While on vacation in the Smokys we found another great out-of-the-way trail to hike and that was the Chastain Creek Trail. The trail gets its start at the Smokemount campground on the North Carolina side of the Park. The trail actually starts with the Bradley Fork trail and after you travel about 1.2 miles you will come across a side trail which is the Chastain Creek trail, the trail is actually very easy to hike with very little elevation change which is rare in the Mountains.
The hike is very pleasant with most of it being an old roadbed that follows the Bradley Fork of the Oconaluftee River, you pass thru beautiful stands of Yellow Birch and lush moss and fern covered understory, you also share the trail with horses as well so you best mind where you put your feet. You soon arrive at the trail for Chastain Creek which veers to the right, the trail is well marked so you shouldn’t pass it.
After you enter the trail you will hike another mile before you come to an impressive slide in the creek, Chastain Cascade, it is wide spot in the creek where the water slides down a large rock formation for about 40 feet. We hiked it in the Fall which made for beautiful color and also we made the trek in a rainstorm which added to the beauty of the cascade. After taking a few images we made our way back down the trail only to be greeted with another sight I have not see before.
When you hike in the Smokys it is not uncommon to come across many wild animals, I have seen everything form whitetail deer to black bears and turkeys, I have also come across innumerable species of birds and even viewed many of the large number of salamanders which call the park home. But after we had hiked about a half a mile we came across something that I had not experienced before… Wild Boars !!
The rain had softened the sounds of us moving down the trail so when we happened across the boars neither them or us were aware of each others existence, so as you can imagine both species were startled by the encounter. Luckily for us the boar thought we were much more of a threat to them so they quickly vacated the area leaving us a little shaken by their presence, I have seen many bear in the park but these guys just seemed a little more intimidating to me than the average bear.
But no harm was done and of course my camera was in its backpack, were it usually is when I come across an unusual animal sighting. So if you are in the mood for a nice hike in the park give this trail a try you are sure to see a beautiful cascade and if you are lucky you just might come across a pig or two while you are out.