Welcome to the Bradley Fork Trail, it’s a 3.6 in and 3.6 out hike that keeps a gradual climb for its first 3 miles and gets a little steeper for the last 1 mile or so, as it twists around the Oconoluftee River. It’s considered an easy hike with only 680 feet of elevation gain. Of course, the trip back out is mostly slopped in the downward direction.
After about 1 mile, we crossed a wooden bridge over a beautiful stream just before reaching the junction with Chasteen Creek Trail at 1.2 miles. Very soon after campsite 50 is tucked in and hard to see as we were going in. Site 50 has 2 fire rings and I’d say, one of the easier sites to reach in the Smokies.
We came to a fork on the Bradley Fork Trail (ha, ha), we took a right to continue our hike in up to the next camp site. However, we took a detour left to see where they “park” the horses. We followed that in and came to a nice waterfall where we took this picture.
Onward, a horse trail comes up on the right before another two bridges crossing Bradley Fork where it splits and forms an island.
About half way in we’ll come to a “No Camping” sign. Then start a short climb to Hughes Ridge. At the trail’s junction with the Hughes Ridge Trail, it’s only 2.2 miles from the Appalachian Trail and only 7.3 miles from Smokemont.
Note: Bring a pole next time, Bradley fork has some nice fishing holes.