View Full Version : Road-to-Nowhere in 6 Days

04-22-2012, 04:58 PM
My brother and I have just returned from our annual spring fly fishing trip. I wanted to share a few stories and photos from our trip I hope you enjoy.

We started our trip on Saturday April 14th, with plans to meet in Bryson City for the night. After checking in at the Sleep Inn Hotel we drove to the end of the Road-to-Nowhere and dropped one of the vehicles off for our return trip. On the way back we stopped at Jimmy Macs for an Elk burger and desert.

Early Sunday morning we gathered our gear and headed up to Clingmans Dome for our departure on the Forney Ridge Trailhead.


It was impressive with all the trail work that has been completed on the first part of Forney Ridge trail. It did not take long before we were on the Forney Creek Trail and passing the first CS 68. We soon learned that there are two CS 68 locations with the second being closed for “Aggressive Bear Activity”. This is the first time I have ever seen two sites both posted with the same campsite number.

Continuing down the trail we made great time getting to our first night’s stay at CS 69. We wasted no time in getting our camp setup in hopes of having plenty of time to do some fishing.


With the second half of the day still left we hurried to get our fly rods setup and started fishing above CS 69. You can see that the stream is small but with plunge pool after plunge pool. We would take turns leadings and once the lead person caught a fish we would switch places. We mostly used 16 Simulators or Parachute Adams during the first days fishing. The fishing was great with plenty of rainbows brought to hand and two to three times that many missed. We did not catch any Brook trout around CS 69.


Monday morning we planned to hike down to CS 70 and spend the entire day fishing back to CS 69. In this picture you can see the foot bridge that takes you to CS 70. The stream size was closer to our liking for the two of us and the rainbows along this section of the stream were very aggressive and fought hard. We mostly used a larger Simulator or Never Sink Dry Fly with a smaller Prince Nymph, Pheasant Tail or Hairs Ear dropper. Another great weather day and fish numbers were some of our best.


This picture shows the average size of the rainbows that we were catching. The surprising thing was how strong these fish are.


Tuesday we had planned to take a slow morning packing up camp with a long breakfast break and then hiking downstream to CS 71. Reviewing our map we check the locations of the three creek crossings that we crossed the day before during our fishing trip. This picture shows our first crossing with all our gear.


Here you can see CS 71 with the well-known Chimney stack. In the left hand side of the picture you might be able to see our camp setup in the background. We only fished a couple hours upstream Tuesday and we both landed about four or five rainbows. Again we used the Dry Fly Dropper combination.


Wednesday we had plans to fish the entire day upstream. Tuesday night and almost the entire day Wednesday we had rain. With all the rain we had received we ended up having a slow start but at about noon we decided to go ahead and fish upstream even though it was still raining. We changed our fly fishing setup to using double bead nymphs with an indicator. We held close to the edges and looked for the slower eddies to fish during the rain. We were amazed that we continued to catch fish all day even though it never quite raining until late that evening.

At about 6:00PM we were about half way upstream from CS 71 to CS 70. It started getting late so we looked for a safe place to cross the stream because of all the heavy rains. Once we got to the trail side of the creek to our surprise we saw two people jumping up and down screaming and yelling at us from the trail. We walked to the trail and meet a young man and lady that had flown in from Florida the day before and had just gotten married. Earlier that morning around 11:00AM they had went on a hiking trip at the Road-to-Nowhere. They told us they had gotten lost all day in the rain. They were wearing short sleeve tee shirts, blue jeans and tennis shoes. The young man told us he had 1 bar cell service at the top of the trail and had been talking to 911 trying to get someone to rescue them but did not know where they were. We all hiked back to the top of the trail and the young man called 911 again and we told them we would be at CS 71. Once at CS 71 we gave them dry clothes made them some hot coffee and waited for the forestry service to come. At about 8:20PM a Forestry service man made it to CS 71 and escorted them out. What a day Wednesday had been.


This picture shows an old road bed upstream from CS 71 on the opposite side of Forney Creek. This road bed went for a long ways upstream and it was impressive with all the hard work that went into this road that is not in use anymore and almost completely overgrown.


04-22-2012, 05:04 PM
Thursday the weather had cleared and we had plans to hike downstream and spend the day fishing back up to CS 71. The picture shows a section where the trail comes close to Forney. We had a great time fishing this section but once we made it to the “Gorge” area the creek split many times with lots of small islands. This section to us was not worth the efforts.


The section below CS 71 was the only place we caught any brown trout during our trip. Here is the average Brown Trout that we caught.


Friday morning we started our trip out and once we made it to the Tunnel all I could think about was a milkshake and hamburger.


Thanks for letting us share a small part of a wonderful adventure in the GSMNP with my brother.

04-22-2012, 06:09 PM
An important part of the story that William excluded was that Jeff, the young guy that was lost, was mad as a fire cracker. He would repeat again and again that he was really upset and surprised that everywhere he went he could not find a single exit sign anywhere. At that point, I was wondering if it was a a gag but they were too worried. It gets even better...when the Ranger arrived. He reviewed the scene. He looked at the two lost people who were wearing soaked blue jeans, tennis shoes, and T-shirts. Then he looked at me with all my hiking and camping clothing. Lastly, he reviewed how obviously smart my brother was and promptly asked my brother William, "So, you must be Jeff." I couldn't contain my laughter. He was self evident to the ranger that the tender foot that got lost was William. So, when you read anything he types...keep that in mind!

04-22-2012, 06:37 PM
Thanks for sharing your trip and saving the young couple. Lets hope they will have a more successful marriage than hiking trip.

