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Fires Creek Area • Clay County • Western North Carolina

Fires Creek
Fires Creek

This remote area offers excellent trout fishing, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, and camping. The 25-mile Rim Trail in the Fires Creek Backcountry Area, is a hiking trail, however, some trail sections are open to horses. As the name implies, the Rim Trail climbs the ridge around Fires Creek and makes a large loop. The trail offers vistas as it crosses several high elevation balds. Located on Fires Creek, Bristol Campground has nine sites, a vault toilet, and accommodates horse campers. Huskins Branch Hunt Camp offers primitive camping. From the Leatherwood Falls Picnic Area, a 0.7-mile loop goes to Leatherwood Falls. The area is north of Hayesville on Fires Creek Road (SR 1344).

Fires Creek Rim Trail

The 25-mile Rim Trail follows the ridge around Fires Creek Wildlife Management Area - a mecca for backpackers and those who like primitive camping. The trail, marked with blue blazes, has several access roads and trails. Camping is offered at Huskins Branch Hunter and Bristol Horse Camps. Dispersed camping sites are along Forest Service Road 340. Two picnic areas are near the Rim Trail. Fires Creek Picnic Area offers 10 tables and a restroom. Other trails in the Fires Creek area are Chunky Gal and Bald Springs. Along Rim Trail are rhododendron and spring wildflowers, such as trillium, lady slipper, and Solomon's seal. Grouse, warblers, deer, bear, Russian boar, and hawks roam the area. Camping is not allowed in the marked wildlife openings, and off-road vehicle use is prohibited.

A physically disabled accessible trail is located along Fires Creek. 

Bristol Horse Camp

The Bristol Horse Camp is located on Fires Creek. Open all year, the camp offers seven horse camping sites. The four single sites are $5 each per night, and the three double sites are $10 each per night. Eighteen horse trails totaling 59 miles are available near the camp. The camp's amenities are drinking water and vault toilets. (prices are subject to change without notice)

Rim Trail Sections

Fires Creek is a mecca for backpackers. They can view vistas of Lake Chatuge and discover unique wildflowers.

Huskins Branch Hunter Camp (1800 Feet) to Big Stamp (4437 Feet)

Distance: 7.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Average hiking time: 6 1/2 hours
Features: Good views of Andrews, Hayesville, and Lake Chatuge

Big Stamp (4437 Feet) to Weatherman Bald (4960 Feet)

Distance: 5.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Average hiking time: 4 hours
Features: Overlooks Andrews and river

Weatherman Bald (4960 Feet) to Tusquitee Bald (5240 Feet)

Distance: 1.9 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Average hiking time: 2 1/4 hours
Features: Great views of Lake Chatuge

Tusquitee Bald (5240 Feet) to Chestnut Stump Knob (4400 Feet)

Distance: 2.6 miles
Difficulty: Difficult
Average hiking time: 3 hours
Features: Recommended to hike trail downhill from knob to Carver Gap

Carver Gap (2,996 feet) to Fires Creek

Picnic Area (1,800 feet)
Distance: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Average hiking time: 2 hours
Features: Good views of Lake Chatuge

Leatherwood Loop Trail

Distance: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Average hiking time: 3 hours

Features: A trail begins at Fires Creek Picnic Area and follows Leatherwood Branch up to the ridge top. At this point, trail connects with the original Rim Trail. The trail also loops back into Fires Creek Picnic Area.


From Hayesville: From Main Street, take Tusquitee Street (SR 1300), go about 4.4 miles. Turn right on SR 1344 and go about 0.7 mile. The road turns into FR 340 (gravel). Drive 0.1 mile to Fires Creek Hunt Camp and 0.3 mile to Rim Trail Trailhead.

From Asheville: Take I-40W to Canton. Follow U.S. 74W/U.S. 23S to Exit 81. Follow U.S. 23S/US 441S to Atlanta/Franklin. Take U.S. 64W, follow to Main Street in Hayesville, then follow above directions

for more information:

Tusquitee Ranger District
123 Woodland Drive
Murphy, NC 28906

Back to North Carolina's Rivers and Creeks


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