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A steep trail connecting Big Creek Trail to Mount Sterling Ridge Trail and Pretty Hollow Gap Trail.


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Map Key

4.0

Miles

6.4

KM

Point to Point

5,172' 1,576 m

High

2,976' 907 m

Low

2,210' 674 m

Up

15' 4 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

21%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Wildflowers · Wildlife

All campsites must be registered with the Great Smokey National Park, which can be done here.

Description

There is a significant elevation gain from the campsite at Walnut Bottom (Campsite 37) to the base of Mt. Sterling. This is where the trail becomes strenuous, and using extra caution is highly recommended. Leaving the campsite, hikers must backtrack (not even a tenth of a mile), where they will see a junction where Big Creek Trail and Swallow Fork Trail meet.

Following the Swallow Fork Trail, visitors will cover 4 miles where they will gradually move out of the forest and onto the Mt. Sterling Ridge.

At the end of the trail, visitors have the choice of heading South at the trailhead junction on Pretty Hollow Gap Trail, or East/West via the Mount Sterling Ridge Trail (which is also part of the Benton MacKaye Trail).

Flora & Fauna

As with any trail in the Smokies, you might see black bears. There are abundant salamanders (31 different species) in the creeks. Spring wildflowers peak from early April through late May along the entire route, with some later blooms at the higher elevations.

For more information on black bears, refer to this webpage.

Contacts

Shared By:

Max Willner with improvements by Lisa Messer

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 4 votes

#2

in Big Creek

#8179

Overall
  4.5 from 4 votes
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4 Star
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Trail Rankings

#2

in Big Creek

#276

in North Carolina

#8,179

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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

Jul 4, 2018
buddy beavers
Dec 3, 2017
Gretchen Pardon
Hiked this trail down for a moderately easy hike. 3 small water crossings that could be rock hopped. 4mi — 1h 45m
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