Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

GSMNP: Middle Prong Trail and Falls

Thursday July 19, 2018                                                                                  Most Recent Posts:
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IMG_8430If you’ve been following along you’ll know that I’ve done two hikes in the Tremont area recently.  Today I’m back to Tremont Road to do the last hike in this area.  At least the last one for me. 

I’m up early so I can arrive at 7am after driving half an hour down to the Townsend Y entrance to the park and then to the end of the gravel Tremont Road where I find only one other car in the parking lot.  That could easily be an early morning fly fisherman.  They love the streams in the Smokies for trout fishing. 

The trail begins at the confluence of the Lynn Camp Prong and the Thunderhead Prong, at the point where the Middle Prong of the Little River officially begins.  As you can see from the sign, horses are welcome.

Just past the metal footbridge near the trailhead is the former site of a community known as Tremont. In its heyday the lumber camp consisted of a post office, hotel, a general store, maintenance sheds, and a community center that also served as a church, school, and movie theater.

Pretty sure this is the Lynn Camp Prong flowing toward and under the bridge as I cross over

Like many other trails in the Great Smokies that appear to be a gravel road, the Middle Prong Trail was actually a railroad bed that was used by the Little River Lumber Company to haul logs out of the area. After logging operations ceased within park boundaries, the Civilian Conservation Corps converted many of the old railroad beds into roads and trails.   I’m going beyond Panther Creek and almost to Greenbrier Ridge.


Middle Prong Trail is a quintessential Great Smoky Mountains river hike.  It rises gently along the Lynn Camp Prong where the water is almost never out of hearing and seldom out of sight.

Isn’t this just a fairy tale trail with the wall of rhododendron on the right.  A few weeks ago it would have been in full bloom.

At less than half a mile I come to the Lower Lynn Camp Falls which pour down a long sloping rock slide..  It’s a tall multi tiered falls that is very impressive though the falls are set back and partially concealed.  It is difficult to get good pictures from the trail through the trees.


Great viewing spot from the bench but the camera just can’t give you the majesty that you experience seeing and listening to Lower Lynn Camp Falls.


This is the bottom tier through the trees.   I pass up the possibility of carefully descending to the bottom for better shots look up thinking perhaps I’ll do that on the way back.   It’s a long way down with no clear path and I’m loath to damage the environment and create erosion possibilities.


Instead I opt to go around the side on the rocks themselves which will not be bothered by my footsteps.  Note that the rocks I’m on are dry.  Wet rocks are way too dangerous.

From here I can look down on a couple of the tiers dropping down the slide.


I’m on the side of the top tier at this point.  It really is magnificient.  If you’d like to see and hear it in motion, click this link for a short video.

Back on the trail, the music continues.  I’m still right beside it.

Soon I move up for a view from at least somewhat above the water rushing to the falls.


This, I think, is what is known as Lynn Camp Falls as opposed to Lower Lynn Camp Falls.  It too is a series of cascades but rather than flowing over a rock face, they run down the river.





From this viewing bench, I can easily see both the cascade above and the one beneath it shown in the picture below.   They are not so easily seen around the tree trunks in the picture but it does record the setting



I don’t remember this small fall just along the trail being mentioned in anything I read.  It’s a sweet surprise.


If this was a road at any time, I have no idea how anything with wheels would manage.  Even the foot bridge is rugged.




At 2.3 miles, I reach the junction with Panther Creek Trail on my left. I take a look and see that there is no bridge and you’ll have to make a wet water crossing over Lynn Camp Prong if you want to go that direction.  Better have hiking poles or a horse.

I continue straight on the main trail.


The trail progresses with rhododendron growing along the edges and dropping petals on the trail.  The blooms are at the end of their peak but there are still lovely ones along the way.  The grade steadily increases as the trail makes several sharp left-hand switchbacks followed by a right-hand switchback



There are some but few signs of the many homes that were here in the mountains before removal.  The last time I was here, this chimney was standing erect.  But there is no sign of the home to which it once belonged.

At 3.5 miles this bridge crosses the Indian Flats Prong and begins to climb more steadily.  I know at this point I’m getting close.


In slightly less than another half mile, I come up to what was once a turn around and is now where the trail turns hard to the left.  I know to look on the right for the nearly hidden spur trail that leads to Indian Flats Falls.


Certainly not an obvious spur but you can hear the falls if you listen.


The spur trail is dense and on the rough side with blow downs.  It’s a narrow path right on the edge of the mountain.  I take it slowly and carefully



After I come down this rock slab, I turn around to get this picture.  I think going back up and out will be easier.


