Hiking Big Creek Trail in the Smoky Mountains

June 30, 2022

If you’re looking to spend more time on the North Carolina side of the mountains, consider hiking Big Creek Trail in the Smoky Mountains! This is the perfect hike for the spring or summer months because it’s in a heavily wooded area, meaning more shady spots. This hike offers plenty of rewards, too, making it one of our favorites in the North Carolina part of the Smokies.

Round Trip Length 10.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 1,312 Feet
Trail Highlights Swimming hole, creekside hiking, two waterfalls, and bridges


To get to the trailhead, take Exit 451 when traveling east on I-40. Take a left following the exit, and drive for 2.3 miles after crossing the Pigeon River. You’ll pass the Big Creek Ranger Station before reaching the trailhead at 3.4 miles. The trail officially begins just uphill from the parking area.

Trail Description

Midnight hole in the Smoky MountainsOne of the reasons the Big Creek Trail in the Smoky Mountains is so popular is because it takes hikers to Midnight Hole, one of the most popular swimming holes in the Smokies. Midnight Hole is located about 1.4 miles into the trail. For the first mile of the trail, you’ll make your way along a creek — although you’ll be high above it, so you’ll hear it, just faintly. You’ll also see Rock House, a shelter of rocks that was once used by loggers working in the area. Like we mentioned before, you’ll stumble along Midnight Hole at 1.4 miles into the trail. It’s a large, deep, green pool that gives you some relief from the heat. About a half-mile later, you’ll see Mouse Creek Falls, a 45-foot waterfall that tumbles over several tiers of moss-covered rocks before crashing into Big Creek. Many hikers turn around at Mouse Creek Falls for a shorter round trip hike.

If you continue past Mouse Creek Falls, you’ll see more of Big Creek, an old carriage bridge, and Walnut Bottom, which is the site of an old logging camp. This is a great spot to see the gorgeous wildflowers in the spring!

Facts About the Trail

  • Midnight Hole is a popular swimming hole at the bottom of a 6-foot waterfall.
  • Mouse Creek Falls is a 45-foot waterfall that makes a great spot to stop, enjoy a snack, or just relax before continuing the hike.
  • The Big Creek area is known for its logging history. The Big Creek Campground and parking area was once a log mill.
  • You’ll cross bridges over Big Creek.

Mouse Creek FallsYou’ll love exploring everything that Big Creek Trail in the Smoky Mountains has to offer. Whether you want to go for a swim in Midnight Hole or just explore the pieces of history, you can have a great time on this hike. Keep in mind you’ll want to have good hiking boots or shoes, sunscreen, snacks, and plenty of water. If you want to swim, be sure to bring a bathing suit, a towel, and some good water shoes!

For another popular hike on the North Carolina side of the mountains, learn about hiking Indian Creek Falls in the Smoky Mountains.