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MBB 03-04-2008 03:52 PM

Trail to Raven Fork from Smokemont
I plan on camping out at Smokemont for a few days in late spring and was thinking of accessing the Raven Fork River from Smokemont. I know it is a good 4-5 miles or so, but I was particularly wondering how steep the trail is. Is it as bad as Hyatt Ridge? Any information will be appreciated. Thanks!

sammcdonald 03-04-2008 06:46 PM

chastain creek is, perhaps, worse than hyatt ridge, plus you've got bradley fork (easy) and huges ridge....about six miles just to enloe creek and raven fork junction...back country i remember that area

mtnman2888 03-04-2008 08:08 PM

Glad to see someone else is as dumb.....errr i mean adventurous enough to make a trip to ravens fork as i did. I came in via the enloe creek trail on straight fork, though, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I have only been on chasteen creek trail once for a very short distance, right at bradleys fork. It is relatively easy at this elevation but by looking at the maps it appears to get quite a bit more difficult. Another important thing to remember is that this 6 mile hike will take quite a bit longer than most due to the fact that it is so steep. Again, different trail, but when we made the short 3 mile hike from straight creek it took us about 2 1/2 hours. In comparison, on our trip to bryson's place on deep creek, about a 6.1 mile hike i believe, it took us about that long on the way up and just over 2 hours on the way back.

Have you ever been to ravens fork? One thing that is important to know is that that area is probably one of the most rugged in the park, that's why it was spared from the logging. You made no mention of anyone else and i can't recommend that you fish this river alone, it quite simply just offers too many opportunities to get hurt. I went late last year during the drought and the water was extremely low, as one could expect, but the river had some treacherous spots and some that were impassable. This river appears to be able to hold a large amount of water and i'm not sure that the river would be downright dangerous during normal water conditions, let alone when the water is high.

Not to try and dissuade you from going there, because i think you would love it. It's an absolutely gorgeous area and one of the few areas of the park that have been untouched by man. We caught good numbers of fish when we went, although i think we could have done better had the water not been quite so low. It is definitely a trip that you would enjoy, it's just one that proper precautions need to be taken. Here's a link to the report i posted last year:

Let us know how you do if you go. As long as you're safe i don't think you'll be disappointed in the trip. Hope this helped.


MBB 03-05-2008 09:11 AM

Thanks so much for the information, guys. Six miles on a very steep trail is probably too much for me to do in a day trip. So, I might try the headwaters of Bradley instead. I have always wanted to fish Gulf Prong.

Craig, I have fished Raven's Fork three times before. I have had good fishing there, but never great. The reasons I return are exactly the same reasons as you described. It is a wild, rugged wilderness area. My prior three excursions I came in from Hyatt Ridge trail and it is a trail that will test your endurance. And, I know what you mean by the water level. I was there one time and the water was slightly high and that was scary. It is almost frighteneing to know the water moved those huge boulders in the stream bed!

Fortunately, I never received any injuries before there and I don't intend to travel alone. In the past, my biggest concern was those pesky mice that tried to get in my tent and in my pack. Hopefully, I will get up there again one day. Oh, thanks so much for the link and your trip report!

mtnman2888 03-05-2008 10:38 AM

You're right it is definitely a beautiful place. When we went, i wouldn't say that we did great but we did pretty good, especially on the first day when it we fished in the afternoon and it was a bit warmer. I would like to go back, maybe on a summer trip or something when it is warm and the water temps would stay up some. It got pretty cold at night and the water temp was a little chilly which i would like to think hampered the fishing just a bit. Never had any problems with the mice, however, and i hope i don't!


Owl 05-17-2008 04:01 PM

How's the fishing on Enlo Creek - and how big is that water? I'm guessing not very large? Fished Sfork last spring and had a blast. wanted to go up further, but a huge thunderstorm pushed us back to the truck. Got about 1/4 mi past the meat grinder. ;) If you've been there, you know. If you haven't - that isn't slang for anything - there's a Lord-knows-how-old meat grinder sitting on a log on your left. Sometimes you see the nuttiest things when trout fishin'!

Dancing Bear 05-20-2008 12:40 PM

I saw that meat grinder last week for the first time. I thought it was pretty cool.
You do see some interesting stuff back of beyond.

adamr 02-01-2010 11:04 PM

Meat grinder
I saw this thing sitting on a log in the edge of the creek July/1/09. I thought it was strange just sitting there,figured someone had found it in the creek and just sat it up there. I snapped a couple of photos and went on. I wondered later on if I should have brought it out or mentioned it to a ranger. I figured it would be long gone after the next high water. I saw the previous post was from May/08. Pretty cool it's been around a while.

Jim Casada 02-02-2010 02:04 PM

MBB and Craig--Craig offers some excellent advice and insight, although I would differ on one historical point. It isn't quite accurate to say Raven Fork was untouched by man. There's actually an old railroad grade which reaches up into the gorge a way from the Cherokee Reservation end, and a goodly portion of the watershed was logged. Indeed, the trail from Smokemont was originally built to carry in supplies for timber cruisers and loggers. Anyone who is interested in details on the logging history might want to look at Tom Alexander's delightful book, Mountain Fever. That being said, Craig is exactly right in suggesting it is a majestic and beautiful area. It is also probably the most remote in the Park in terms of trail access, with no trails paralleling the stream and only one lateral trail penetrating the drainage at all.
As for accessing it, there's no question that of the two possible routes--from Smokemont and then up Chasteen Creek or from Straight Fork--the Straight Fork trailhead and access is the easiest.
I would add a couple of historical tidbits. For some years after the Park was created Tom Alexander took guests at Cataloochee Ranch in to Three Forks for camping and fishing. I had never thought of it until now, but that suggests the Park didn't have designated campsites in the 1930s and 1940s. Of course Alexander butted heads with the Park on more than one occasion, but I don't think he would have camped if it wasn't permitted. There's a small photo of the camp at Three Forks in my book, Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, along with a much larger one of Tom's wife, Miss Judy, with a mess of Raven Fork Trout.
One final thought--Enloe Creek and Raven Fork upstream from Enloe Rock are both speckled trout heaven. Should you penetrate far enough to reach Three Forks, you will be at what is arguably the most lovely pool in the entire Park.
Jim Casada

JohnH0802 02-02-2010 02:14 PM

Your wisdom and insights are always a welcome addition. Now all I need you to do is give me the wisdom and insight to be able to find the time and weather to get out there. I already have the bug, and this post has made the itch much worse.

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