Hiking Project Logo

blueBlack Mingus Creek Trail


5.8 mile 9.3 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 2,911' 887 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 4,995' 1,523 m
Low: 2,085' 635 m


Avg Grade: 10% (5°)
Max Grade: 31% (17°)


No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Ken Wise

A steady climb following a peaceful creek to stunning views atop Newton Bald.

Ken Wise

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views


The Mingus Creek Trail begins at the gate along the upper end of the parking area adjacent to the mill. About fifty yards to the right of the gate is an old slave cemetery occupied by a few unmarked fieldstones. The trail leaves the gate on a wide easy track along the stream near where a 150-yard sluice of oak boards diverts water from Mingus Creek to a wooden mill.

Beyond the mill, the trail crosses Mingus Creek multiple times on wooden bridges before entering a large open space once occupied by a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. Foundations remain of the officers’ quarters, the corpsmen’s barracks and mess hall, as well as various workshops, educational, and recreational buildings can still be recognized on the landscape.

Beyond the second bridge, the trail proceeds through cove-hardwood stands on an easy course along a wide jeep track a half-mile before crossing a third bridge over Mingus Creek. Above the bridge, the jeep track abruptly gives way to a narrower course that is steeper and more uneven.

From this juncture, the trail winds through former farmsteads, crosses a feeder stream on a footlog, and then enters an intersection. On the right, the wider track continues upstream along Mingus Creek, proceeding another three-quarters of a mile to a path that leads eighty yards to the Mingus Creek Cemetery. At the intersection, the Mingus Creek Trail bears left, diminishes to a narrow track, and begins following Madcap Branch. The grade becomes markedly steeper as the course begins negotiating several crossings of Madcap Branch. The first is a bit difficult, while the remaining crossings are much easier and are spaced at irregular intervals.

One mile above the junction, the Mingus Creek Trail executes a sharp switchback, the first of several that leverage the trail up the mountain and into a minor gap where it intersects the eastern terminus of the Deeplow Gap Trail.

At its intersection with the Deeplow Gap Trail, the Mingus Creek Trail turns right and follows the ridgeline to Newton Bald. Initially the grade is easy, but it soon enters into a steep steady climb that remains below the ridgeline. About a mile and three-quarters above the Deeplow Gap Trail junction, six switchbacks begin elevating the trail to the ridgeline.

Above the switchbacks, the trail enters the southern perimeter of Newton Bald and terminates into the Newton Bald Trail.

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.

Flora & Fauna

At one point, a live American chestnut tree stands just off to the right of the trail. The tree is about forty feet high, eight inches in diameter, and is identifiable by its coarsely serrated oblong leaves and the spine-covered husks that hold the chestnuts. This chestnut is one of only a few mature trees of this species still living in the Smokies. Until their demise from a parasitic fungus early in the twentieth century, the chestnuts were one of the dominant tree species in the Smokies, occasionally comprising most of the forest cover on the drier hardwood slopes like those flanking the Mingus Creek Trail.


Rate This Trail

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In


Nov 25, 2018
Jen Giallombardo
Oct 29, 2018
Rodney Broschinsky
Jun 1, 2018
Chalice Keith
Nov 22, 2017
David Hitchcock
Hike from Newton Bald Trail down to the Mill. The ridge was nice and dry, but the lower stretches were wet due to multiple creek crossings. 5.8mi
Jul 4, 2017
Shawn Paulus
May 16, 2017
Patrick S
Did 4.5 miles each way, up and down 9mi — 5h 00m
Apr 14, 2017
Dave Emery
Took Mingus Creek up to camp 52 for overnight. Nice trail. 5.8mi
Dec 29, 2016
Mandy Runge

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 5 votes


in Oconaluftee


  4.0 from 5 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in Oconaluftee


in North Carolina


46 Views Last Month
1,755 Since Jul 25, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult



Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking