One of my favorite Smoky Mountains hikes is in the Big Creek section of the National Park, located on the eastern side, with the easiest access being from Interstate 40. Take the Waterville exit (451), which is the last Tennessee exit going east. Proceed through a hydroelectric plant, crossing into North Carolina, through a four-way rural intersection and into the Park. There is a campground and picnic area as well as excellent hiking. This area was heavily timbered in the early part of the 20th century, and as a result, the trail is a wide berm with an easy grade created to remove the trees with a rail line. This hike features two fine waterfalls!
About a mile up the trail you’ll pass a jumble of huge boulders known as Rock House. Another half mile up the stream is Midnight Hole, which is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains. It flows into a deep green pool that gives the waterfall it’s name. Be careful not to miss the short side-trail that detours over to the bottom of the falls. It’s an excellent swimming area in summer, and as you can see from the picture, a beautiful spot in the fall. This is a good hike any time of year.
The picture to the left is one of my Featured Photos, and is a perennial best-seller.
But don’t stop now! Another half-mile up the trail is a second gem, where Mouse Creek plunges dramatically down a steep hillside and into the creek. This is another great spot in the fall, and the boulders will beckon you to sit down and eat your trail mix, take some photos, or just meditate on the wonder of it all.
If you continue on for several hundred yards, there is a footbridge that crosses Big Creek and another very attractive pool.
Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display photos of the Smoky Mountains at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.