Hiking the Porters Creek Trail in the Smoky Mountains

October 08, 2018

The Porters Creek Trail in the Smokies is a trail that’s great for all hikers of any age and ability! The trail is located in the Greenbrier portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This beautiful area is like a hidden gem in the national park. In this area and on the trail you’ll find gorgeous scenery, old growth forest, wildlife, and come across sections of Appalachian history.


Round Trip Length 4 miles
Elevation Gain 350 feet
Trail Highlights Wildflowers, historic sites, waterfall

Porters Creek trailTrailhead

You will travel east from Gatlinburg down highway 321. Greenbriar is 6 miles from Gatlinburg, and will be a right hand turn. The road will turn into gravel shortly after your turn off from 321. After traveling about 3 miles down the road you will come to a fork in the road. Head straight in order to reach the trailhead for Porters Creek.

Trail Description

The trail actually starts out as a gravel road. The roads travels through a lush, mossy portion of the forest as it travels alongside Porters Creek. Before long hikers will start to notice old, stone walls along the trail. These leftover walls are from the farmstead of Elbert Centrell a settler of the Porters Creek community. Just past these old remnants to the right will be the Ownby Cemetery. The cemetery dates back to the early part of the 20th century.
After traveling another mile down the trail, hikers will reach John Messer’s farm site. There’s even a beautiful cantilever barn here that was built in 1875! Finally, the gravel travel turns into a dirt path. It’s here you will notice much larger, old-growth trees. Once hikers pass the second footbridge of the trail this will be an excellent area to see wildflowers in the spring!
At roughly 2 miles hikers will arrive at the 60 foot tall Fern Branch Falls. After rain this waterfall can be a pretty spectacular sight! After this point the trail continues for another 1.7 miles to reach Backcountry Campsite 31.

fern branch fallsTrail Notes

– The Porters Creek Trail is an awesome hike to try during the spring! Throughout the hike you will find gorgeous wildflowers.
– This hike can be navigated in open toed shoes. However, closed toed shoes are always recommended.
– Bring plenty of water so you can stay hydrated!

The Porters Creek Trail in the Smoky Mountains is a must try if you want a fairly easy hike that has a lost of exploring available! Make sure to bring your camera! If you have decided you love the peacefulness and beauty of the Greenbrier area then you need to visit Ramsey Cascades! This beautiful waterfall trail is also in the Greenbriar area.