Possibly 13.5 of the easiest miles you’ll find in the Smokies. This lollipop loop heads up Deep Creek, the first mile or so of which is popular with tubers (not of the potato variety) in warm weather. Traffic thins, the scenery doesn’t as this old roadbed continues along montane Deep Creek (and past several great campsites, if you’re of a backpacking mind). After more than six miles you have your only significant climb, a short one up to Martin’s Gap where you catch the Sunkota Ridge Trail for some high ridgeline hiking before dropping to Indian Creek and your return home.

More info: Great Smoky Mountains National Park website, nps.gov/grsm/index.htm 865.436.1200; “Backpacking North Carolina,” Trip No. 20.

Maps: “Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina,” Trails Illustrated, National Geographic.

Map of trailhead here.
View 20 Classic North Carolina Hikes: Deep Creek Loop in a larger map


deep creek
Location: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Nearest town: Bryson City
Latitude: N35 27.886
Longitude: W83 26.068
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 13.5 miles
Loop/one-way: Loop
Time to complete: 8-10 hours