If a challenging Smoky Mountain trail is what you’re looking for, look no further than the steep slopes of Chasteen Creek on the North Carolina side of the Smokies.
This 4-miler takes hikers through two backcountry campsites along the way, as well as a waterfall as it winds its way along a narrow, sometimes muddy trail. You’ll start out at a familiar site if you’ve hiked this area before – the Smokemont Campground along U.S. 441. From there, you’ll traverse the Bradley Fork Trail for 1.1 miles before joining the Chasteen Creek Trail.
Admire the creek valley as you begin your hike, but keep your eyes on the trail as the first mile is known for its muddier conditions. Thank the horses for that. It won’t last long though. As you climb, the mud gets left behind.
A trail to a hitching post for horses is reached at 0.7 miles into the hike. It’s down this side trail that a better view of the creek is obtained, as well as a Smoky Mountain cascade.
The trail and the creek run back and forth with each other for the next 1.5 miles. There are a slew of great picture opportunities along the way for all you photography enthusiasts.
Backcountry campsite No. 48 is reached at mile 2.4 on the trail between two creeks. It’s also one of the more picturesque campsites offered.
Back on the trail, it’s just you and the ascent up Hughes Ridge – a narrow, rocky climb with numerous switchbacks. Once you’ve reached the junction with the Hughes Ridge Trail, it’s 5 miles to the Appalachian Trail and Peck’s Corner.