Big Creek / Mouse Creek Falls
|Trail Location:||Big Creek|
|Roundtrip Length:||4.0 Miles|
|Total Elevation Gain:||580 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||290 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||2240 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||5.16 (moderate)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||35.75188|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-83.11024|
Directions to Trailhead:
From I-40 near the Tennessee-North Carolina border, take the Waterville Road Exit (#451). Turn left after crossing the Pigeon River and proceed 2.3 miles to an intersection. Continue straight, past the ranger station, to a large parking area at the end of the road. The Big Creek Trailhead is located on the right, just before reaching the parking area, but doesn't list Mouse Creek Falls as a destination.
The Big Creek Trail follows an old railroad grade, built by the Crestmont Logging Company in the early 1900's to haul lumber out of the mountains during the logging boom. The trail was improved by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the early 1930s when it was converted for hiking use.
This is a great hike for novice hikers because the trail is relatively smooth, and is a gradual climb of only 580 feet over the course of the two miles to Mouse Creek Falls.
At first the trail climbs high above the Big Creek Campground, and away from the creek, but in approximately one-half mile rejoins the creek once again. For the rest of this hike you'll never leave the sight or sounds of the creek. Wildflowers and rhododendron line the pathway throughout this section of trail.
As you proceed higher you'll notice a boulder field off to the right of the trail. This is just one of the after-effects from the logging days. The erosion caused by stripping the mountainside of trees has exposed these underlying boulders. Unfortunately logging has left many permanent scars like this throughout the Smokies.
At 1.4 miles the trail passes Midnight Hole, a deep, picturesque pool below a 6-foot waterfall that flows between two large boulders. If you're lucky you may be able to see a trout scooting around the pool.
At 2 miles a short side trail off to the left leads to a bench where hikers can take a break and view the 45-foot Mouse Creek Falls. Located on the far side of Big Creek, the waterfall tumbles over moss covered rocks as it passes through some rather tall hemlocks. This is great place to drop your backpack, break out the camera, and grab a snack or picnic lunch.
The trail continues past an old carriage bridge to visit Walnut Bottoms, if you wish to explore more of the terrain in this section of the park. Walnut Bottoms is located just past Backcountry Campsite 37, and requires a hike of another 3 miles beyond Mouse Creek Falls.