When I step down onto the flat near the falls I do the same thing, I look back.  Going up will be easier than coming down.  It has helped on this spur to be short and not have to bend over so far to avoid the over growth.


When I am able to look up and ahead of me I am greeted with the lovely sight of  Indian Flats Falls.

Indian Flats Falls includes four separate scenic drops. However, only the uppermost drop is easily accessible. From here I’d have to scramble over boulders and under rhododendron thickets in order to reach the additional drops, which is inadvisable even in the best weather. Not only will doing so risk my own safety, but I’d also unnecessarily damage the vegetation and soil along the creek bank.

In total, the waterfall drops roughly 60 feet in three separate tiers, with the top tier dropping roughly 20 feet. The middle tier is located near the end of the spur trail. 

I can get to a position where I can take this shot over the ledge to the middle tier going down stream. But I can’t find a position where I can look downstream to see the lower tier. 


Check out this video to hear the falls and get a much better idea of the lay of the land.

It’s a lovely spot and I sit myself down on a rock and stay for a while.  I’ve come nearly 4 and a quarter miles up a beautiful trail and this is a fitting view to celebrate how lucky I am to be able to do such things and that we all are to have such places to enjoy.  My gratitude for it all is enormous.

On the way back, the trail is just as wonderful, the prong just as delightful and as always I see things I missed on my way up like the leaves of this Wake Robin, giant trillium.  I take this shot just to show how large the leaves are.  I’m sorry to be too late for the blooms, they are exceptional.


Right nearby I find one where the stem is apparently broken and the bloom got red but did not open.  The color is fabulous and the flower’s size is in keeping with the leaves.  Wish I’d been here earlier to see them.



Are there ever too many pictures of this beautiful Smoky Mountain waterway.?  The park is just filled with outstanding rivers and streams just like this one.


It’s just after 11am when I meet these riders coming up the trail.  They’ve left their horse trailer in the parking lot.


I pass several small gatherings like this at my feet.  They definitely blend right in.


Not so for this Orange Fritillary who stands out against the gray rocks of the trail.


A Slightly better view with different light gives a better picture of the unnamed falls at about the two mile point.  This trail has several falls and even more cascades.

No post of a trail in Great Smoky Mountains National park would be complete without at least one fungi picture.  This was my favorite today.



One last reminder that while the trail is gravel and on an old road bed at a reasonable grade MOST of the time.  It’s not all smooth easy going.


But it is all beautiful and one of my favorite hikes in the park., all 8.29 miles and 21891 steps of it.   This is the closest thing I saw to an otter today.  At least it looks like one to me.



  1. Some really nice falls there:) I wonder if reading about you hikes count as hikes for me:)))

  2. I was just thinking how nice and smooth and wide your trail was till I got to the end. Of course. Still a really gorgeous hike, I could get into this one for sure. The falls are all just beautiful. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

  3. Lots of water and falls...just beautiful!!! I believe the sound of the running water will be the memory of The Smokies that stays with me.....WONDERFUL!!!

  4. Beautiful hike. Thanks for the photos...it's the closest I'll ever get!

  5. I thought I was the only one that considered flowing streams of water as nature's music. Glad to know I'm not alone. :c)

    1. With all the rain this summer in The Smoky Mountains...it was like a symphony...absolutely spectacular!!!

  6. Hiking by streams or waterfalls is always my favorite. There's something so soothing about the sound of moving water—it really is forest music. :-) I would love to see those giant trillium in bloom! Seeing your hand on the leaf provides good perspective for just how giant they are.

  7. Flowing water is so relaxing to hear. Love all the pictures.

  8. That gathering on your feet that you saw was a lot better and sanitary to gawk at :) unlike what I have witnessed in Idaho. Just like you Sherry, I am always in constant gratitude to be able to see beautiful areas and places to see and just the sound of a waterfall brought a smile on our faces.

  9. Haven't had much time, lately, but thought I'd stop it to see what the "energizer bunny" was doing in my absence. Beautiful hike. Hopefully more time--going between two houses and my back has eaten up my time, lately. Hi to David.

  10. I love the many tiers of the different falls and cascades. There's such character in the interaction of the water and rocks. I'm sure you pass occasional other hikers, but I always feel like it's just the two of us. So peaceful. I hope David is doing well, please give him my best.

  11. There is nothing better on a mountain hike than waterfalls! What a hike. Your descriptions always make me want to be there, but none more than this one. I had already watched the videos. I have to get back to these mountains. Thank you for sharing.

  12. I SO love this hiking with the sound of water, and falls. In the video that tiny spurting falls is adorable. Once again, thanks for taking us along.

  13. Beautiful pictures and falls. Looks like a great hike! Thanks for taking us along!


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