Hiking Vickery Creek Trail – Roswell, GA

Vickery Creek has everything I was looking for in a urban trail hike.

  • Easy to access
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Hills/Elevation
  • Historic aspect

I was excited to spend my first evening hike at Vickery Creek Trail. Waterfalls? Covered Bridge? History? All this and then some.

I actually started my hike at one of the most picturesque spots. At first I had intended on hiking up to the Falls and Covered Bridge but I am glad I both started AND ended there.

Here is a link to the official trail map.

After descending down a concrete path from the Roswell Mills parking lot, you can go left to check out the historic mill buildings or right onto the trail via the covered bridge. I chose the latter.

The covered bridge is newer and you can read more about it and Old Mill Park and Roswell Mill ruins here.

The bridge has an amazing view of the rushing rapids below.

One last look at the bridge and I started up the concrete stairs to join the path at the VC15 marker. I followed the trail leading up to a ridge above the water which takes you to the Falls (VC19).

Once I got to the falls, there are signs posted to stay off the dam but on both sides of the water, there are areas to scramble a bit down on the rocks. I didn’t have too much of an issue, but the rocks weren’t too slippery.

Remember to leave no trace or shoe behind

After spending a few minutes at the falls, I continued my hike.

That Georgia red clay…

If you stare long enough, you see things

Coming back from doing part of the inland trails, I came back down across the bridge and to the ruins side of the creek. There are lots of signage that gives you a historical perspective and background of the Mill and how it impacted the local community through the years.

Educational signage posted along the path

Broad concrete paths and wooden overlooks make this a more accessible option for people who are unable to hike or prefer not to have such a rugged trek.

The path takes you through some of the ruins.

There are also spots where observers can scramble a bit down the rocks to get closer to the edge of the creek and falls. After four miles on the trail, I decided to stay put on one of overlooks.

What I loved about Vickery Creek trail is that anyone can enjoy the falls as there are wheelchair accessible paths. If you just want to come for the view, you can do that. If you want to get your heart rate up with a run on the hills, you can do that too. Learn about history and marvel at the power that was harnessed by the rushing water falling beside you.

The surrounding area has plenty of shops and places to grab dinner after you’ve worked up that appetite.

Don’t forget to hydrate, wear trail appropriate shoes, apply bug spray and bring a camera.

Kephart Prong Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains

(Article originally published in the Fall Issue of Hike Magazine. Order here)

Kephart Prong trail isn’t one you’ll commonly hear about when hiking in the Smokies. It doesn’t have ridgeline views or waterfalls to speak of, but it’s not lacking in beauty and historical features. It’s a shorter hike that’s easy to moderate which allows for a nice add on hike after you’ve done something challenging such as Chimney Tops or Mt. LeConte.

The hike starts by crossing a bridge over the Oconaluftee River. Take a moment to listen to the water as it rushes over the rocks strewn in the riverbed. The trail follows the Kephart Prong from where it meets with the Oconaluftee River to the Appalachian Trail. If the Kephart names sounds familiar, its because it was named after writer and park advocate Horace Kephart.

At .2 miles, the trail takes you through the remains of a Civilian Conservation Corp camp so you’ll see relics and artifacts such as a water fountain, fireplace and old rock frame for the camp signage. The camp was one of a few in the Smokies which held conscientious objectors during World War II.

A favorite part about hiking this trail is all the water crossings over the footlogs and bridges.

You’ll cross four as you make your ascent up to the termination point of the trail which is Kephart Shelter. One of them bears the mossy stonework from the CCC construction from over 80 years ago.

What I noticed about this particular hike is how green and lush everything was during the summertime. Also it’s one of the quieter hikes in the park, and you won’t find it as crowded as other trails. Some hikers use this trail as the start of an alternative route to Charlie’s Bunion so it avoids the throngs who take the more popular route from Newfound Gap.

The trail follows an old railway and the grade is moderate. Be on the lookout for some old railway irons during the final .2 miles of the hike. These are remnants from the logging that was done in the 1920s.

At 2.1 miles you will the reach the Kephart Shelter where the trail ends and intersects with the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail and the Grassy Branch Trail. Take some time to explore the shelter before retracing your steps back to the Kephart Prong trailhead, making for a nice 4.2 mile hike.

This hike combines historic features, streams and a gentle grade which makes it a nice introductory hike for someone new to being on the trail or who might not be up for a more strenuous hiking experience. So if you’re up for some exploring a bit of Smokies history, consider taking this lesser known trail next time you head to the park.

To learn more about the CCC’s time in the park, listen to my Hike podcast.