January 3, 2016
We went out of town for eleven days over Christmas, and I was very excited to get out in the woods again. Most of the time, society makes no sense to me. In the woods, everything makes sense. There’s peacefulness in the landscape and wilderness.
I started early at Deep Creek Campground. The Indian Creek Trail is a broad, forest service style road running along Indian Creek. The first .07 miles are slightly uphill, but not particularly difficult. At the juncture with Deep Creek Trail, I headed west on Indian Creek. For the next 3.7 miles the trail is fairly level and wide, running next to the creek.
At the end of this trail I came across backcountry campsite #46, Estes Branch. Walking around, the campsite is not that level, although there are two level tent sites above the bear bag lines. This would be a neat campsite, for people looking for an easy to hike camping spot in the Smoky’s.
The highlight of the day was Martins Gap Trail. The trail runs up the Sunkota Ridge for 1.5 miles, and then descends 1.5 miles to Deep Creek and the end of the trail. I made pretty good time up the trail through the series of switchbacks. After passing Sunkota Ridge Trail the trail descends rather steeply. Almost at Deep Creek, I came across a neat, little cove with a bridge and creek nestled in the mountain. At the end of Martins Gap is campsite #57, Bryson Place.
I quickly made my way back to Indian Creek, but this time, I took the Deep Low Gap Trail for .4 miles to connect with Indian Creek Motor Trail. This trail is very wide, but also somewhat steep, as it rises to the Thomas Divide Trail. I hiked downhill on Thomas Divide for 2.1 miles and then picked up Stone Pile Gap Trail, a quick .9 mile connector back to Indian Creek Trail.
Hiking in winter is very enjoyable, no bugs, no snakes, fewer people, and the views extend for miles.
Total mileage is 17.8 miles.