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Hike: Horace Kephart’s Smokies

October 24 @ 9:30 AM - 3:30 PM


“The richness of the Great Smoky forest has been the wonder and admiration of everyone who has traversed it.”
– Horace Kephart, Our Southern Highlanders

On Saturday, October 24, the Western North Carolina Historical Association and UNC Asheville historian Dan Pierce will lead a guided hike of an area in the Smokies frequently traversed by Kephart.

Join us as we hike 4.5 miles around the Deep Creek Loop Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This hike, with four interpretive stops, will take approximately four hours. We will learn about this area’s natural diversity and cultural history before examining the life and legacy of Horace Kephart as it intersected with the people and environment around Deep Creek. We will also admire the park’s changing colors as fall leaves hit their peaks. We will conclude our excursion travelling back to our cars at the Bryson City Cemetery, where Kephart is buried overlooking the town and the mountains.

We will meet at 9:30am at the Bryson City Cemetery and park in the designated parking spaces. From there we ask that participants carpool to the degree they are comfortable as parking in the park will be tight. We will travel to the Deep Creek Trail Trailhead, hike, and stop briefly for lunch afterward at the Deep Creek Picnic Shelter. We will finally return to our cars and see Kephart’s burial location.

The Details
Date: Saturday, October 24, 2020 (rain or shine)
Time: 9:30am – 3:30pm
Location: Meet the group at Bryson City Cemetery (80 Hillside Dr, Bryson City, NC 28713) and Deep Creek Trailhead Parking (W Deep Creek Road, Bryson City, NC, Great Smoky Mountains National Park)
Cost: This hike is open only to WNCHA members. Tickets are available at the link below by donation. (Suggested $15-$25)
Registration: You must register at the link below
Difficulty: 4.5 miles, moderate (see below for more information on the terrain)
What to Bring: Plenty of water (min 32 oz.), an easy-to-eat lunch and/or trail snacks, weather appropriate hiking attire and boots/shoes, face mask (mandatory) and hand sanitizer (mandatory)

Note: The highest priority of this event is safety. Due to Covid-19, participants must agree to follow mandatory safety guidelines during this activity in order to participate. These precautions and practices are: making every reasonable effort to maintain social distancing of six feet, mandatory face mask usage when in vehicles with members outside of your household, when meeting at interpretive stops, and when you are unable to maintain at least six-feet of distance from other individuals, even non-participants. Participants must also sanitize their hands before the activity, before touching group items for the first time, and after touching or contacting external items or non-participants. WNCHA reserves the right to cancel the activity or refuse service to an individual if safety precautions are not heeded. Our group size is also limited to 25 individuals.

Terrain: Participants will follow a 4.6-mile loop trail in a heavily trafficked area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail is rated as easy to moderate, with 895 feet of elevation gain overall. The first mile of trail is flat and wide, running beside Deep Creek and intersecting with Tom Branch Falls.  The trail becomes narrower and hillier as hikers branch off to follow Indian Creek past Indian Creek Falls. The homeward half of the loop is much more remote as hikers leave the creek valleys for hardwood forest terrain. Just a short jaunt from the hike’s end, hikers will see the third and final waterfall, Juney Whank Falls. The trail has two distinct periods of elevation gain at 2 miles and at 4 miles. It is reportedly well maintained and marked with signage. Hikers should bring sturdy hiking shoes, plenty of water, hiking poles, and any other supplies they may need. Participants are advised not to attempt the hike if you are unsure of your stamina or ability.



October 24
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
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Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA)


Bryson City Cemetery
80 Hillside Drive
Bryson City, NC 28713 United States
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