“A quiet trail that crosses Meigs Creek 18+ times. Return to the Sinks to enjoy a post-outing swim.”
— David Hitchcock
River/Creek · Swimming · Waterfall · Wildflowers
Closed when the Little River Road is closed from the Townsend Y to Sugarlands Visitor Center. For park road conditions, information can be found at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps or by calling (865) 436-1200 and dialing extension 2, 2.
From the Townsend "Y," go 5.8 miles on Little River Road toward Sugarlands to reach the parking area for the Sinks. From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, drive about 11.5 miles to reach the Sinks parking lot.
The Meigs Creek Trail starts at one of the most popular swimming holes in the Smokies, the Sinks. While it is popular, the area around the falls can be dangerous due to undertow, so be careful if you get close to the cascading water. The parking lot can fill up in the summers, especially on the weekends, so get there early to beat the crowds. The trail climbs up a series of stone steps before it descends into a boggy area. You'll see bamboo, paw-paw patches, and possibly mosquitoes as you move through this area. The trail starts climbing along a ridge that extends from Curry He Mountain, and at times, you'll be able to see the Little River on the right. Once you switch back around the ridge, the area becomes dry. Rattlesnakes have been seen in this area, so watch where you step as you make your way along the trail.
The trail descends for about half a mile until the trail meets Meigs Creek and your stream-crossing adventure begins. Over the next 1.5 miles of ascent, you'll cross the creek 18 times without the assistance of any footbridges. Depending on how much it's rained, the creek crossings range from easy (in low water) to tricky (in high water). There are times where the creek gets very close to the trail, and various cascades and pools are just off to the side of the trail. Logging this area would have been difficult with all the water, so there are areas where larger trees can be viewed.
At about 2.5 miles, you'll encounter Bloody Branch, named for an area where settler William Walker is rumored to have found his hogs one year and slaughtered them on the spot instead of trying to drive them home. The trail continues to climb, although creek crossings are now smaller than when you started. You finally arrive at Buckhorn Gap, where the junction of the Lumber Ridge Trail
to Tremont comes in from the right and the Meigs Mountain Trail
to Element comes in from the left. At this point, you have several options outside of just turning around and returning to your car at the Sinks.
Due to all of the water crossings, it is recommended that you have appropriate footwear and possibly trekking poles to help you with the crossings. It's a nice route, and once you get away from the Sinks, it can be a quiet one too.
Flora & Fauna
With all of the water in the area, this area has a wide variety of trees and wildflowers. Bamboo, pap-paw, maidenhair, Christmas ferns, dog-hobble, foam flower, jack-in-the-pulpit, violets, pines, mountain laurel, huckleberries, maples, oaks, rhododendron, cardinal flower, and American beech trees are just some of the flora that you will encounter in the area.
Rattlesnakes have been seen along the dry ridge, and other animals can be seen along the trail.