Nolan Creek is absolutely gorgeous in the fall. Of course this can be said of many areas of the Smoky Mountain National Park. Nolan Creek combines an idyllic setting of frolicking stream, thick deciduous canopy and wide curving trail, almost more of a country road than a hiking trail. Considering its nearness to the road and civilization in general this is actually a low traffic area as many visitors head to the end of Lake View Drive and then head directly west from the trailhead to Lake Fontana.
Consider taking a fall trip where you and the family hike the 1.3 miles to Bearpen Creek and set up camp. This is a nice little series of sites, tucked back into a draw that is almost cozy. Set up, have a picnic, play in the creek and then head back into Bryson Springs to catch the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad afternoon train to Nantahala Gorge. It runs pretty much all of October is a delightful ride, despite the rather steep price.
Get dinner or ice cream or both in town and then head back out to the camp site. The next day, depending on the energy level, consider hiking north 4miles to Solola Valley at the next trail branch. You won’t be disappointed.