Anna, Holly, Lisa and I
I had doubts about going this hike. It had 3 waterfalls on it but was nearly 17 miles round trip in the Smokies. The elevation wasn’t to bad 2400 feet but 17 miles is a lot! I’m so glad I went. This was off Interstate 40 right at the Tennessee Border. The Waterville exit to Big Creek.
All of the Great Smokie Mountains are amazing. This area, especially Big Creek was gorgeous. As we walked this trail the smokies loomed above us. We never saw a soul until our way back near the parking lot.
This trails meandered along big creek. Big creek is a beautiful crystal clear creek with smooth rocks and boulders. It was absolutely beautiful. Sometimes along and sometimes high above but constantly full of wildflowers. Holly and Anna knew all of them and we spent the first couple miles taking pictures of them. On Holly’s post a friend said he cataloged 50. I don’t think we saw that many but we saw lots!
At 1.5 miles is a pretty waterfall called Midnight Hole. It is a nice swimming hole. The water is crystal clear and every round rock is visible. In the summer I can see hords of people here but it looks pristine now.
Then at 2 miles is Mouse creek Falls. There are 2 above this off trail that we did not do this time.
This whole trail appears to be an old logging road. There were buried steel cables and whatever the heck this was.
At about 5 miles there is a trail junction. Left for Swallow Fork Trail that will lead to Mt . sterling trail. Go straight and cross a nice bridge over Big creek. the view from the bridge shows more crystal clear water.
Just past the bridge are some great campsites. The first one had a bear bag pulley system set up. The next one had a horse tie up.
The next mile or so went through the most beautiful part of the forest. The ground was covered in white wildflowers and the spring green was busting out everywhere.
The last mile or so to the falls have a 1000 ft elevation gain. That’s not to bad but we are nearing 8 miles.
There are 4 creek crossings next most a Rick hop but the one over Big Creek may or may not be a wade. I was concerned about this one. It’s a bit to cold to wade across but we came this far we were committed to it. Thankfully not necessary. Anna took off her shoes and walked across. She even stood there and helped me jump to the next rock so I could stay dry! Heck yea. Holly made it either with her trekking poles and lisa flew over it like a gazelle. The next couple were easy rock hops.
We came to the next water fall that if you don’t walk down a path to it you would miss it. It faced sideways and the rocks even kept the sound of rushing water away. It is an amazing spot. One of the most beautiful spots on this hike. Crystal clear water that said come on in, swim a while. Holly And I were so tempted! If Gunter Creek falls wasn’t another quarter mile we might of, even though it was only 60 degrees!
We continued up the trail and finally arrived at Gunter Fork Falls at about 8 1/4 miles. We sat and had lunch. The rocks are beautiful and there is a 20 ish drop at the top but not a lot of water flow.
Anna said there is another falls above this one a short bushwhack. Holly and I decided to sit that one out and Lisa and Anna headed up. When they came down they were in the middle tear of this falls where I fully expected Lisa to be anyway! She almost always climbs a climbable waterfall! 😁
Well ok! Now just a little over 8 mile walk back! 🙄 on the way back there was this gorge area we missed going up. It should have been easier to spot on the wsy up. We stopped and climbeddown to the river coming out under some giant boulders. The closer Holly got she was like “you got to see this!” It was a waterfall under there. It was absolutely incredible.
I’ve have completed 2 – 28.3 mile one day Make A Wish hikes on the Foothills trail. Other than that this is the longest day hike I’ve ever attempted. It was doable because of the people I hiked with! We had a great time and I am so glad I didn’t back out! I just love the natural high I get the next couple of days from a great hike!