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Fern Branch falls is a magnificent way to enjoy the beauty of the great smoky mountains!
Fern Branch Falls stand majestically above the trees as its waters flow peacefully into the valley of the Greenbriar Community inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These beautiful falls are the perfect way to enjoy a full day of relaxation. Bring a picnic! It's an easy two mile walk one way, however, by the time you arrive you'll most likely be hungry!
The Falls are located in the Greenbriar Community off Highway 321 just east of Gatlinburg. After entering Greenbriar, drive about 4 miles. There's a sign reading "Porters Creek Trail" (which is the hike you take to get to the falls.) There's a sizable parking area nearby as well. The map below shows Porter's Creek Trailhead.
The hike round trip is just under 4 miles. The best time to go is in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom. The colors are spectacular! Hike the month of April to see fields of trillium, and phacelia. It's fun to explore the different kinds of lovely flowers you see growing throughout the hike! As with all Smoky Mountains trails, beware of the black bear! They can best be seen early in the mornings, or around dusk. If you happen to spot one, use caution!
Porter's Creek Trail has been rightfully named for its hundreds, (maybe thousands) of beautiful ferns growing along each side. The walk along the gravel road echos the sound of rushing waters. There are two bridges, one of which is a lovely mountain bridge. The other one is a bit intimidating. This bridge is very narrow with only one railing. As you cross, the rushing waters move violently under your feet. There's lots of history along the way including the old Ownby Cemetery, an old historical homestead, and a hiking club cabin of years ago.
Just before completing the two miles, you see the waterfall on the left. The view is magnificent! The falls stand around 40 feet tall! There's lovely plants, trees, and flowers all around. While sitting below these spectacular cascading waters, you can relax, or enjoy eating lunch!