Length: 4 miles round trip
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Trail Difficulty: Easy/Moderate 9
Total Elevation Gain: 699 feet
Highest Elevation: 2642 feet
Scenery:Wildflowers, Stream, Waterfall
Porters Creek trail is a great trail to hike anytime of the year especially in the winter months when snowmakes other trails a tad too difficult. However in the spring and summer monthsthe vegetation is a thing of beauty making for the perfect scenic trail for aleisure hike.
Hiking Porters Creek:
A gravel road will take you thefirst mile of your hike on the Porters Creek trail and lead you into a forestof trees and rocks engulfed with moss. It is recommended to hike this trail inthe springtime as an abundance of yellow trilliums near the trailhead will bestarting their blooming period.
Toward the end of that firstmile, you will see the remaining stone walls of the old farmstead of ElbertCantrell, Vander Bill Whaley as well as the Ownby Cemetery. These date back tothe beginning of the 20th century. Once you cross the footbridge,you will come across a fork in the road. If you go right, after about 250 yardsyou will hit the old John Messer farm site featuring a barn that was built byJohn Whaley in 1875. There is also the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club’s cabin thatmembers used as an overnight shelter until 1981.
If you choose to go left at thefork and head towards the waterfalls, be sure to bear left after about 100yards at the next junction to continue onto Porters Creek trail. The road youare on should, by this time, turn into a path and you will start to see muchlarger and older trees. Pass the upcoming footbridge and take a look at all thewildflowers. The forest floor is home to an array of wildflowers such asbloodroot, hepaticas, white fringed phacelia, violets, white trilliums andmore.
The 60-foot Fern Branch Fallsdrop off towards the left of the Porters Creek trail as you reach the end ofyour hike. This is where you will want to rest up for the hike back, and snap somephotos.
Directions to Porters Creek Trail:
Starting atlight 3 in Gatlinburg or the junction of 441 and 321, turn to travel eastboundon 321.
Next, drive6 miles and make a right into Greenbrier looking for a sign marked Great SmokyMountains National Park entrance.
That roadwill then turn into a gravel road where you will drive 3.1 miles before hittinga fork in the road. Continue to head straight at the junction to reach thePorters Creek trailhead.
The parkinglot will be about a mile up from the fork.