Twin Creeks Trail is, all things considered, a lower-tier hiking option in Great Smoky Mountains National Park: It doesn’t deliver stunning mountain views, old-growth cove forest, waterfalls, or the other showstopper attractions that many other routes in the park do. But—given its easy access from Gatlinburg and relatively short length—it may be a practical choice for those with limited time, and for those with kids in tow, as long as said youngsters can handle its mild ruggedness (in the form of creek crossings, overgrowth, and frequent deadfall, not hard grades). And it’s not as if it’s without natural beauty: This is Smoky Mountain country, after all!
The roughly 4.5-mile round-trip trail shadows Cherokee Orchard Road the entire way. Its northern trailhead lies near the park boundary right on the edge of Gatlinburg; the southern end links with the Noah “Bud” Ogle Place Nature Trail, which is definitely worth incorporating into your hike whichever end you start from.
The forest here is recovering from a wildfire and there’s a decent chance you’ll run into some downed trees on the trail. More than one creek crossing is involved, which depending on the season and recent weather can be straightforward or take a bit of mild acrobatics. (Some crossings have bridges, while others are rock-hopping or log-traversing affairs.)
Keep in mind you’ll be dealing with some car noise given the proximity of Cherokee Orchard Road, and spring and summer mosquitoes can be an issue. Recent rains can also make this lowland trailbed quite muddy. Furthermore, there’s no shortage of poison ivy along the path, including hugging or arcing over it, so know how to recognize this rash-inducing plant (and consider carrying Tecnu or a similar ointment).
Despite the proximity to Gatlinburg and to the road, black bears are a reasonably common sight along Twin Creeks Trail. That shouldn’t be a deterrent—bears are highly unlikely to mess with people and will almost assuredly simply go about their business as long as they don’t feel threatened or harassed, plus they’re thrilling to see in the wild—but just exercise basic common sense and caution.
As along many a Smoky Mountain path, you’ll see evidence of old homesteading along Twin Creeks Trail, including a foundation and wall ruins.
Whether at the beginning or end of our hike or at the turnaround point, definitely consider walking the Noah “Bud” Ogle Place Nature Trail, which gives you up-close looks at better-preserved historical structures. This short and easy self-guided path shows off the Ogle homestead, including a handsome log cabin, a barn, and a gristmill—cool stuff!
If you only have one trail to hike in the Great Smokies, Twin Creeks should not be your choice, but it’s definitely an accessible adventure out of Gatlinburg, and you’ll often find it surprisingly lightly trafficked despite its location.
-If you’re hiking out of the Gatlinburg end of Twin Creeks Trail, be aware the parking at the trailhead is very limited. Another option is to park at Mynatt Park and walk (carefully) a short way to the start of the trail.