East of Murphy and northeast of Hayesville in the Nantahala National Forest, the Fires Creek Rim Trail is a 25 mile hiking loop around lushly forested 16,000 acre Fire Creek Wildlife (managed black bear habitat). The blue blazed trail is overgrown and difficult to follow as it passes through dense rhododendron and hardwood forests. There are black bear and russian boar roaming the area. There is a total vertical climb of 3,200 feet.
To reach the hiking trailhead from Murphy, head east on US64 for 9 miles. Turn left on SR1344 (Fire Creek Road) for 1.8 miles. Park near bridge just before Leatherwood Falls Picnic Area.
To reach the trailhead from Hayesville starting on Main Street, follow Tusquitee Street (SR 1300) for 4.4 miles. Turn right on SR 1344 for 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.
Overall, Fires Creek Rim Trail is the 5th most popular hiking trail of all 19 hikes in North Carolina.