Bryson City, Great Smoky Mountains, Hiking, Parks, photos, Staying Active

Deep Creek Hiking Trail

The Deep Creek Loop Trail, which is located just outside of Bryson City, North Carolina, is a moderately difficult, 4.6 mile roundtrip hike with rewarding water views, plentiful wildflowers, and peaceful river sounds.

This loop hike takes you past three great waterfalls. Approximately 0.8 miles into the trail, turn right onto the Indian Creek Trail – this marks the beginning of the trail loop.

The first waterfall on the hike is Tom Branch Falls, an easy 1/4 mile from the parking area. The path is nice and wide. You will even find benches next to the water.

Approximately 0.8 miles into the trail, turn right onto the Indian Creek Trail – this marks the beginning of the trail loop. One-tenth of a mile after this junction, you will see a small trail on your left side – this trail leads down to a beautiful 45-foot waterfall and is well worth the jaunt. You take a slight detour off your trail to head uphill and then downhill to be at the base of the falls. This is very near the put-in point for any tubing. After rejoining the main Deep Creek Trail, it hits the horse trail and heads uphill. There are also a few bridges to cross. Continue hiking over a footbridge and past the Rhododendron-rich Indian River Valley on your right. Around 1.4 miles, you will reach a junction in the trail – continue straight ahead (one mile to the right is the Thomas Divide). When you get to the 1.7-mile point, there is an intersection with the Deep Creek Loop – turn left to stay on the loop and ascend 350 feet over the next half-mile.

Next, you will reach the Sunkota Ridge junction at around the 2.2 mile mark – to stay on the loop trail, continue straight ahead. This is the highpoint in the Deep Creek Loop trail and it is downhill or flat hiking from here! At approximately 2.9 miles, you will reach the Deep Creek Trail again – turn left. Now, you will continue across a footbridge.

The trail culminates in the Juney Whank falls. It’s a quick downhill walk from there to the parking lot. You can just sit on the bench, built into the bridge with Juney Whank falls running beneath us.

Directions to Trailhead:
From Gatlinburg, drive into the National Park on the main Parkway. When you pass the Sugarlands Visitor Center on your right, take note of your mileage and continue 32.1 miles through the National Park. Once you reach the intersection of Route 441 and Route 19 in Cherokee, turn right on Route 19 and continue for 10 miles to Bryson City. Turn right onto Everett and continue for 0.2 miles to Bryson Street. Turn right onto Bryson Street and continue for 0.2 miles. Take your third left, which is Ramseur Street. Make your second right, which is Deep Creek Road. Continue on Deep Creek Road for 2.8 miles to the Deep Creek Loop trailhead (you will enter park 0.5 miles prior to arriving at the trailhead).

It will take you about 2 hours to get to the trail from one of our Great Smoky Vacations cabins. So, plan on making a day of it.

https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/deepcreek.htm

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Great Smoky Mountains, Parks

Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains

Black bears get most of the attention in the Great Smoky Mountains, elk are also a majestic site that can be found in the region.

If you see an elk in the Great Smoky Mountains, consider yourself lucky. These nearly-eliminated species can be a rare find.

Elk once roamed the Appalachian mountains, but were eliminated from the region from over-hunting and loss of habitat in the 1700s-1800s.

The NPS reintroduced elk into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as recently as 2001 and then again in 2002.

A total of 52 elk were released in the park. Cows (female elk) usually give birth to only one calf per year.

Elks like to bugle. According to the NPS, they do this to advertise to the females and intimidate other males.

Elk do have antlers, and male elk (bulls) often use them to spar with other bulls.

Deer on left, Elk on right

In the spring, elk shed their antlers, which are then eaten by small animals, according to the NPS.

It is illegal to remove antlers from the national park.

Elk are most active during cooler parts of the day, in the early morning or late evening.

Mating season, which is known as “rut”, begins in the fall, which is when male elk make their bugling calls.

Elk on left, moose on right

Elk are most commonly spotted along Cataloochee Valley on the North Carolina side of the mountains.

Remember, it is illegal to approach an elk within 150 feet or any distance that disturbs the elk.

Great Smoky Mountains, Hiking, History, Parks

Why do they call them the Smoky Mountains

The Cherokee called the mountains Shaconage – place of the blue smoke.

The rising mists are produced by the forest itself.

Water is pulled from the soil up into the plants and trees and eventually rises from the leaves, evaporating into the air.

The water cools and forms the blue-tinged mists you see rising over the mountains, eventually forming clouds and falling back to the earth to repeat the cycle.

The mountains, in many ways, retain the charms that made them attractive to the National Park Service.

Great Smoky Mountains, Hiking, Parks, Staying Active

Look Rock Tower Trail

Look Rock Tower Trail is a paved Smoky Mountain hiking trail you won’t want to miss. This trail is considered easy and is 0.8 miles roundtrip. The path is steep on this trail too. It is located off of Foothills Parkway near Maryville, Tennessee. There is an ADA friendly picnic area at Look Rock where you can enjoy a picnic lunch and spend some time with family and friends outdoors. This trail is not tagged as wheelchair or stroller friendly because although the trail surface is paved asphalt and it is typically at least four feet wide, it is moderately steep most of the way and very steep (over 12%) in areas. At the end of this trail is a beautiful view of the mountains. Pets are not allowed on this trail.

Look Rock Trail Observation Tower
Great Smoky Mountains, Parks, Wildlife

Coyotes in East Tennessee

The Coyote looks like a common house pet, but these animals can be the scourge of the forest. They will kill and eat almost anything they can.

Once found only in the western states, the coyote has moved east, north and south over the last few decades until it is found today in every state in the union except Hawaii.

They are a master predator that have few enemies and are willing to adapt to almost any place and almost any environment.

They are omnivores and will eat almost anything including fruits, berries, and bugs. Their main foods, however,  are small forest animals such as mice, squirrels, grouse, voles, moles, and rabbits.

According to TWRA spokesperson Matt Cameron, Mid-January to mid-March is coyote mating season, so homeowners are more apt to see them slinking around during thes months.

Coyotes reproduce each winter and can have up to 10 or 12 pups in each litter. Coyotes can live to be 10 years old in the wild.

They love to hang around neighborhoods, where they can easily find scraps and small animals.

“We are trashy people, we throw away a lot of food that brings in raccoons, opossums, mice, rats, all sorts of small mammals, which is what coyotes thrive on basically,” Cameron said.

When you see a coyote on your property, it is legal to shoot and kill it in the state of Tennessee. If you are shooting it somewhere else for game, you will need to have your small game hunting license, which is $34.

“State law offers very little protection for coyotes,” Cameron admitted. “There’s an open season, which is year round, and there’s no limit on the number that you can kill.”

Cameron suggested carrying pepper spray while you’re out, especially at night. It’s a good tactic to shoo the creatures away.

“Making yourself look larger, yelling at it, pick up a stick or rock something and throw it at that and we’ll let it know that you’re not afraid of it and generally they will leave you alone,” Cameron said.

Small dogs are most vulnerable to coyote attacks than other pets, so make sure your pet is on a leash or in a fence when going outside.

“When we let our animals out and you just turn them loose and let them go, you’re taking a risk on a coyote or another dog or something attacking and killing your pet,” Cameron said.

Cameron also suggests hiring a wild coyote trapper to help control the population on your land, but coyotes will continue to come back year after year.

Excerps taken from an article written by Katie Inman at channel 10 News TN

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