04-22-2012, 08:12 PM
Great report on your fishing trip !!! I'm truly envious but it's great that you take the opportunities to be with your brother and share this experience. Again, thanks for posting this trip with such good pics and the review.


04-22-2012, 10:36 PM
Great report, and thanks for sharing. Kudos on helping rescue a couple that obviously had no business being out there.

I hope the lost couple was not as arrogant as your posts sound. If they were, I don't know how you kept from giving them a little lesson on "nature" and preparedness.

04-23-2012, 08:26 AM
Amazing trip report.
Thanks for taking the time to share your story.

04-23-2012, 10:48 AM
Great story and pictures! Thanks for sharing!

04-23-2012, 04:05 PM
Looks like an awesome trip. I can't believe the lost hikers had cell service out there.

04-23-2012, 04:51 PM
He would repeat again and again that he was really upset and surprised that everywhere he went he could not find a single exit sign anywhere.

Priceless! I guess they were expecting to see one of those maps like they have in the mall with the "you are here" tag on it. :biggrin:

04-23-2012, 05:14 PM
Looks like a nice trip!

I have to say, I not only enjoy but also appreciate it when others post pics of their fishing adventures... I have only fished a handful of streams on the TN side so it's nice to actually get a chance to "see" other water that I haven't fished yet...

By the sound of your report, it looks like I will be focusing my efforts from #74 up to #71 when I head over to Forney... ;)

I can't believe the lost hikers had cell service out there.

MB was emailing me fishing reports from the backcountry on Noland Creek when he was there last week. I assume that he must have found mobile service out there somewhere in order to do so...

Tight Lines,

04-23-2012, 06:06 PM
We met you on the trail as you were coming out. Told some folks passing by about the Honeymooners, they got a kick out of that. "Where are the exit signs?"

04-23-2012, 08:27 PM
I really wish I could get out for a nice stretch of time like that:rolleyes:

I want to know was the guy mad before or after you offered to get the young lady out of her wet clothes:eek:

Just kidding - I bet you really saved thier ***.

Looks like you had a heck of a trip, and let me know if your still coming in late May and we'll get to that other section of stream you wanted to hit:biggrin:

04-23-2012, 08:38 PM
Awesome report, Mac. Thanks for taking the time to appreciate the surroundings and for helping the folks in distress. JF

04-24-2012, 11:05 AM
I hope the lost couple was not as arrogant as your posts sound. If they were, I don't know how you kept from giving them a little lesson on "nature" and preparedness.

I didn't take it as arrogant, it was all coming from fear from my opinion. It was too surreal for me and funny to give any lessons. I was mainly focusing on being helpful, calming, and not showing my astonishment.

04-24-2012, 11:08 AM
Looks like an awesome trip. I can't believe the lost hikers had cell service out there.

That was astonishing and surreal unto itself being five or six miles back.

04-24-2012, 11:18 AM
Wow, what a great trip! I am thinking of doing this trail in October. Have you ever taken Forney Ridge Trail all the way down to 71? I will have 4 days and 3 nights instead of 6&5 and want to be sure I won't be rushed to make miles.

Also do you guys use underquilts or are you still using sleeping pads? I bought a double layer hammock and would like to avoid the cost of an underquilt until I know I like it. Slipping my sleeping pad between the layers seems an ideal way to stay on top of it -- but in reading hammock forums a lot of the frequent posters seem to have an attitude of "only the underquilt" or you aren't comfortable.

MB was emailing me fishing reports from the backcountry on Noland Creek when he was there last week. I assume that he must have found mobile service out there somewhere in order to do so...
Tight Lines,

I can send 41 character messages for 10 cents each with my SPOT connect satellite device, but I actually had cellular reception on Noland, which is why I was also receiving your replies.

There are a lot of places in the back country that you can get service if you just walk up the nearest ridge. Above Elkmont seems to be the exception however, haven't been able to find service there at all.


04-25-2012, 01:37 PM
Great trip and pictures. My first backcountry trip in the smokies was on Forney. CS # 70. We were too young & stupid to put a car at the bottom. The walk back up wasn't fun. Did you fish Jonas Creek while you were there?

04-25-2012, 06:31 PM

Both Colby and I have always just used a mat for our hammocks. Seems to work just fine for spring to fall in the area for us. Weights less and costs less. :cool:

This was our first time on Forney so dont have any insight into any other ways in. Someone with more knowledge of the area might be able to provide better information.


We did look at Jonas and at the time it was looking really good even though we did not fish it. We never saw another fisherman all six days except during our hike out the last day so there was plenty of water on Forney to fish. Just the right size for the two of us to fish together and stay close.

I wanted to stay close to my brother, it would have been bad if he got lost. :biggrin:

04-26-2012, 12:38 AM
Very nice trip report and photos. Plus, any time spent with family is a plus. :biggrin:

04-26-2012, 12:29 PM
Since i got a different cell phone on a different network (was ATT now Sprint) I have noticed that I know have service in a lot of areas in the park where I didn't before... pretty much all the way up to CS 70 on Forney from the road to nowhere (with some blank spots) most the way up tremont road, no service in Cataloochie except on the Mt Sterling ridge trail and the tops of Big cat, etc...

I wish I had never found this out, because now whenever I am in the park, my wife half expects to be able to get a hold of me!

05-27-2012, 01:53 PM
I was able to meet my brother for a day hiking up to Mount Leconte over the Memorial Weekend. My wife made this shirt in the photo for my brother Colby. For whoever read the report you might enjoy Colbys new shirt.


Hope everyone is have a great Memorial Break.