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  1. #1
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    GSMNP - Noland Divide / Deep Creek Trail Loop

    Did ~19 mile loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last weekend with El Gordo. We chose a single overnight loop starting at the Deep Creek Trail Head within the Deep Creek Campground section near Bryson City, NC. Forecast called for mid 70 degree temps during the day falling to mid 60 degree temps at night.

    DSC02360 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    DSC02336 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    Our first day was relatively short at about 7-8 miles to get up to the campsite along Deep Creek. Accidentally took a brief detour up Martins Gap Trail near Campsite #57. Saw some bear scat along the trail before seeing this posting at #57:

    Untitled by Twistytee, on Flickr

    DSC02362 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    We rain into one of the largest black bears I've seen in NC just south of this location ahead of Campsite #58. It was crossing the trail and foraging along a hillside when Gordon and I came across it. Fortunately for us it either didn't hear us or chose to ignore us and continued looking for food. When we got to the closed site at #57 the rangers had set-up a dummy tent with a game camera mounted to a tree directly across from it. No signs of bear tampering that we could tell, but a little unnerving given some of the recent press about aggressive bear activity in the park.

    DSC02363 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    Ordinarily we wouldn't camp this close to the water, but our campsite was divided on either side of Deep Creek Trail with a woods view on one side and a fire-ring water view on the other side. We originally set-up woods side but relocated when we realize there was an existing developed site immediately adjacent to the creek.

    DSC02381 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    DSC02383 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    DSC02385 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    It rained the first night and most of the second day. Given the bear situation we made use of the park aerial cable system and I hoisted my pack as well as the food bags for the evening. Used my rain poncho as the cover and kind of looked like Casper from below:

    DSC02378 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    Room with a view for the evening:

    DSC02375 by Twistytee, on Flickr


    The Pole Road Creek Trail was pretty overgrown but had lots of waterfalls and creek crossings. We must have gone over 7-8 crossings and got our feet soaking wet on the second day.

    DSC02393 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    DSC02389 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    DSC02354 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    Finally broke through the rain and got some classic views of the Smokies along the Noland Divide rocky ridge near Lonesome Pine Lookout

    DSC02407 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    DSC02400 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    DSC02403 by Twistytee, on Flickr

    All in all it was a nice trip out. A bit short, but a short trip in the woods is better than none. Looking forward to a few more I have planned for this fall including Lineville Gorge again and the NC Balds.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    jb_outdoors's Avatar
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    Great report! How crowded was it out there? I'm always worried about planning a weekend trip out there and not being able to find a campsite.
    -- Josh

    "Courage, mon ami! Le Diable est mort!"

  3. #3
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    Thanks. We did the loop over a Sunday/Monday so not very crowded on the trails or campsites. We only saw 3 other campers while hiking the loop. The Park also requires you to reserve the dispersed camping sites in advance using their online reservation system. Most sites will accommodate up to parties of 6, so you have a good chance of securing a spot if you avoid holiday weekends or weekends during peak color season.

  4. #4
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    Looks like a beautiful trip. I’ve been through that are several times. Deep Creek was Horace Kephart’s favorite part of the Smokies.

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