Friends of the Smokies Holiday Hike at Deep Creek

Juney Whank Falls
Juney Whank Falls

The Deep Creek loop hike today ended the fifth season of Friends of the Smokies Classic Hikes of the Smokies.

Who knew that when Holly Demuth, North Carolina Director of FOTS, asked me to lead a hike, the program would become so big?

The Classic Hikes of the Smokies also has traditions. One of the traditions is that the December is a half-day hike, close to a Great Smoky Mountains Association bookstore. After the hike, we take hikers to the GSMA bookstore, so they can do some shopping.

GSMA Bookstore
GSMA Bookstore

We met at the Deep Creek trailhead just outside Bryson City. The loop starts up to Juney Whank, said to be named after a Mr. Junaluska “Juney” Whank, who may be buried in the area. The waterfall was really running. There has to be some benefit to all that rain.

It wasn’t easy to get the whole group (23 hikers) on the bridge. See the picture above. And, yeah, I know, it wasn’t not too smart either. The bridge wasn’t built to hold all those people at the same time.

Tom Branch
Tom Branch

We came down to Tom Branch on Deep Creek Trail and continued to a small cemetery. If you see an unmarked trail with a “no horses” sign, the odds are that the trail leads to a cemetery. So most of us climbed a short, steep path to a small cemetery. It held about six mounted graves but no grave stones.

A loop trail (that’s what it’s called) took us up and down to Indian Creek Trail. I have so many pictures of Indian Creek Falls, but I keep taking more shots.

Indian Creek Falls
Indian Creek Falls

We’ve had so much rain that the waterfall was full and broad. A set of steps takes you down to the waterfall and you feel that you can touch the water.

We then drove into Bryson City to the Swain County Museum and GSMA bookstore. The building used to house the Swain County Courthouse. It’s a beautiful, ornate structure, but probably not up to the job of a current courthouse. A new courthouse was built a few blocks away-probably not that new by now, but I can’t seem to find when it opened.

Log cabin
Log cabin

The second floor has been turned into a small museum. A cabin replica takes up much of the floor space. Logging was a very important part of the history of Swain County, as “outsiders” came into the area salivating at the untouched forests.

We all said good-bye, wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Just like school, we said “see you next year”.

Next year will be an exciting year for the Classic Hikes program, for Great Smoky Mountains National Park and most important, for the National Park Service, which celebrates its  100th anniversary. The park is encouraging visitors to hike 100 miles for the 100th anniversary. So we’ve planned a hiking program that will encompass over 100 miles of hiking.

If you’re a regular hiker, you’ll get an invitation to sign up for the whole series. If you’re new and want to get on the mailing list, contact Anna Lee Zanetti at annalee@friendsofthesmokies.org at Friends of the Smokies on 828.452.0720.

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