Deep Creek Hike and Visitor Center

November is much crueler than April.

We’ve changed our clocks back, giving us dark afternoons. This year, the weather played a nasty trick on us. Snow greeted us on November 1, which for Asheville, is very early. But the weather redeemed itself by the time Anna Lee of Friends of the Smokies and I scouted the November Classic Hike of the Smokies. It was dry and warm, by the afternoon. I’m still wearing shorts on the trail.

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Juney Whank Falls in Deep Creek

We headed to Bryson City and walked the Deep Creek and Indian Creek Trail. Deep Creek Trail goes 14.2 miles from Newfound Gap Road to Deep Creek trailhead, where we started.

First Juney Whank Falls, said to be named after a Mr. Junaluska “Juney” Whank, who may be buried in the area. According to Hiking Trails of the Smokies, Deep Creek Trail was one of the first trails built to park specifications after the park took over the land. At the Bryson City end, the trail is wide and can handle park service vehicles.

Back on the Deep Creek trail, we find Tom Branch Falls. It’s a tall waterfall on the other side of the creek. We pass the tubing put-in but you can be sure that no one is tubing now. We take the loop trail, which involves about 400 feet of climbing to the top of the ridge, where Sunkota Ridge Trail takes off. The loop trail intersects Indian Creek Trail.

At this point, most visitors make a right on Indian Creek and head back to the cars. But we took a left and continued to the end of the trail at a huge roundabout. On the way, we say three deer and one very lost hunting dog. Though hunting is not allowed in the national park, hunting dogs find themselves here from Pisgah National Forest, close by.

If you were driving here in the old days, this was probably where you had to turn back. And we did too.

Indian Creek Falls
Indian Creek Falls

Indian Creek falls, the third waterfall, was probably the most photogenic. A side trail took us closer to the waterfall for better photographs.

Back at the trailhead, we went to the new Great Smoky Mountains Association Visitor Center at the Swain County museum.  They don’t have a website yet, so this article is the best I can do.

Most of the museum is on the second floor but we concentrated on the Association bookstore. It’s jammed pack with books, regional jams, and honey, and gifts with a park theme.

Erin Lamm at the GSMA bookstore
Erin Lamm at the GSMA bookstore

Assistant store manager Erin Lamm was minding the store. I bought my customary calendars for next year. A calendar makes a great, inexpensive, and not too personal gift. If you’re all about shopping local, go to your nearest Smokies visitor center store.

We’ll lead the hike on Tuesday November 11, Veteran’s Day. This is actually a special veteran’s day and we’ll try to remember it.

The weather forecast is for pleasant fall hiking temperature. To sign up, see the Friends of the Smokies events page and sign up now.

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