- Distance: 7.2 miles RT
- Elevation Gain: 1430′
- Difficulty: Moderate
Turn right on Greenbriar Road at Park Entrance sign off US Hwy 321 5.9 miles east of Gatlinburg. Continue on Greenbriar Road 4.1 miles to end of loop. Look for trail and trail marker.
PORTERS CREEK TRAIL
The gravel roadbed ascends to the historic site, John Messer’s Barn built in 1875. The barn is located just off the trail to the right. At the turn of the 20th century, 26 families lived in this protected, fertile valley. Evidence of those families is scattered along side the first mile of the trail. Rock walls go in all directions marking where driveways and houses have once stood.
This first mile is fairly easy road walking that most anyone is fit enough to enjoy. It is known for its wildflowers in the spring and summer. Read more about the rich history of this little valley and the Whaley family.
- Smoky Mtn. Hiking Club Tapes
- The Whaleys of Greenbriar
- The Whaleys of Greenbriar Blog Posts
So, continuing on at the end of the first mile, Porter’s Creek Trail goes to the left and Brushy Mtn. Trail ascends from the center of the road loop.
Walk another .6 mile to Porter’s Creek crossing. A log bridge is nestled into concrete foundations perched on holders in the creek. It is a little scary and had ice on it our first time there.
After you cross the creek, the trail meanders through the woods close to the creek all the way to the backcountry campsite #31. There are huge trees in the forest. Because if was so heavily settled, it kept the logging companies from clear cutting the trees. The families selectively cut what they needed. You will see some oaks that are possibly over 200 years old. Several enormous chestnut tree caucuses little the trail.
At the 3.6 mile mark, the trail ends, and the backcountry campsite itself is the destination. You have climbed over 1400′ in elevation, so it is a bit of a workout to get there. However, the rise of the trail is gradual and there are no steep places. There are 3 fire pits and a couple of bear food storage systems in the trees. It is nice and level and the tent pads are actually padded with moss. Nice remote campsite that doesn’t seem to get a lot of traffic.
The creek is just yards away and the ridges rise up all around you. You can see Charlie’s Bunion from the campsite. It is very well protected from the wind. From here, the only direction is back out the way you came. The soft gentle slope of the trail makes your trip back a lot faster. We were surprised how fast we got back to the car.