Big Creek is in a less visited part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
And for Big Creek waterfalls, the Midnight Hole waterfalls is one of the great waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains!
This Smoky Mountains hike to waterfalls in Big Creek is a hike through a forest, with a trail that also goes along a creek, and it’s a rocky trail in parts. Shoes with thicker soles (like hiking shoes) can be helpful on rocky trails like this so the soles of your feet aren’t feeling it as much.
Share the Midnight Hole video with the people you’ll be hiking in the Smoky Mountains with!
You can make it a hike to Midnight Hole and turn back around. You can also keep hiking further on the trail, and you will also come across another great waterfalls, Mouse Creek Falls.
Many people do go to Mouse Creek Falls as well after hiking to Midnight Hole. But if you want to make it a shorter waterfall hike, it can be a worthy hike just to go to Midnight Hole too.
Below will focus on hiking to Midnight Hole only.
Basics about the trail to Midnight Hole
You’ll take the Big Creek Trail to get to Midnight Hole.
The distance of this hiking trail to Midnight Hole is around 3 miles round trip.
You might give yourself 1.5-2 hours to complete the hike to Midnight Hole. How much time you spend on the trail can depend on your fitness level, how many stops you make, and how long you spend at the waterfalls!
In warmer temperatures, this is known as a waterfalls swimming spot. As a visitor to the area, it’s important to know the dangers of waterfall swimming and being around waterfalls in general. There has been a death at Midnight Hole as recently as September 2020. It’s being reported in the news that he slipped on a rock and fell in.
Your destination for google maps can be the Big Creek trailhead or the Big Creek campground loop road. If you’re coming from Gatlinburg, the drive to the Big Creek Trail parking lot is 1 hour, maybe a little less.
No dogs on the trail to Midnight Hole
In general, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not a pet-friendly park when it comes to hiking trails. Pets are not allowed on the vast majority of hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains, and that includes the Big Creek Trail that takes you to Midnight Hole.
Big Creek picnic area
Right near the parking lot is a picnic area. Bring your own food and you can have a nice picnic after your waterfall hike! There’s a bridge across a creek right nearby the parking lot as well for more scenic views. This actually might be the group camping area, so if it’s in use there is also the Big Creek picnic area that’s down the road.
There are bears around Big Creek
You will see a “bear-proof” heavy duty trash container at the trailhead parking lot, and all over the national park.
If you utilize the picnic area by eating food, take extra care to pick up your food scraps and trash!
A note from another area of the national park, but the same applies at Big Creek! “A fed bear is a dead bear.” If bears start to recognize human food as bear food, they can become a serious threat to humans – to you! If that happens, a bear may have to be put to rest for good. This is why it’s said to be important that everyone does their part to pick up after themselves.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is bear country!
Toilets at near trailhead to Midnight Hole
There are bathroom facilities with flush toilets at the trailhead parking lot.
Driving to the start of the Midnight Hole trail
So again, your destination for google maps can be the Big Creek trailhead or the Big Creek campground loop road. This will take you to the Big Creek area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
You’ll pass by a small parking area, and that’s parking for the Chester Branch Trail. This is also where you’ll find the Big Creek picnic area.
Chester Branch Trail to Appalachian Trail, 2 miles away.
Chester Branch Trail to Mount Cammerer, 5.9 miles away.
Lots of potholes.
Parking lot for trail to Midnight Hole.
Side note! See the more of the Smoky Mountains:
- Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains
- Best hikes with VIEWS in the Smoky Mountains
- Best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains
- Driving the scenic route from Gatlinburg to Clingman's Dome
- Driving the slow scenic route from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove
- The big list of things to do in the Smoky Mountains
PHOTOS for a little bit of what to expect when hiking in Big Creek on the trail to Midnight Hole!
I hiked to the Midnight Hole waterfalls in late September 2020. Pictures are from that time. I did this waterfall hike on a somewhat rainy day, and I thought the water color at the waterfalls still looked amazing! I’m sure it looks even better if it’s sunny out!
Big Creek Trail to Midnight Hole, 1.5 miles away.
Big Creek Trail to Mouse Creek Falls, 2 miles away.
Big Creek Trail to Swallow Fork Trail, 5.1 miles away.
Big Creek Trail to Campsite 37, 5.2 miles away.
And then once you’re near, you’ll start to see the blue-green color of the waterfalls pool off to the left side of the trail. It’s kind of hiding behind the trees. There was no trail sign at the time I did this hike. From here, it’s a bunch of rocks you step down to get to the level of the river/creek.
The safest way to see these waterfalls is to enjoy the view from the side you arrived at.
If you walk on the rocks to get further out into the creek, or even to attempt to go to the other side, it’s important to be very careful! Water levels also may make it more dangerous.
If you’re climbing or stepping on any rocks, take care, as rocks can be slippery and/or unstable! It’s best to test out a rock or log to see if it moves before you put your full weight on it.
And that’s a bit of what it’s like on the hike to the Midnight Hole waterfalls!
Be sure to see the list of more great waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains!
Popular scenic areas of the Smoky Mountains with waterfalls:
HAPPY HIKING TO SEE BIG CREEK WATERFALLS!
Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky MountainsYou will want good shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains.
In general, the best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains will be hiking boots (more ideal) or trail running shoes (more versatile for everyday activities compared to hiking boots but still will give you advantages compared to regular shoes).
I liked wearing my hiking boots for the thicker soles (good on rocky trails) and the waterproof (water resistant) nature of them.
They were especially helpful on rainy day hikes to keep my shoes (and socks!) dry! They are also better to be walking on mud compared to regular shoes.
On rougher terrain (like the trails that are a bit rougher with more rocks), hiking boots are more ideal so you won't feel it on the bottoms of your feet as much.
If you want shoes that can work out better as everyday "out and about" kind of shoes, then you might like trail running shoes better! Trail running shoes are a little more durable than regular shoes, so they can also work out as good hiking shoes. Trail running shoes are a bit lighter weight and less bulky compared to hiking boots.
Shoe fit is very important for your feet! Be sure to break in your new shoes by walking around the neighborhood and/or at the grocery store before you go on your "big hike" in the Smoky Mountains!