Monday, May 30, 2011

Citico Creek Wilderness Area

North Fork Citico Creek Trail #98 5.45
Cold Springs Gap Trail #149 3.2 Miles
South Fork Citico Creek Trail #105 8.5 Miles
Total Miles: 17.15

Trying to avoid Memorial Day crowds, we picked the Citico Creek Wilderness Area to hike in. We wanted creeks to keep cool in and it is somewhat close to the house. We have never been in this area.

After work I headed home and picked up Lora. We headed out and was on the trail a little after noon. Lots of people on the Cherohala Skyway and in Tellico. Even lots of people in the Indian Boundary area, but after a mile on the trail we had the mountains all to ourselves.

We used the trail description from "Wilderness Trails of the Cherokee National Forest" by Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock, and Haw Knob. Yes, you need trail description for all trails in the Cherokee National Forest because the trails are not blazed. There is a sign post at the trail intersections.

We parked at the #105 trailhead and hiked the .97 miles to the North Fork Citico Creek Trail. This trail follows the creek to the Cherry Log Gap of the Unicoi Mountains. It's a very pretty trail and you have many creek crossings, water falls, and cascades. We stopped at a forty foot water fall to take a break and cool down in the creek.

We took the Cold Springs Gap Trail #149 across to the South Fork Citico Creek Trail. This is an old road bed which was overgrown a bit. It cleared up a little bit when you get to the Benton MacKaye section. One section worked us over with the Stinging Nettles which burned our legs. Later, on the trail as the wildflowers and undergrowth was knee high, Lora screamed out "Jesus!" I looked up to see the glory as I myself have never seen him in person. With out seeing anything I looked down at a rabbit who had obviously never seen Jesus himself as he was looking up as well. Oh, I guess the rabbit must have scared Lora.

We hiked to the South Fork Citico Creek Trail #105. It descended quite steeply down the mountain side. I showed Lora a couple of advanced sliding moves including the hooking one leg on tree as you butt slide by it. Nothing really for an old pro.

When we got to the first flat area by the creek we made camp. It was 1.5 miles down. We got to watch the fireflies as we sat next to the campfire. The stars were out so we got to watch then all night.

We got up the next morning to another beautiful day. We had a rabbit in camp pulling up ferns and eating the roots. Lora didn't yell a name at him.

There was one place on the trail that was heavily overgrown with wild grape vines and blackberry bushes. It did have some good views here when you could see. We climbed the rest of the way down the mountain to the creek and took an afternoon swim. There were more creek crossings, waterfalls, and cascades. It is a beautiful place to hike.

After we got off the trail we explored the campground across the creek and the campground by the lake at Indian Boundary. It's a nice area. On the way out we stopped by Bald River Falls to check it out.



  1. Thanks for posting this trip. I was looking at Citico images on google when I saw your link and enjoyed reading about all the familiar landmarks: Old Goat Falls, the exact place where those stinging nettles are and they hurt!, and that place on the South Fork that is heavily overgrown, rocky, and hard to get thru. While you guys were out in the Citico during Memorial Day, I was sweating in the Big Frog/Cohutta---hot and dry.
    Tipi Walter

  2. We have hiked extensively in the Citico. It is a wonderful and beautiful place and we saw no one past the campground (which is sketchy at best) about a mile in. First trip we took the same route you did. Second trip, we went in Jeffrey Hell to S fork Citico (went up where you came down) to Cold Springs to Brush Mtn. I wanted to see Ike's Peak at Brush Mountain (a trail that hasn't seen human feet in a LONG time). The nettles were not pleasant, I came out with my legs looking like the trail map, but it was worth it. I would not recommend hiking Brush Mtn in anything other than colder weather when the foliage is off the trees. We barely navigated it in November. It's worth it to wake up on Ike's Peak and watch the sunrise. There is no water up there, so you need to take extra. I took my fly rod the first trip in June and while the fish are abounding - they laughed at my fly as it floated past them.