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Smith Creek Trail
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 4.6 miles Type of trail: Point to Point
County: White County, GA Our rating: Moderate
Features: stream Your rating:
Usage: Added on: January 01, 1995
Last hiked: July 04, 1998 Updated on: February 05, 2009
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Hiking trails in White County, GA

Directions to Smith Creek Trail

This trail offers a serene walk through dense patches of rhododendron, mountain laurel, hemlock, and ferns. It travels up and over Hickory Nut Ridge and Smith Mountain through impressive hardwood stands and several small mountain brooks and springs. The trail begins at Anna Ruby Falls.

Doppled sunlight breaks through the trees near the start of the Smith Creek Trail
Smith Creek begins at the confluence of Curtis and York Creeks. These creeks are formed near the top of Tray Mountain, and approach the eastern continental divide. On one side of the divide, all rivers flow to the Mississippi, on the other side all rivers flow to the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. Smith Creek ambles from Anna Ruby Falls to Lake Unicoi, then continues south to the Chattahoochee River, where it doubles the size of the watershed when it joins that river.

The trail parallels, but does not run beside, the creek from Anna Ruby Falls to Unicoi Park. It is significantly easier taken from the falls to the park. After hiking the paved 0.4 mile Anna Ruby Falls Trail, the trailhead is on the right and is well marked. This trail is well traveled, considering its length, and improved. Many of the steep sections have been staired. This footpath begins by climbing to the ridge of Smith Mountain. Unlike other high ridge trails such as the Arkaquah, this trail is frequently crossed by small streams that pose no particular problem crossing, even in the spring. The footpath initially passes through cove hardwoods that are interspersed with mountain laurel and rhododendron. These two similar bushes tend to segregate into groups and take over specific areas. When rhododendron occupy an area it is called a "laurel hell", and when laurel takes over it is called a "rhododendron hell." During the late spring and summer months many of the best views are obstructed by natural growth.

A boulderfield formed during the Pleistocene period about 20,000 years ago marks the midway point of the trail. Moss-covered rocks in the field are frequently hazardous, but are a lovely setting for photographs. The boulderfield is unusual because these rarely form below 3200 feet in north Georgia.

Now walking along Hickory Nut ridge the trail crests near a dirt road visible to the south and east. Between November and early April Stomp Creek Falls is visible to the northwest on the ridge. From this highpoint the trail enters a set of switchbacks that moderately descends through a steep slope to Unicoi State Park.

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