Backpack the Forney Creek Loop

North Carolina Forney Ridge Trailhead

Added by Haresh Soorma

Fantastic overnight loop hike with stunning bald views, creek-side trails, water crossings, and quaint campsites.

This is an overnight loop hike that is built around one night in the back country. It can be done as an ambitious day hike. Be advised that permits are required by the NPS for all overnight stays in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The hike begins at the Clingman's Dome parking lot at the Forney Ridge Trailhead. Before you begin you have the option of taking a short concrete footpath to Clingman's Dome. If you're lucky enough to arrive on a clear day you will see a breathtaking panorama of the Smoky Mountains.

To begin, you will descend from Clingman's Dome down the Forney Ridge Trail towards Andrew's Bald. In approximately 1.7 miles you will reach Andrew's Bald. Again, depending on the weather you may be greeted with spectacular views or with a foggy white out. It all depends on how fickle the Smoky Weather is that current day. The bald has wooden planks that offer a nice path to walk without disturbing the brush or getting your shoes all wet if their has been a recent rainstorm. After 4.5 miles Forney Creek becomes Springhouse Branch trail. Continue SW on Springhouse Branch Trail until its intersection with Forney Creek Campsite 71.

*It is extremely important to note that Forney Creek has 7 total stream crossings, most without bridges. Most can be forded without getting your shoes wet, but depending on recent rain-storms you may need to remove your shoes or have fast-drying trail runners.

Continue on Forney Creek Trail to the gorgeous Campsite 70. Campsite 70 is near the intersection of Forney Creek and Jonas Creek Trails. It is marked by a chimney, the remnants of a crumbling homestead for loggers in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

The next day make the climb up Forney Creek Trail back to its intersection with the Forney Ridge trailhead from which you started. Of note, campsite 68 is located next a gorgeous waterfall/cascades down a rockface. A mile past campsite 68 is a park sanctioned side-trail to another waterfall.After reaching the intersection with Forney Ridge hang left for climb to the trailhead and parking lot.

Be advised that during some inclement weather certain roads in the park may be closed. Check with the GSMNP website for updates.

Pack List

  • Permit
  • Trail Map: $1 at trailheads or found online
  • Backpack
  • Tent
  • Food and Supplies for 1 night
  • Boots or Trail-runners
  • Camera
  • Trekking-Poles
  • Water filtration system
  • Basic First Aid Kit
  • Towel
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Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Fishing, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



16.8 Miles

Elev. Gain:

3500 Feet



Easy Parking
Picnic Area
Swimming Hole

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How to Get There

9 months ago

Favorite Loop

One of my favorite loops in the park. Camping in the old CCC Camp is always a nice stay with out many people.

9 months ago

Added by Haresh Soorma

Medical student who loves the outdoors. I'm attempting to hike all of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and (slowly) the Appalachian Trail.

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