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Top 4 Reasons Why You Should Hike the Porters Creek Trail

Porters Creek Trail in the Smoky Mountains
April 18, 2024

One of the huge perks of staying at the Greenbrier Campground is that the Greenbrier entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is less than a half mile away! This park entrance is considered off the beaten path for many visitors, which results in less crowded trails for your enjoyment! A highlight of the Greenbrier section of the park is the Porters Creek Trail, a scenic trail that offers a variety of stunning natural beauty! Here are the top 4 reasons why you should hike the Porters Creek Trail while staying at the Greenbrier Campground:

1. Family Friendly

The Porters Creek Trail is a delightful trail that is enjoyable for family members of all ages! If you have children with you, they will love exploring some of the things that make the Smokies great such as a waterfall, creek and even the remains of an old Greenbrier Cove settlement! If your family is lucky enough to experience the Porters Creek Trail during the springtime, this trail features some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! After your hike, you can look forward to the quick trip back to the Greenbrier Campground to relax or enjoy our fun recreational facilities!

2. Fern Branch Falls

fern branch falls

At the completion of your 2 mile hike along the Porters Creek Trail, you are rewarded with a stunning view of Fern Branch Falls! This waterfall, which is actually a series of cascades, is approximately 40 feet tall. It is named after the surrounding mosses and ferns, and it has an impressive boulder field at the base. While most folks use Fern Branch Falls as the turnaround point for the Porters Creek Trail, you can continue for 1.7 miles along the trail to a signpost for Campsite #31. This is the perfect place to take a break and have a snack before starting the hike back to your car.

3. Beautiful Scenery

The Porters Creek Trail features beautiful scenery, so be sure to bring your camera along and capture some of the most spectacular photos of your vacation! The first mile of the hike is on a gravel road that meanders along the banks of Porters Creek. During this portion of the hike, you will enjoy the lush environment complete with moss covered rocks, rushing streams and a thick canopy of trees! Once you pass a fork in the path about a mile into the hike, the gravel path will begin to narrow and you will eventually come to a single log footbridge before reaching Fern Branch Falls. This is a popular trail during the spring because of the yellow trilliums that bloom near the trailhead!

4. Fascinating Historical Structures

hiking club cabin

Another reason to hike the Porters Creek Trail during your stay at the Greenbrier Campground is to visit some of the fascinating historical structures! When you are about 2/3 of a mile from the trailhead, you will see the remnants of the Elbert Cantrell farmstead on the right side. This is where the Porters Creek community settled in the early 1900s and it is marked with old stone walls and rock formations. Once you pass the farmstead remnants, you can see the Ownby Cemetery on the right side of the trail and up a small set of stairs. Finally, about 1 mile into the hike, you will reach a fork in the trail where you can take a short detour and view John Whaley’s barn from 1875.

Other Hikes Near Porters Creek Trail

Porters Creek Trail is just one of the many fun family-friendly hikes near our Smoky Mountain campground. You’ll find hikes that all ages can enjoy just a short distance from Greenbrier Campground that have so much to offer. To learn more, take a look at these 6 hikes near Gatlinburg that you need to explore.