Enloe Creek Trail to BackCountry Campsite No. 47

If you love to fish private picturesque trails with small waterfalls off a Smoky Mountain stream, you’ll love hiking along the Enloe Creek Trail. It’s a 3.6 mile trail from the Hyatt Ridge to the Hughes Ridge Trail, though it can be muddy in places. To reach Enloe Creek, hike 1.8 miles on the Hyatt … Continue reading Enloe Creek Trail to BackCountry Campsite No. 47

Shuckstack Firetower Hike

The hike is 6.8 miles roundtrip, it’s rated Medium but could be Strenuous because of the elevation gain. Standing at the top of Shuckstack Lookout Tower is easily one of the most dramatic and alluring experiences that you’ll find on any mountaintop in the Southeast. Sixty feet in the air, swaying gently in the wind, … Continue reading Shuckstack Firetower Hike

Cedar Rock Falls

Cedar Rock Falls is a really beautiful 20′ tall waterfall that is accessible via an easy-moderate 1.8 mile roundtrip hike. Cedar Rock Falls, in the Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest is one of four waterfalls that can be access via the Cat Gap Loop trail, which begins at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. … Continue reading Cedar Rock Falls

Upper Cedar Rock Falls

Upper Cedar Rock Falls is a really beautiful 20′ tall waterfall that is accessible via an easy-moderate 2 mile roundtrip hike. Upper Cedar Rock Falls, in the Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest is one of four waterfalls that can be access via the Cat Gap Loop trail, which begins at the Pisgah Center for … Continue reading Upper Cedar Rock Falls

Grogan Creek Falls

Grogan Creek Falls, in the Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest is one of four waterfalls that can be access via the Cat Gap Loop trailhead, which begins at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. Grogan Creek Falls is the 4th of these four falls, and is a 5.5 mile roundtrip hike, But first do … Continue reading Grogan Creek Falls

Confluence of Sassafras and Snowbird Creek Camping & Fishing

First I have to say, finding Snowbird is like finding a four leaf clover! We felt very lucky when we found it. This wilderness area is very secluded and not known to hikers, so the chances of finding solitude are great. We only saw two dog runners and a car camping guy with a dog. … Continue reading Confluence of Sassafras and Snowbird Creek Camping & Fishing

Cold Mountain Summit Hike

Reaching Cold Mountain Summit is a strenuous 9-mile roundtrip in the beautiful Shining Rock Wilderness Area of the Pisgah National Forest. Allow 5-6 hours of hiking time, plus breaks. The best months to hike are May through October. Go to the left from the parking area just after the Scout camp’s last building. Leaving the … Continue reading Cold Mountain Summit Hike

Gabes Mountain Trail to Hen Wallow Falls

The trip to Hen Wallow Falls is a pleasant walk through hemlock and rhododendron forest. A signed side trail leads to the base of the falls by way of steep switchbacks. Hen Wallow Creek, only two feet wide at the top of the falls, fans out to 20 feet at the base. The waterfall is … Continue reading Gabes Mountain Trail to Hen Wallow Falls

Big Creek Trail to Mouse Creek Falls

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate Distance: 4.2 miles round trip Highlights: gorgeous creek views, Midnight Hole, Mouse Creek Falls, history If you’re on the North Carolina side of the Smokies, the hike to Mouse Creek Falls is short, but sweet, and has something to offer year-round. In the summer, this trail offers plenty of opportunities for … Continue reading Big Creek Trail to Mouse Creek Falls

Mt. Sterling Hike

Atop Mt. Sterling (5,842 ft elevation) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the historic, 60 ft. steel fire lookout tower built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This is the highest elevation of any fire tower remaining in the eastern USA. From the top of the Mt. Sterling Tower, you overlook Cataloochee Valley, the Pigeon River Gorge, the Unaka Mountains, the main ridge of the Smokies, the Black Mountains (east), and the end of the Southern Appalachians.

The 2.5 mile hike (5 mi round trip) from Sterling Gap is an easy jeep trail with a hike difficulty Rating of 9.60 (moderate) due to the 1953 feet in elevation. At 1/2 mile up the trail, the Long Bunk Trail intersects. Continue climbing for two miles until you reach the ridgeline. At roughly 2.3 miles you’ll reach the Mount Sterling Ridge Trail junction. Turn right on the Mount Sterling Ridge Trail and the Tower will be about 4/10 mile on the right. There are no views from the base of the tower at 5842 feet! You will need to climb to enjoy the panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Back Country Campsite #38 is at the base of the tower. Water is 1/4 mile down the Baxter Creek Trail on the left. You could even spend the night in the small cab atop the tower. Mt. Sterling was known as the Devil’s Bedchamber to early Cherokee hunters.

Since the beautiful Cataloochee Valley is nearby, you will definitely see elk, the historic structures and more hiking trails there. Another tower is located on neighboring Mt. Cammerer.

There are several routes that will take you to the summit of Mt. Sterling. The shortest route to the fire tower is via the Mount Sterling Trail from Mount Sterling Gap.

The Mt. Sterling area is one of the more historic places in the Great Smoky Mountains. According to the early settlers in the area, the mountain was given its name after a two-foot wide streak of lead was found in the bed of the Pigeon River, near the northeastern base of the mountain. Unfortunately those residents mistakenly thought they had found silver.

One of the most famous stories associated with the area occurred during the Civil War. Towards the end of the war the remote valleys around the base of Mt. Sterling became popular hideouts for deserters from both sides of the war. Both Northern and Southern troop detachments would make frequent raids into the area to find and capture these fugitives.

Directions: Take exit 20 from I-40 and go west on U.S. Highway 276. Take the first right on Cove Creek Road and drive 15.7 miles. All but a few miles of this road is unpaved, curvy and bumpy. So allow plenty of driving time. At about 7.5 miles, you will see the turn-off to Cataloochee Valley. Continue straight to Mt. Sterling, following signs for Crosby.

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