2020-09-22 – Deep Creek-Bryson City

Dateline:  September 22, 2020

The three “Phototeers” took a trip to the North Carolina side of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  Although, not the best of days to shoot waterfalls, we did manage to get a few keepers shots.  The hike to the falls was fairly easy and well worth the effort to reach them.  If you never been to see the three waterfalls, you have really missed a fantastic view..

{Source: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC Waterfalls}
The Deep Creek area of the Smokies is located near Bryson City, NC, and is a beautiful area of the park. It's home to 3 waterfalls - Juney Whank, Tom Branch, and Indian Creek Falls. All 3 are family-friendly and are easy to moderate hikes. This area is very popular for tubing and gets very busy during the warmer months, so get here early. It's a 10-mile drive from Cherokee if you are looking for waterfalls in that general area.

Directions: From the intersection of Highways 441 and 19 in Cherokee, drive 10 miles south on 19 to Everett St. in Bryson City. Turn right onto Everett St and drive for 0.2 miles, then turn right on to Depot Street. After a short distance turn left onto Ramseur Street, and then make an immediate right onto Deep Creek Road. Drive another 2.3 miles to the park entrance, and then another 0.5 miles to the parking lot for the Deep Creek trailhead. Just before the park entrance, you'll pass private businesses that rent tubes and sell ice, firewood, etc. If you are coming from Hwy 74, you can take Exit 67 which is the Bryson City exit, follow the signs into town, then turn left on Everett St and continue from there.

You will have several choices for hikes to see these 3 waterfalls. If you do all 3, it's about a 2.5-mile hike. If you are short on time, the hike to Juney Whank Falls is a moderate 1/4 mile. Look for the sign to the waterfall at the upper end of the parking lot. The trail is a little steep at first, then soon connects with the Deep Creek Horse Trail. Head to the right and up, then look for a side trail to the waterfall a few hundred yards up. The waterfall is visible from here and just a short distance down this trail. The main part of Juney Whank Falls is on the upper side of the bridge and is about 30-40' high. There's more below the bridge, but it's difficult to get a shot.

From here, you can either backtrack to the parking lot, or you can do a loop hike and only add a short distance to the hike. To complete the loop, continue on the trail over the bridge at the waterfall and connect back on to the Deep Creek Horse Trail. Turn right, then take the right fork down to the Deep Creek Trail. Turning right will take you back to the parking area. If you want to see the other 2 waterfalls turn left (and keep reading).

If you wanted to skip Juney Whank Falls, the other 2 waterfalls are along the Deep Creek Trail. From the parking area, continue past the trail to Juney Whank Falls and into the parking turn around. Then continue on the gravel road which is the Deep Creek Trail. This trail follows Deep Creek upstream and on a warm day, you will see plenty of tubers floating by. You will pass the loop part of the trail on the left that leads back up to Juney Whank Falls, then at about 1/4 mile from the parking area, look for 2 benches on the right next to the creek. Tom Branch meets Deep Creek here as the 70-80' Tom Branch Falls.

To see Indian Creek Falls, continue past Tom Branch Falls for about another ½ mile to the intersection of the Indian Creek Trail.  Turn right on the Indian Creek Trail and head uphill a short distance to a side trail on the left that leads down to the base of the 30 ft. Indian Creek Falls.  To get back to the parking area, head back to the Deep Creek Trail and following it back to the parking area.

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