November 14, 2022
Either way you choose to hike Springhouse Branch Trail, it is uphill. From campsite #64 the elevation gain is over 1,500 ft, and from campsite #71 the gain is almost 2,000 ft. It is steep until Rough-hew Ridge/Board Camp Gap.
The trail itself is very wonderful and a challenging loop from the Road to Nowhere. Starting near Noland Creek, we hiked up the trail for 4.1 miles to campsite #64. This only took 1 hour as the trail is nearly level and wide. From #64, the trail starts Springhouse with some strenuous hiking for 2.8 miles until Board Camp Gap. The 1932 Decisions of the United States Geographic Board notes the designation and that the Board Camp Greek flows into Forney Creek but does not note the genesis of the name. Johnny Malloy’s 1996 book, Trial by Trail: Backpacking in the Smoky Mountains notes that the name stems from “an old cabin, made from rough-hewn boards, that once stood [t]here”.
From Board Camp Gap, the trail descended nicely, the sun shone in my face and the last of the fall leaves were freshly strewn upon the ground. The descent was stark at times, and I remarked more than once that I was happy of the route that we chose. Bee Gum Branch provided a nice background noise for half the hike and soon Forney Creek Trail emerged. From there, it is a short hike to Whiteoak Branch Trail, an unremarkable trail that connects Lakeshore and Forney.
I highly recommend Springhouse Branch; you won’t be disappointed.
Total mileage is 16.1 miles.