THE SLICKROCK CREEK TRAILHEAD is on the west side of US 129 at the southern end of the bridge over Calderwood Lake, which is the boundary between North Carolina’s Graham and Swain Counties. Signs for the Little Tennessee River and the two bordering counties (the welcome to/leaving kind) mark both ends of the bridge. The south side of the bridge (the trailhead side) is further distinguished by a fancy Graham County sign.
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Approach from the south. Take US 129 North slightly over 14.0 miles beyond where NC 143 West turns left toward Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. This three-way intersection is approximately 1.0 mile north of Robbinsville, North Carolina. As you near the trailhead, US 129 parallels the Cheoah River (Cheoah means otter in Cherokee), passes the signed turn for Big Fat Gap, then finally crosses the Cheoah River at the community of Tapoco (name derived from Tallassee Power Company). After crossing the Cheoah, continue approximately 0.4 mile to the single-track road (paved entrance) to the left of the highway immediately before it crosses the bridge over Calderwood Lake. That road is the beginning of the trail. There is pull-off and pull-in parking along and slightly in from the highway at the trailhead.
Approach from the north. From the US 129-Foothills Parkway junction in Tennessee, travel US 129 South (the bridge is 2.1 miles beyond the Highway 129-Highway 28 junction) across the bridge over Calderwood Lake, then immediately turn off the highway to the right.
Approach from the southwest. If you are already near the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, or if you are traveling from the southwest – from Tennessee on the Cherohala Skyway – take the shortcut through Horse Cove Campground. Once you reach US 129, turn left and proceed northward approximately 7.5 miles to the trailhead to the left immediately before the bridge. (For the shortcut directions from Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest to US 129 see the “Regional Directions, below.)
- Follow Tim Homan’s Hiking Guide to the Slickrock Creek Trail.
- For an overview of Tim Homan’s three-tiered system for navigating the highways and access roads in the combined Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock and Citico Creek Wildernesses, read his Regional Directions for Navigating the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock and Citico Creek Combined Wildernesses
- For a cultural and natural history of the combined wildernesses, plus practical hiking tips, read Tim’s informative and entertaining An Overview of Hiking in the Combined Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock and Citico Creek Wildernesses.