Image Source: Margaret Marr

One of the most popular watersheds of the Western North Carolina area is Deep Creek. This little gem in the Great Smoky Mountains is easily accessible from Bryson City, NC (about 20 minutes from Carolina Outfitters, a crowd-pleasing white water rafting company on the Nantahala River), and can be enjoyed by all ages. This bubbly creek can be rip-roaring through some mild whitewater (great for tubing) and peacefully calm where the water runs deep–great places to swim and cool off from the southern heat! Deep Creek flows into the Tuckaseigee River, which runs through Bryson City.

All places in these mountains have a back history. Deep Creek is no exception. Archaeological history goes back at least 8,000 years. The most famous bit of history involved a battle of the Civil War that was fought on its banks between the Union soldiers, the Cherokee, and the Confederates. In February of 1864, Major Francis M. Davidson of the Union forces out of Illinois attacked Colonel William Holland Thomas of the Confederate forces. The Cherokee fought alongside the Confederates. Major Davidson claimed victory, but failed in getting the Cherokee to abandon the Confederate army.

Today the only battles are playful water fights as tourists and locals descend on Deep Creek to swim or tube in its cool waters. You’re much more likely to hear laughter and shouts of joy rather than war cries echoing off the rocks and through the trees. Colorful tubes dot the creek during the hottest days of summer in Bryson City, North Carolina. Deep Creek offers an abundance of outdoor activities including, camping, swimming, tubing, and hiking. Wooden benches are sprinkled throughout your hiking adventure, giving a place to rest and take in the surrounding beauty. You can even ride a bicycle or horseback ride along the trails designated for this adventure.

Summer is for splashing in the water and sitting around a campfire at night, but when fall rolls in, it’s time for hiking and visiting the pretty waterfalls in the area. If you take the Waterfall Loop, a little more than a two mile hike, you can see all three of the waterfalls on Deep Creek: Juney Whank, Tom Branch, and Indian Creek.

Juney Whank Falls, Deep Creek, NC

Image Source: Discover Jackson North Carolina

Juney Whank Falls is a moderate hike with some uphill climbs and 0.8 miles long. It’s rumored to be named after Chief Junaluska “Juney” Whank who might be buried in the area near the falls, though historians still disagree over this bit of mountain and Cherokee history. A rough translation of Juney Whank by the Cherokee is “place where the bear passes.” The waterfall is two tiers with a combined length of 90 feet.

Tom Branch Falls in Fall

Image Source: Margaret Marr

Tom Branch Falls is located about 3/10th of a mile up the main hiking trail. It has plenty of seating to sit and watch the water cascade down the falls. It’s a peaceful place to linger and enjoy the day. Research turns up two different origins of the fall’s name. One is: Thomas Albert, eldest son of James Holland and Mary Elvira Sherrill who acquired a land grant on Deep Creek. The other is: Tom Wiggins, the operator of a gristmill for nearly 40 years during the second half of the 19th century. Either way, Tom Branch Falls will feed your soul with outdoor contentment. Take your shoes off and wade the creek for a refreshing moment in time.

Indian Creek Falls in Fall

Image Source: Margaret Marr

Indian Creek Falls is a 45 foot waterfall just a short distance from the Tom Branch Falls. This small waterfall is pretty as it cascades down a rock face into a pool created by the area around it. Some say Indian Creek Falls is more of a waterslide than an actual waterfall. However you look at it, it’s still a picturesque place to visit and listen to the mesmerizing sound of water as it spills into a pool before flowing downstream.

Sometimes the waterfalls are gushing with water, other times not. It depends on the amount of spring and summer rain, but Deep Creek is always a beautiful place to visit anytime of the year to get away from it all and take a walk in nature.

Wiggins Cemetery graves

Image Source: Find a Grave

Wiggins Cemetery. If you’re in good shape and want a strenuous hike, head up to a small cemetery hidden in a clear spot surrounded by the foliage of Deep Creek. After visiting the Indian Creek Falls, backtrack to the fork in the trails. Left takes you back to the parking lot, but the right will get you on the trail to Wiggins Cemetery (Hammer Branch of Deep Creek,North Carolina). Parts of this trail is a difficult uphill climb, so take heed. Once there, you can rest in solitude as you ponder the lives’ of those buried there in three graves belonging to Violet, Theodore, and Guy Wiggins. Graves not marked belong to Fred and R. Dorothy Wiggins. Their parents’ names were Moses Albert and Mary Elizabeth Raines Wiggins who birthed 11 children. Five of the children died before the age of two at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s. This serves to remind us that families once lived and died on Deep Creek many years ago. We should strive to respect, and protect the beauty and integrity of this beautiful creek, not far from the Nantahala River, nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina.

 

Margaret Marr, is a local author of paranormal, mystery, and suspense laced with romance. She has written over 15 books available on Amazon. 

 

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