Trail: Fighting Creek Nature Trail
Surface: Packed Dirt
Distance: 1.1 miles
Time: 45 minutes
Foot Traffic: Crowded
Restrooms: Sugarlands Visitor Center (backcountry regulations)
Highlights: Historical, Streams, John Ownby Cabin
Fighting Creek Nature Trail Trailhead
You will find the trailhead about 50 yards past the restrooms and vending area of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. A printed trail guide is available at the trailhead for .50 cents. The honor system is in place, so just deposit your coins in the receptacle provided and take a guide.
Fighting Creek Nature Trail Description
Fighting Creek Nature Trail is a wonderful leisurely walk through the forest. It is a great introductory trail for a hiking newbie and you are never far from civilization and restrooms. In fact, hikers often comment that they can hear road noise from nearby roads.
The trail surface is packed dirt with occasional roots and gravel. The distance is roughly one mile and nearly flat, so it is family friendly. Most hikers should expect to complete the hike in 45 minutes or so.
John Ownby Cabin | Fighting Creek Nature Trail | Photo: Brian Stansberry
The John Ownby Cabin is the highlight of the trail and is open for a walk-through. Visitors often find it difficult to believe that an entire family lived in a house this small, but it was common at the time. Families did not spend most of their time indoors as do many contemporary families. They were outdoors for most of the time, but when they were indoors, they were together!
Built in 1860, the John Ownby cabin is the oldest remaining building from the Forks of the River community. The National Register of Historic Places added the building to their list in 1976.
Fighting Creek Nature Trail Wildlife
Wildlife is one of the biggest draws for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Black bears, otters, whitetail deer, elk, butterflies, fireflies, and hundreds of other critters are home here.
Fighting Creek Nature Trail is one of the areas in the park where black bears love to hang out. While it can be exciting to see a bear in the wild, remember that they are wild bears and can be dangerous. Park rangers will close the trail periodically when it is determined that the bears are hanging out more than usual.
RELATED: What to Do If You Encounter a Black Bear
Nearby Points of Interest
Elkmont is a historic district only a few miles from Sugarlands Visitor Center. It is the home of the annual Synchronous Firefly event and the location of historic summer homes from the early 1900’s. Old Sugarlands Trail is just 200 yards north of the Sugarlands Visitor Center and is rarely closed.