Smoky Mountain Trail: Meigs Creek Trail

Smoky mountain river calm stream with rocks in autumn fall leaves nature

Meigs Creek Trail

To access Meigs Creek Trail, make your way to The Sinks parking area, located 12 miles west of Sugarlands Visitor Center on Little River Road or 6.0 miles east of the Townsend “Y” on the same road. The trail starts on the right side of the parking area. Prepare yourself for some rock-hopping as you hike through the narrow, rocky valley of Meigs Creek, which feeds into the Little River near The Sinks. Expect to cross the creek multiple times, around 18-20 crossings in total.

Begin your exploration by conquering the towering rocks that stand above The Sinks pool. Once you’ve conquered the rocks, the trail will take you up a slight ridge, where you’ll navigate steps made of rocks and tree roots. Descending from there, you’ll find yourself in a peaceful, marshy expanse that was once a channel of the Little River.

The trail turns sharp right and ascends the side of a ridge. The mossy banks support many wildflowers including dog hobble, jack in the pulpit, plantain leafed sedge, and violets. As you climb the ridge it extends west from Curry Mountain, and in spots, you will see and hear the Little River on the Right. As the trail switches back around the ridge, the soil becomes dry and sandy. Shortleaf pines, white pines, mountain laurels, huckleberries, oaks, and maples live here. You will have a soft spot to walk. As you walk scan the sunny spots of the trail for rattlesnakes throughout this section. This kind of dry south-facing ridge is an idea habitat for the timber rattlesnakes, and many have reported seeing these snakes in this area. Rattlesnake’s usually just rest in sunny spots and watch hikers go by.

At about 1 mile you meet Meigs Creek and begin the first of 18-20 stream crossings, depending on how you count. The crossings are easy in low water. Some are easy at moderate water levels, but all can be tricky if it has rained all week. Use a walking stick can save you from a fall.

After about the fourth crossing, the trail gets squeezed even closer to the creek by the rocky walls of the narrow valley. Look for a rock slab on the right with lampshade spider webs on the underside. The trail will get a little steeper and passes a beautiful cascade on the right. Start looking for the cardinal flower on the banks or on rocks in the creek. It blooms in August and September. Each plant has several 18″ stalks lined with deep red blooms.

Massive Hemlocks grow on both sides. On the left, in a rare flat area, look for a big American Beech tree with buttress roots, smooth gray bark, and no branches lower than 25′. Bloody Branch joins Meigs Creek from the right near here.

The trail hugs the creek through a rock slab area. A rock overhangs on the right offering shelter from rain. At the fifteenth crossing Meigs Creek is quite small and the trail moves higher in the valley. After a short climb, the trail comes to Buckhorn Gap and the junction with Lumber Ridge and Meigs Mountain.