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.

Great Smoky Mountains, Hiking, Parks

Your Guide to Visiting the Smoky Mountains National Park in the Winter

If you’re imagining hikes to frozen waterfalls or pictures with snow covered mountains as the backdrop, winter may be the perfect time for you to visit the Smokies!

What to Pack

Depending on the elevation, the average high for this season in the Smokies is 45°F and the low is 22°F, so you’ll want to pack plenty of warm clothes to wear. Layers are always a great idea because even though it’s cold. When you start your hike, the weather may be comfortable. But, as you get to higher elevations, it will get colder and you may experience snow on the ground. You may also experience mud at the higher elevations from the snow and ice melt. Be sure to wear appropriate foot wear. You should also bring some snacks and enough water to last for the entire hike. Just be sure that you don’t leave trash or leftover food anywhere, because it could attract wildlife. Feeding Wildlife is illegal and could lead to a nuisance animal which may have to be uthenized. Please refer to our Bear safety guide.

What to wear

Dress in layers, cover all of your skin, wear sunglasses or goggles and pack a flashlight.

Where to Hike

There are over 850 miles of hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains, however, some are better than others at certain times of the year. Waterfall hikes like the Laurel Falls Trail are gorgeous during the winter! You’ll feel like you’re in a winter wonderland as you look up at the half-frozen, 80-foot falls. The hike to the falls is arguably just as beautiful, with mountain views peeking through the bare trees. Please note they are starting to require a parking pass for Laurel Falls. So, be sure to purchase yours in advance. Another great place to hike during the winter months is Porters Creek. This trail is rich in history and is conveniently situated at a lower elevation, making it less likely to be closed off due to snow.

Grapeyard Ridge Trail in Greenbrier

With less foliage to camouflage old home sites and farmsteads, winter is a great time to take historical hikes. Prior to the creation of the national park in 1934 hundreds of families lived in the Smokies and many remnants of their legacies are still standing today. Old engine wrecks can be found from a time when railroads were one of the primary methods of transportation through the mountains. The Grapeyard Ridge trail in Greenbrier is an excellent place to see one of these wrecks as the old engine, which turned over in the creek, is still largely intact.

Alum Cave Trail

Another option that tops the list of best winter hiking trails is Alum Cave Trail. Alum Cave is a concaved bluff that towers nearly 80 feet above the trail. During the winter months, droplets coming off the ledges above the bluff form into large icicles.

Schoolhouse Gap Trail near Cades Cove

Schoolhouse Gap is another family friendly winter hiking trail that is located near Cades Cove. The trail is relatively short and is one of the trails where hikers are most likely to spot wildlife. Cades Cove is also home to many cabins and historic sites, many of which have been restored to how they looked over 150 years ago.

What Roads Are Open

Scenic drives are a great thing to do during any season as long as the roads are in good condition to be driven on. There are several primary roads that are open year round as long as the weather permits. These roads include US-441 (Newfound Gap Road), Little River Road, and the Cades Cove Loop Road. You can enjoy the stunning mountain views as you go along your way, and there are lots of spots where you can pull over to take pictures.

You can view the current road closures at

Does it Snow in the Smoky Mountains?

Lower elevations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park typically see several snowfalls each winter, while higher elevations tend to get more snow more frequently. Although many winter days see temperatures of 50 degrees or higher, the lows tend to range at or below freezing. It is important to check the conditions of the park and its roads any time you are planning a visit during the winter months. For the latest information on road conditions, check the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website or call (865) 436-1200.

If you have never seen snow in the Smokies, you are missing out on some beautiful scenery. Winter snowfalls, frozen waterfalls, and hanging icicles offer ample opportunities for capturing some amazing winter photos.

You also have an opportunity to spot wildlife during the winter in the Smoky Mountains. Watch for animal prints if there is snow as you venture down the trails. Just remember to maintain a safe distance from the animals. Check out some of our wildlife safety tips before you head out.

I personally love hiking in the winter. The trails are much less crowded and the temperature is much more enjoyable. Just be prepared and plan to spend the day stopping to smell the roses.

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Amusement, Attractions, Entertainment, Pigeon Forge, Show, Tour

Flying Theater Ride at The Island

Dynamic Attractions specializes in fun, innovative attractions that integrate top-of-the-line engineering and technology. The company’s flying theaters provides riders an exciting, immersive experience.

The world-class flying theater experience features a state-of-the-art ride system and a custom film that highlights natural wonders and iconic landmarks in the nation.

After riders take their seats, the floor disappears from beneath them. While on the ride, they’ll feel like they’re actually flying around the video setting. 

The theater will show a custom film, created with drone and helicopter footage, shot throughout the country. Riders will be transported to some of America’s well-known landmarks and other scenic locales. In addition to the feeling of flight, riders will also experience realistic scents and mists during the ride. The new ride will be located adjacent to The Island’s Great Smoky Mountain Wheel and The Island Show Fountain.

Book your Smoky Mountain Getaway at

Attractions, Gatlinburg, Great Smoky Mountains

Skylift Park Scenic Trail

North America’s longest pedestrian simple suspension bridge nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains also has a new scenic trail.

The Gatlinburg SkyTrail is a scenic walkway that will connect each end of the SkyBridge along Corockett Mountain. The trail will provide guests the opportunity to take a leisurely walk in the mountains along the half-elevated boardwalk, half paved walking path while enjoying new views of the famous SkyBridge. At just over one-third of a mile in length, the SkyTrail is an enjoyable walk for adults, kids, and even dogs and offer three distinct sections.

The Boardwalk is an elevated wooden walkway leading from the SkyDeck back along the hillside of the ravine that cuts under the SkyBridge.  Along the way, interactive signage provides information about the engineering of the SkyBridge, the history of iconic Gatlinburg SkyLift, and the wildfires of 2016 that swept across Crockett Mountain where the SkyTrail stands today.

