“One of the toughest trails you'll hike, but what incredible rewards!”
— Ben King
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This is the longest single trail in the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness area at 13.2 miles. Starting at around 1100 feet at the Slickrock Trailhead and nearing 5000 feet at terminal intersection with the Naked Ground Trail
, this trail has at least 12 fords, some of which are very challenging, especially at high water.
The trailhead is adjacent to the Cheoah River Bridge on 129. This trailhead is very crowded, especially on days when there are whitewater releases on the Cheoah. Another parking option is across the bridge. At 0.5 miles, the Ike Branch Trail is on the left. The Slickrock Creek Trail follows the contour along the Little Tennessee River to the head of Slickrock Creek where there is a nice overlook around mile 2.
Continue to the second junction with the Ike Branch Trail at mile 3.7, the Stiffknee Trail at mile 4.3, and the Nichols Cove Trail at mile 4.5, with several stream crossings along this section.
From the Nichols Cove Trail junction, the trail continues criss-crossing the creek, past Wildcat Falls
a highlight of this section. The crossing above Wildcat Falls
should be undertaken with extra caution at high water because of the risk of going over the falls. At mile 7.3, Big Stack Gap Branch Trail - Trail 139 turns off to the right, and Big Fat Trail #41
at mile 8.0. After this point, the trail continues to generally follow the creek, without major stream crossings for the next 2 miles.
At mile 11, the trail turns away from the creek and starts a difficult climb to the Naked Ground Trail
junction at mile 13.2.
Flora & Fauna
This area has a very large black bear population and is also home to deer and coyotes. Expect to see plenty of signs of wildlife along the creek as this is an ideal habitat.