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Trails Along Rivers

Slickrock Creek


Quality:
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Roundtrip: 16 miles

East TN/West NC, from Knoxville take AlcoaHwy/ HWY 129, stay on 129 ALL the way, this includes a turn outside ofMaryville to the left...just make sure to follow the signs so you don't continueon 411, the trail head is on 129 in NC just across Cheoah Lake at the CheoahDam, there is a sign, the trailhead is on the right just across the bridge,it's a LONG way down 129, just before Robbinsville, NC

Don't be dismayed by the length of this trail, because there are several shorter circuitsthat can be hiked within the area from this trail. Also, the trail itself is actually longer than 8 miles, but it's at mile 8 where it pretty much leaves the river. The river has a lot of nice swimmingholes, and there are also a couple of waterfalls. Lower falls is small butnice, and it's about 3 miles down the trail. Wildcat falls is bigger,and it's reached at about 7 miles in. One major point about this trailis that it crosses the river about 14 times (I think...I eventually lost count...) before heading up to NakedGround (the final crossing is at mile 8). This is a lot of fun if you like this sort of thing, but you willget REALLY wet on this trail! It slows you down quite a bit, even if you'relike me and you don't take off your boots for a river crossing, so plan on extra hiking time. The wateris pretty deep in most places, so it's not practical to expect to rockhop across the crossings. Also, if it's cold or there has been a big rain,this trail can pose a lot of problems. In the heat and dryness of the southernsummers, though, this trail can be popular but still a whole lot of fun.The river and, subsequently, the trail, are the TN/NC state line, so it'salso kind of neat to see the state markers every once in a while on the river.Be forewarned about continuing to Naked Ground from this trail: it is VERYsteep, and VERY hard. I would instead suggest a circuit around NicholsCove, Yellowhammer Gap and Ike Branch.


North Fork Citico


Quality:
Difficulty: Moderate
Roundtrip: < 10.5 miles

SE TN, HWY 68 from Sweetwater & I-75south to Tellico Plains, HWY 165 to Indian Boundary lake, left to lake,continue to Citico, trailhead on right at trail 105 sign

I just kind of like this trail. It's about 5 and a half miles,but it is entirely an interior trail, so you have to hike just over halfa mile on the South Fork Citico trail just to get to it (take the leftfork just past the old stone building after entering the wilderness, andcross the bridge), and when you reach the end...if you reach the end, you'restill just intersecting the Fodderstack trail. But it's nice because itmeanders along the north fork of Citico Creek, and there are a lot of nicepools and camp spots, and there aren't many people on the trail. Thereis a lot of evidence of the old logging railroad on this trail, which iskinda neat seeing the history of the wilderness occasionally snaking outfrom under a rock or half covered with decades of undisturbed leaves. Iwould just recommend this trail as an easy backpacking trip...it's justrelaxing. Of course, you can also use it as a good circuit down South Fork,Fodderstack, or Brush Mountain...just take a peek at your map.


South Fork Citico


Quality:
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Roundtrip: > 11 miles

SE TN, same trailhead as North Fork Citico

I haven't hiked this whole trail, but I have hiked the entire 5.5 miles that run mostly beside the river. The entire trail is 8 miles one way, but it pretty much leaves the river at about 5.5 miles in. This makes it an 11 mile river hike. This trail is nice because it also just meanders along theriver. It crosses the river a few times, but it's not too deep, so it'susually not a problem. About 3.5 miles down the trail, it cuts away fromthe creek and heads uphill into a lot of briars...no big deal, though.When it meets back with the creek about a mile later, the creek is quitea bit smaller, and more like a stream. But it's still a pleasant walk,and you can use the trail to circuit around Jeffrey Hell or Grassy Branch.I did both one 98 degree summer day...that was a BAD idea!


Bald River


Quality:
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Distance: 11 miles

SE TN, HWY 68 south from Sweetwater & I-75,HWY 165 in Tellico Plains (follow signs to Cherokee National Forest), forkright onto Tellico River Rd (follow the signs to Bald River Falls), you'llknow it when you see the falls on your right, park across bridge

This, for some reason is one of my favorite river trails. Of course,there is probably a very good reason for it, and you can readabout it if you want. Anyway, you can enjoy Bald River Falls at the head of thetrail, and then head up to the top along the trail. You'll come to a picnicarea at the top, and then the trail (I promise) is at the back of the picnicarea and a little up the ridge. The trail is about 5.5 miles long, andit ends at the Holly Flats campground, which, I might add, is in the middleof nowhere. The river is pretty big along the length of the trail, andmost of the time is spent meandering along the water. Don't miss a nicerock outcrop to the right after you climb to the top of the first mountain.It is the first time you leave the river...it's a nice view of the ridges.There is a good camping spot at a small cave about a mile in. There is a forkabout 2 miles in, the left of which goes back to the road about a milefrom the trailhead, the right continues along the river. This is just apleasant, usually abandoned trail. It is a really nice hike, and maybemy story has done it more justice.

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