Hiking: Juney Whank, Indian Creek and Tom's Branch Falls
Deep Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There are two trails leading to water falls from the Deep Creek picnic area offering shorter and longer options. Note the trail to Indian Head and Tom's Branch Falls is the same one used by tubers: On hot days, literally hundreds of children and adults carry their tubes as far back up the flat gravel trail as the junction of Indian Head and Deep Creek.
Directions: Enter the Deep Creek Entrance and stay left, go past picnic shelters and to the last and final parking lot where the road ends.
Look for the sign for Juney Whank (Cherokee for “where the bear passes”) at the end of the parking lot on the far left. This trail goes for one-third of a mile to the falls. The falls tumble and shoot down rocks for 100 feet, with a bridge passing over the falls at the mid-point in the cascades.
The trail to Indian Creek Falls is about one mile. It begins from the parking lot, taking off to the left near the bridge that crosses over Deep Creek. The wide trail has a gentle grade. It was once an old road used by Appalachian settlers living in the area up until the park’s creation just 70 years ago. The trail, shared by people toting innertubes to the put-in, follows Deep Creek and after about half a mile crosses over the creek on a bridge. You will see Tom's Branch Falls pouring into the creek just a few hundred feet up the trail. About a quarter-mile past the bridge, look for Indian Creek Trail leading off to the right. The falls are a couple of hundred yards on the left.
Both Indian Creek Trail and Deep Creek Trail continue to follow their respective creeks upstream along gentle grades through the cool, lush forest for those wishing to extend their hike. Those with an eye might see the remnants of old chimneys or the flat areas where homes once stood among cleared fields prior to the park’s creation when settlers were moved out of the area.