due to steepness), so keep that in mind. It's a hard go even when you're not pushing a wheelchair up it!

Secondly, it states it features a river, but I guess they're just referencing the river that the road follows on your drive into GSMNP from Cherokee, NC. There is no river feature on the actual trail.

As for the trail itself, it's a pretty typical S. Appalachian trail...navigating rocks and roots are all part of the game. Well-marked and easy to navigate. If you're day-hiking this one, I suggest cutting off 3.4miles (RT) by starting at the Indian Gap Road/Road Prong Trail Trailhead. You'll miss the Beech Tree Extainment area, which is really just a fenced area with some pretty trees, and some superfluous up-and-down hills. Which, by the way are not really that bad as other users suggest. It gives your knees and legs a break from doing the SAME thing for 8 miles up and then a DIFFERENT thing for 8 miles down.

Great hike!! We hiked to lonesome pine overlook and back. Definitely a steady and tough incline the entire 3.3 miles up to the overlook. This was my first hike in the mountains, however my girlfriend with more hiking experience thought it was equally as challenging. Two small waterfalls along the way. The last 0.75 mile of the ascent to the overlook had several small openings in the trees with great views. An awesome preview for the beautiful views of the valley from the top of the overlook. We did see a black bear on the trail during our descent about 30 yards ahead of us. He was as curious as I was but after discovering my girlfriend had to retire her britches, I made noise and he went on his way. If you’re in the deep creek area looking for a tougher hike, this trail is perfect. It took us about 3.5-4 hours with all pictures and black bear interaction included.

I would recommend this as a shuttle hike or key swap. Even our seasoned hikers did not like all the steep climbs. Despite being just 8 miles one way, this is a moderate hike. Lovely thick forest floor and fun to meet some AT thru hikers.
If you have bad knees, you will need your hiking poles and compression wraps.

3 months ago

Really, really enjoyed this trail. It is a very consistent incline for the entirety of the way up the mountain. You do cross a few felled trees and various streams but all were easy to navigate. The trail had some great forest views-- it was extremely peaceful and we met only one other person on the trail. The trail itself is extremely narrow for the vast majority of the hike, only about 1 foot wide. The trail does criss cross along the side of the mountain so I would be mindful if you have a fear of heights or narrow walkways. Otherwise, it was fantastic!

3 months ago

I did this hike 3/31/18 and trail was clear of any remaining blowdowns. Great view as always from the tower. My dogs LOVE this trail because it follows the creek for a good bit of the way so they can get a drink whenever they need to.

Clingman's dome winter hike has been a long awaited bucket list hike and it was certainly a challenge. The trail resembled a frozen creek bed. Ice was extensive and thick through nearly every step. I brought poles but did not bring crampons. The path gives way to the ridge line and the inclines are steep and are all the more slow and treacherous covered in ice. There are no views on the AT until you reach the dome which was surprising since the bare trees didn't reveal more of the surrounding area. However, having the dome all to myself made it completely worth the trouble. I shouted into the wind in triumph on the highest point in the park with blissful solitude. Taking Dome Rd back to NFG due to time constraints, I was treated to more views of the North Carolina mountains.

If you are interested in this unique winter hike poles and crampons are highly recommended. Be sure to call park services for information regarding road closures. There was no information on the website that NFG rd was closed and fortunately opened late at 11:00am. This is a long hike and daylight was a concern because of the late start.

The trail is easy to walk which is a good thing as the creeks had my attention most of the time. These creeks in early January had a lot of snow/ice in them.
I will be back when the leaves are out!

Great hike! Can have a little difficult climb with some narrow trails at times but you are surrounded totally by nature the whole way up! The view was awesome, well worth it.
When you get to the shelter stay left instead of walking straight to the camping area and that path will take you all the way up!

strong hike up to lonesome pine, after that fairly easy. I ended up looping back down pole rd creek to deep creek and camping at 60 due to a hip injury.

not much too see after lonesome pine until you reach deep creek. beautiful and wide river hike all the way back down.

Take bear spray with you. I was about 2 miles into the Sunkota Ridge Trail from where it begins when you do it counterclockwise from Deep Creek when I hear loud rustling, look up, and see a momma black bear charging me from 50 yards away with two cubs following behind. I stopped, she stopped, we stared at each other for a little bit and I backed away slowly and went back the way I came. So much for the reviews on here that say there was no wildlife to see. Ten minutes later I heard some more rustling, soiled my pants again, and then saw two deer feet away from the trail.

Hiked from NFG overlook to the Dome. Tuff 15 miler. I’ve hiked all 6 ways to get up to Mt LeConte and i think it’s harder. This part of the AT doesn’t have a lot of wide switch backs like the LeConte trails. So even though the elevation change and length mite b less the way is harder. Plus it’s not just up. Many places u lose the elevation gain by plunging down a Ridge and then fight ur way back up. So.........even going back down u have challenging ups. But the beauty is well worth it. Mayb not many vistas but as one reviewer stated, it a magical forest.

