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Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

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Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls

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  • Porters Creek Trail.- Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls
  • In the spring every year, a portion of Porters Creek Trail becomes filled with thousands of fringed phacelias.- Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls
  • Exploring the Ownby Cemetery.- Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls
  • Bridge crossing over Porters Creek.- Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls
  • Fern Branch Falls.- Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls
  • Fern Branch Falls is a 40 foot waterfall located on the Porters Creek Trail.- Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls
  • Porters Creek Trail.- Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls
  • Exploring a short side trail to a historic farm site.- Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls
  • Historic Farm Site along the Porters Creek Trail.- Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls
  • Porters Creek Trailhead.- Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Wildflowers. Waterfall. Backcountry campsite. History.
Cons: 
None.
Region:
Smoky Mountains, TN
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
699.00 ft (213.06 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
3.80 mi (6.12 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,000.00 ft (609.60 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

In the Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you'll find the Porters Creek Trail. The area was once a busy community that was filled with families, a school for 225 children, shops, grist mills, churches, and cemeteries. A two story hotel owned by the Whaley family was open and welcoming guest in the early 1920s. However, unlike many areas of the park, Greenbrier only experienced selective logging, and many beautiful old-growth trees were left behind.

The Porters Creek Trail is the go-to trail for spring wildflowers, but it offers history and gorgeous scenery any time of the year. In the spring you'll find up to 40 different types of wildflowers blooming along this moderate trail. Dutchmens britches, fringed phacelias, showy orchis, dwarf iris, wild ginger and painted trillium are just a few of the flowers that you'll find on a spring hike. On your hike, you'll have the option to explore a local cemetery and the remnants of an old car just off the trail. As the wide path that was once an old road ends, you'll come across the old home place and farm site of the Whaley Family. Once you're past the old home place, you'll notice the trail start to narrow as you become surrounded by all of the local flora and fauna. You'll pass over a fun footbridge and then make your way up tucked away hills to Fern Branch Falls. Fern Branch Falls is a 40-foot waterfall and the perfect spot for a break or exploring. Once you've made it to the waterfall, you'll have the option to return to the parking area or extend your hike for another 1.8 miles to backcountry campsite #31. Take a break at the campsite and return to the trailhead or camp for the night under a star filled Smoky Mountain sky!

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(6 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(27 within a 30 mile radius)

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