Waterfalls on this hike: Rock Slab Falls, Steeltrap Creek Falls & Bear Creek Falls
Note: these three waterfalls are normally done as two individual hikes. Rock Slab and Steeltrap Creek Falls are done from Klingman’s Dome as an our and back. Bear Creek Falls is done also as an out and back starting at the Road to Nowhere in Bryson City. If you do them as we did, as a shuttle hike, it borders on 19 miles. As the hike starts at the 6600 foot elevation and ends at 1600 feet, it isn’t long into the hike where there really is no turning back unless you relish an unrelenting uphill hike.
430 a.m. – The day began about 5 hours after I got to sleep and the moment I woke up I knew it was a good thing I had arranged to meet my friend Amanda to hike. The way my body hurt after the Complete and Unabridged Toxaway River hike the day before, if I had a solo hike planned I would have been, “Hell no.” and gone back to bed.
700 a.m. – I arrived at the Exxon Station in Bryson City where we had chosen to meet. Since this is a shuttle hike we had to work out the logistics of making sure we had a car waiting at the end point. It was a good place to meet up since we were able to load up on snacks for the upcoming adventure.
720 a.m. – We arrived at the Road to Nowhere Trailhead. The name comes from the 0.25 tunnel that was built in the 1940s as part of a road project to connect Bryson City to the far side of the recently created Fontana Lake. After building the tunnel the federal government part of the project fizzled out and the project died, leaving this unique trail feature.
810 a.m.We arrived at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where we stopped to act the tourist and take some pictures posing in front of the sign.
8:14 a.m. A second acting the tourist moment presented itself as we rolled up on a heard of elk grazing in a field next o US441. A few pictures seemed an order.
824 a.m. Off to Kilngman’s Dome. Okay, not yet. We made one more stop so Amanda could snap a few pics of Cliff Branch Falls since it was on the way.
845 a.m. Klingman’s Dome parking area. – An hour and 45 minutes after meeting up we had finally reached the trailhead for our epic adventure. Amanda’s car was 18.8 miles away.