The Lookout will is a steel tower set in the back of the ravine accessed by rope bridges and featuring elevated viewing platforms

At 680 feet across and 150 feet high, the Gatlinburg Skybridge is the only attraction in the downtown area where you can see the three highest peaks in the Smokies: Clingman’s Dome, Mount Le Conte and Mount Guyot.

The bridge may look bold at first, but when walking at a “normal pace” it takes only 3 minutes to get from one end to the other. However, visitors will no doubt want to stop along the way to take in that fresh mountain air an epic view.

Attractions, History, Parks

Things to do in Sevier County on a budget

Patriot Park

You can visit Patriot Park along Old Mill Square. The park is dedicated to veterans from Sevier County that served during wartime. The park offers a walking path, which takes you along the Little Pigeon River where you’ll see flags from the 50 states and from branches of the armed forces. The central point of Patriot Park is a Patriot Missile, which was made famous during the first Gulf War.

Walk Along Sevierville’s Greenways

Sevierville is home to multiple greenways, which are either situated along bodies of water or between commercial centers. These undeveloped tracts of land are exclusively meant for recreational enjoyment. The West Prong Greenway is especially beautiful, as it runs parallel to the West Prong Little Pigeon River. Enjoy a casual stroll along the river as you observe ducks, geese, and if you’re lucky, herons. If you’re in the mood for an extended journey, you’re welcome to hit up the Veteran’s Park Greenway, which will take you all the way to Pigeon Forge.


The parking area for Patriot Park is also the hub for Pigeon Forge Mass Transit trolleys, which offer a convenient and affordable way to get around town.

Goof Off at the Mt. Ton of Fun Inclusive Playground

Kids and kids at heart adore the Mt. Ton of Fun Playground, which helps visitors move their muscles while also addressing their cognitive, emotional, and social needs. The playground’s accessible climbing structures are bound to keep young children entertained, while nearby exercise equipment takes the boredom out of fitness for adults. Designed to be fully inclusive, this playground brings the community together while promoting the spirit of lighthearted fun for which Sevierville is known.

Old Mill

You can tour The Old Mill. Guided Tours of our Historic Old Mill takes you back to 1830. Still operating today, very much as it did in 1830, the gristmill is listed on the National Register Of Historic Places and is also a stop on the Tennessee Civil War Trail. The tour guide, Emmitt, has been around the mill for more than 50 years, having played in the millpond as a kid and then became a miller’s assistant as a teenager. He regales visitors with stories, rumors, and quite a few facts, about how the mill has been in continuous operation since it opened almost 200 years ago. This is a family-friendly tour that guests of all ages will enjoy! $8.00 per adult.

Tour Historic Downtown Sevierville

Stop in at the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce to learn about local attractions and to pick up a free guide. Nearby, you’ll find several impressive structures worth viewing as you stroll through the historic district. During your walk, you’ll observe the architectural highlights of multiple historic periods represented in a variety of beautifully preserved structures. Top destinations include the Ashley W. Trotter House, the Goddard-Teague House, the Davis Hotel, and First Presbyterian Church. Visit just a few of these historic spots or build a full hour into your itinerary to check them all out. Some of the tour’s finest structures are private residences, so be sure to show your respect and enjoy from afar.

Moonshine Tasting

There are several free places to sample moonshine in Pigeon Forge. My favorite is Tennessee Legends Distillery. My husband loves Tennessee Shine Company which is across Vetersans Blvd from Patriot Park.

Discover Sevierville’s History at the Sevier County Heritage Museum

The Sevier County Heritage Museum may be tiny, but it’s definitely worth visiting. This free museum features a variety of rotating exhibits that are designed to enlighten guests on the region’s fascinating history. The museum maintains limited hours on weekdays but is also open for appointments. The volunteers that staff the museum are kind and clearly passionate about history. They love to share facts and stories with visitors, who emerge with a greater appreciation of the heritage that makes Sevierville so special.

Wine Tasting

There are also several places you can sample wine in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg for free.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There is no admission to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are countless trails and unbelievable views waiting for you to explore. There are scenic drives for those who cannot hike. Foothills Parkway entrance is on Wears Vally Road. The Roaring Fork Motor Trail is located in Gatlinburg. Cades Cove is in Townsend and is a must every time we visit the area.

Explore the Area

There area covered bridges and swinging bridges in the area.

The Island in Pigeon Forge

The Island offers free admission, and you can enjoy the fountain, live bluegrass music, and window shopping without spending a dime. There is a fountain show every half an hour.

Watch a Movie at the Sevierville Commons

During the summer, free movie showings take over the Sevierville Commons on the 2nd Friday of each month. Stop by with loved ones for a family-friendly event that is nothing short of magical. While the movie may be the main attraction, the summer series also includes free pre-show activities such as crafts and dance parties. Concessions are typically available, with proceeds benefiting local non-profits. In the event of inclement weather, the movies shift to an indoor location, to be determined the day of the showing.

Downtown Gatlinburg

We enjoy walking around downtown Gatlinburg and doing some window shopping. Or you can spend hours walking around the Arts and Craft community of Gatlinburg to see some local artists.

Enjoy Some Peace And Quiet at the King Family Library

As the flagship for the Sevier County Public Library System, the King Family Library boasts a vast collection of books, magazines, DVDs, and more. Ample resources are available for visitors of all ages, including kids and teens. The structure is stunning both inside and out, with large windows offering plenty of natural light for those relaxing indoors. Don’t forget to stop by the third floor, where you’ll find an impressive history center dedicated to genealogy.

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