The 4.1 mile Jonas Creek Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains is an uphill hike complete with scenic views and sporadic cascades as it makes its way from the junction of the Forney Creek Trail at backcountry campsite No. 70 to the trail’s meeting with the Welch Ridge Trail.
To reach the Jonas Creek Trail, you’ll have to really be wanting to hike this section of the national park. First, hikers must travel the Forney Creek Trail to the starting point – 3.7 miles north of its junction with the Lakeshore Trail.
Hikers begin by crossing a foot log over Forney Creek and passing through backcountry campsite No. 70 – a horse camp as well. You’ll go on to cross Jonas Creek once you reach 0.4 mile on the trail. The rocks are slick and mossy so take care as you cross the stream. The trail becomes rocky on the other side and you’ll pass a majestic waterfall just to the right of the trail.
After crossing Jonas Creek a second time, you must skirt or walk through creek runoff as it flows over the trail. At this point it’s a very wet walk along the trail. You’ll cross Jonas Creek a third time but there is a rock hop to help you across.
You’ll hike across Jonas Creek a couple more times before you reach the junction with Little Jonas Creek 1.3 on the trail. You’re on the way to Welch Ridge. Some of the various trees you pass along the way include sassafras, sourwood, oak, and American beech. Yanu Branch follows the trail and you’ll eventually have to cross it by way of a foot log.
The next part of the Jonas Creek Trail is especially eye-catching so be sure you’ve packed a camera. The 100-foot cascade that comes up on the right of the trail is very notable. This is followed by a series of switchbacks that make up the trail before you start your climb up Yanu Ridge. You reach the top at the 3.4 mile marker. The finale of the Jonas Creek Trail is reached at the junction with the Welch Ridge Trail. Enjoy the Smokies!