Flat Creek Trail

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Distance2.6mi
Elevation Gain1,223ft
Trailhead Elevation4,894ft
Top5,335ft
Elevation Min/Max4744/5335ft
Elevation Start/End4894/4894ft

Flat Creek Trail

Flat Creek Trail is a hiking trail in Swain County, North Carolina. It is within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is 2.6 miles long and begins at 4,894 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 5.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,223 feet. The Heintooga Picnic Area picnic site is near the trailhead. There are also parkings. The Overlook Ridge and Flat Creek Bald can be seen along the trail.

Flat Creek Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Top Trails: Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 2nd Edition (Wilderness Press)
Johnny Molloy
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"This great family dayhike first passes an overlook, and then travels along a high-elevation stream to reach a waterfall and second vista. One of the highest water hikes in the park, the hike is near a picnic area and campground. The access, Heintooga Ridge Road, is generally open from mid-May through October. Enjoy a respite from the broiling lowlands during summer. June offers the most water in Flat Creek and a more robust falls. Fall has colors that contrast with the spruce trees, plus clear skies for awesome views." Read more
Day & Overnight Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Menasha Ridge Press)
Johnny Molloy
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"For Smoky Mountain enthusiasts, there should be no maybes about hiking this path. It starts at more than 5,300 feet and passes a wonderful view of the Smokies’ crest before entering a high-country forest of spruce and yellow birch. The path then descends along Flat Creek and makes its way to the highest elevation falls accessible by trail in the park. It is a fine family hike if you are careful to keep children under control around this steep and narrow cascade." Read more
Waterfalls of the Blue Ridge: A Hiking Guide to the Cascades of the Blue Ridge Mountains (Menasha Ridge Press)
Nicole Blouin, Steve Bordonaro, & Marilou Wier Bordonaro
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"This is another of those “Why aren’t more people hiking this trail?” waterfall hikes. Maybe it’s due to the fact that the Flat Creek Trail begins on a lesser-traveled road. But for waterfall enthusiasts there should be no maybes about walking this path. It starts at over 5,300 feet and passes a wonderful view of the Smokies crest before entering a high country forest of spruces and yellow birches. The path then descends to the highland valley of Flat Creek and makes its way to the highest-elevation falls that are also trail accessible in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Enjoy a respite from the broiling lowlands during summer. June will offer the most water in Flat Creek and a more robust falls. Autumn features colors that contrast with the spruce trees and clear skies for awesome views." Read more
Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Falcon Guides)
Kevin Adams
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"Flat Creek Trail is an “unknown gem” in the Smokies. Few people know about it, but those who hike it don’t soon forget it. Although heavily logged before park establishment, the forest walk is now one of the more scenic higher-elevation hikes in the park. To hike this route as described, you have to walk 3.6 miles on Heintooga Ridge Road. Walking on paved roads in the Smokies is normally discouraged, but this road receives relatively little traffic and there’s plenty of space to step off the pavement. It’s a rewarding walk as well, with nice views and abundant roadside wildflowers in summer." Read more

Flat Creek Trail Reviews

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4/14/2017
The flowers make this a beautiful springtime hike! Definitely worth it.
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8/25/2006
Trail runs along a stream. Near the beginning of the trail is an overlook with one of the best views of the Smoky Mountains I have seen. We came back for sunset and it was spectacular. The trail then quickly enters the woods. As this is high altitude, it was a cool day mid '70s in July when the rest of the state was getting temps near 100. The trail is in shady woods most of the way and runs along a stream. Lots of wildflowers and butterflys. Well worth the effort. It is a one-way trail that ends at the road, but you can make it a loop if you want to walk along the road a couple of miles and then take the 3/4 mile trail at the campground back to the trailhead. Only took off one star as the trail is not a complete loop.
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Flat Creek Trail Photos

Trail Information

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Nearby City
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Parks
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Camping
Additional Use
Views, Wildflowers, Waterfalls
Features

Activity Feed

Dec 2018