There are three spectacular trout streams in the North Shore area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — Forney Creek, Eagle Creek and Hazel Creek — and our weekend camping trips take us to all three. However, our favorite destination is Hazel Creek, one of the most unique areas in the National Park.

Hazel Creek’s serene beauty belies its rich history as Proctor, which a century ago was the largest town along the Little Tennessee River. Proctor grew, prospered and died with the mining and lumber industries that briefly flourished in these mountains.

Except for a few ghostly reminders, few traces of Proctor remain. But its rich history continues to fascinate all that explore the area. With Steve Claxton as your guide, that history gives special meaning to the landscape of Hazel Creek.

The area's history is still being written. For those who follow the “Road to Nowhere” controversy, Hazel Creek lies in the path of the proposed replacement road. For more about the  “Road to Nowhere” click here. Better yet, ask Steve.

Steve Claxton
Smoky Mountain Adventures
Post Office Box 995
Bryson City, North Carolina 28713

cel 828-736-7501

I was pleased that a hiker, Chris Galloway, included me in his excellent 11-minute film about hiking in the Smokies. In the video, we talk a lot about Hazel Creek. Watch

A hundred years ago, Proctor, NC was a bustling lumber town with more than 1,000 residents, a movie theater, an ice cream parlor and neighborhoods of fine Victorian homes.

The town grew around the sprawling Ritter Lumber Company, whose boiler and float pond is pictured to the right. But by the 1930s, the lumber industry had run its course, and the deserted Proctor became part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Except for the ruins of a lumber kiln and one house used by the Park Service, nature has since reclaimed Proctor and left few visible reminders of its storied past.

Today, with the roads and rail lines long gone, Proctor and the Hazel Creek area are only accessible by boat. It is one of the most remote areas of the National Park.


Hazel Creek is one of the wildest and most scenic trout fishing streams in the Smokies, a remote area where wildlife sightings are commonplace; and where you may stumble upon some relic of times past.