Flat Creek Trail
ElevationAscent: 155' 47 m
Descent: -598' -182 m
High: 5,324' 1,623 m
Low: 4,776' 1,456 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 14% (8°)
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“A moderate descent through hardwood forests to the magnificent falling water at Flat Creek Falls.”— Ken Wise
Past Heintooga Overlook, the trail leaves the roadbed and drops off right onto a narrow, hard-packed dirt track that descends gently through a forest and into a bottomland to cross Flat Creek on a footlog. After a series of soggy stream crossings, the trail continues its gentle descent for a half-mile before approaching an access path to Flat Creek Falls exiting on the right.
Flat Creek Falls is a definite must-see in the Smokies, as the ruggedness, steepness, and rushing fall of the water, all compacted in a small isolated niche, engenders a wonderfully pleasant wilderness experience.
At the top of Flat Creek Falls, the only good vantage point is a rock platform on the far side of the stream that can be difficult to reach. The platform is along the top of a steeply angled, smooth rock shield about fifteen feet wide at the top and tapering over a distance of twenty-five feet to the narrow channel below. Flat Creek descends from a ledge into a small pool and then onto the shield, where it glides evenly and with little sound or turbulence, a deceiving prelude to the violently rushing torrent that follows below.
At the point where the Flat Creek Trail passes the access path to the falls, it begins a short climb over a low ridge that separates the Flat Creek drainage from that of Bunches Creek. A half-mile beyond the access to Flat Creek Falls, the trail crosses Bunches Creek twice on a footlog before starting into a short but steep climb to terminate at Heintooga Ridge Road.
This content was contributed by author Ken Wise. For a comprehensive hiking guide to the Great Smoky Mountains and to see more by Ken, click here.
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Land Manager: NPS - Great Smoky Mountains National Park