Great workout!! Gets steep at about 7 miles out and you keep going up for about 2 miles. But then you get a very cool payoff by following the ridgetop for about a mile of the descent. Beautiful foliage this time of year (end of October) and still managed to get flurries for about 1/3 of the hike! I was glad we downloaded the map because there were a couple times that we were a little confused when reading the signs and would have gone in the wrong direction. Beautiful falls at the end of the hike, which was a pleasant surprise! It took us about 5.5 hours and we are active adults (run, cycle almost daily).

Awesome hike! It took me about 2 hours of steady uphill to get to the junction with the AT. Then turn left to get to the tower and hike another 30-40 mins. Round trip was about 4.5 hours a including 30 min break at the top. Beautiful views, but like others said there were some downed trees to climb over.

I almost didn't do this hike because another commenter said the distance of 6.6 was not accurate. I disagree. Don't let that comment discourage you.

Pretty consistent incline for the first 3 miles or so but the views from the Lonesome Pine Overlook at the top is definitely worth it! My husband and I turned around once we reached the top but definitely worth the climb. Absolutely beautiful

9 months ago

It's a steady climb the whole way up to Lonesome Pine Lookout. Not much to see until after about 2.5 miles up. I turned around at the Lookout and came back down. Great views, quiet and little to no traffic.

I enjoyed this trail! It was dynamic in that both sides of the ridge had different vibes along the trail. The trail follows water a lot, which is nice. I do wish there were more open views/overlooks but the views on the trail are still pretty. Can be steep at times but mostly not too bad or gradual inclines. It's not marked very well though. We went backwards (according to how the app shows) and off trail, going a way that seemed obviously correct, but it wasn't. It did, however hook back up with the regular trail at the top without too much extra hiking.

10 months ago

Nice uphill climb but vegetation obscured the narrow single-track at times making footing iffy. Waterfalls on the way up we're nice and the view from the observation platform was stunning!

Very primitive trail. Be prepared to climb over and under downed trees, walk through streams, walk narrow (slippery at time) trails, and it's all uphill. Definitely a pretty difficult but awesome hike. Great views at the end.

Dont let this trail fool ya! Went down from Clingmans to NFG.. 9 miles. Up and down the whole way.. not easy!! But you can do it!

Wow am I tired. The serenity of this hike will stay with me a long time. Hard hike for a couple reasons, the terrain was rocky and rooty so you had to take your time, and the elevation changes were challenging and constant. It was so cool because it was like being in an enchanted forest that was there for you alone. MUST HIKE THIS TRAIL.

trail running
Thursday, July 06, 2017

Pretty challenging but rewarding run. Not for new runners or the light hearted. Be ready for really narrow, steep switchbacks and fallen trees over the trails. Cool vistas approaching the top and at the top. The trail is marked clearly with blue blazes. Parking area is just past the "state maintained road end" sign. Took me about 40 minutes to get up and the same to go down. I think I may have stopped just short of the fire tower where white blazes appeared.

scenic driving
Thursday, July 06, 2017


Friday, June 23, 2017

absolutely beautiful trail! Very narrow trail and fairly steep switch backs so would not recommend for a young inexperienced hiker. the view at the top (fire tower) was stunning! highly recommend this trail for a day hike. took roughly 2 hours to summit at a slow to moderate pace. lastly the lesser creek trail is marked by blue blazes and end and pick up the white AT blazes. stay to the left to summit.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The trail was hard, especially the decent from Cliingmans Dome. Not many views, heavy canopy most of the trip. Definitely a good trip to gauge whether a person is ready to hike the AT!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The trail was a little washed out and beat up from the horses and I had to dodge a little horse poop along the way, but overall a great hike! I hiked solo and never saw another person on the trail. It was nice and quiet and not too bad footing.

Friday, June 02, 2017

My husband and I hiked this trail yesterday and it is absolutely beautiful, both in the beginning when it follows the creek up the gorge, and at the end when it starts switch-backing up to the view. There is a minor amount of fire damage, but the trail is still quite passable. The grade is constant, but never extreme, although the trail does earn its difficult rating. I believe that the 5.8 mile round trip is just to where Wesser Creek Trail meets the new A.T... It took us about 1.5 hrs to get to this juncture, and we were moving quickly and steadily. Then it is another mile or maybe 1.5 miles to get to the fire tower. We did the whole hike in just over 3.5 hours, with a stop at the top, and moving pretty quickly otherwise. I would say prepare for more than 6 miles, but the view is sensational and well worth the effort!

It was a fairly good hike, but there's not much to see, except Clingman's Dome.

Load More