Return To Lost Creek Falls

Following a stop at Piney Falls – more on that in a subsequent post – I drove for a second time to visit the Lost Creek State Natural Area. This time, though seasonal foliage was absent, the volume of water flowing was bolstered by recent rainfall and provided wonderful scenery.

See earlier post: Lost Creek Falls

Though a recent Year In Review entry highlighted Cummins Falls as my favorite waterfall, Lost Creek Falls – when taken in totality – certainly ranks as a contender for such accolades. While the magnitude of beauty is less, there’s simply more to enjoy!

Notes of Interest

Water in the plunge pool at the base of the 50′ Lost Creek Falls disappears completely underground by draining into a “sink” (or bowl), though a small surface stream remains visible during very wet conditions. The water ends up inside nearby Lost Creek Cave, one of Tennessee’s largest caves, with five separate entrances and seven miles of mapped passages. It’s pitch black inside, requiring headlamps and secondary light systems for safety, and is closed during winter months for purposes of bat hibernation. Also, rumor has it that somewhere deep within the cave, there is another similarly-sized waterfall!

If you enjoy the peace and quiet of nature in a remote location, this area fits the bill. During my first and second visits, I encountered one individual, and then a couple, respectively, while hiking. GPS coordinates of the parking area are N35 50.442, W85 21.660. No restrooms, no gift shop.

In 1994, the Walt Disney Corporation, so pleased with the area’s natural beauty, filmed several scenes from “The Jungle Book” at both the falls & cave entrance.

There are several areas worthy of exploring, each of which will be detailed to some extent, as follows. Stairs are provided leading visitors from the parking area to the falls and cave, though other trails are more rocky. Also, rocks around the water are covered with moss and can be very slippery, so proper footwear is important – exercise discretion.

Ice can pose a hazard for visitors during winter months. Case in point, clusters of huge icicles were positioned on cliff walls to the sides of Lost Creek Falls, as well as above the 30-foot opening to Lost Creek Cave. While I was there, I saw and heard several come crashing down as temperatures warmed a bit. Heads up! Also, many rocks near the waterfalls become coated with thin ice from mist in the air, and can be very slippery!

Photographs & descriptions of each area in chronological order:

Lost Creek Falls

The main attraction, Lost Creek Falls can be heard as soon as you step out of your car. As is common with many waterfalls found on the Cumberland Plateau, rocks have been eroded in a horseshoe shape with recessed areas underneath ledges. This particular topography also includes a few small caves. Also, the plunge pool is quite shallow – great for kids and/or dogs.

Side Waterfall

Located slightly uphill along a short trail to the right of Lost Creek Falls is a smaller waterfall – actually, a set of two. It’s also easy to cross the stream from left to right, which allows hikers access to the top of the falls. However, if conditions are dry so too is this stream.

Lost Creek Cave

This giant cave is located only 300 feet from, and in clear sight of, Lost Creek Falls. Glancing inside, it doesn’t take much distance for light to diminish into darkness. It’s closed for the winter, and spelunkers are required to register for a permit.

Upper Lost Creek Falls

A short trail from the parking area to the top of Lost Creek Falls provides hikers with an opportunity for more interesting views. You’ll see the leading edge of the falls, a stream above which flows as a series of small cascades over rock ledges, and a small cave – largely obscured by boulders – at the top, wherein a honeycomb of eroded rock channels spring fed water from the hillside. Unlike my prior visit, an increased flow of water prevented me from crossing the stream, though I was able – moving deliberatively with extreme caution – to scale icy surfaces in reaching the cave opening.

Rylander Cascades

Another area to enjoy is Rylander Cascades, a short 1/2 mile hike from Lost Creek Falls along a rocky trail. During my visit in late-August, this area was completely dry. So, plan on visiting sometime following rain. If you’re feeling ambitious, this trail also leads 4.5 miles to Virgin Falls – a strenuous hike.

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Return To Stinging Fork Falls

Following my recent hike at Piney Falls State Natural Area – including Upper Piney Falls & Lower Piney Falls – I drove 10 miles to Stinging Fork Falls, located along the Little Soak Creek in Rhea County west of Spring City, Tennessee. I’d rate the trail as moderately difficult, especially following a heavy rain, with rocky surfaces, steep hillsides and wooden stairs in need of repair – watch your step!

On the trail, turning left to follow orange markers is a detour down the mountain to the Cumberland Trail. Don’t go that way. If you follow the yellow trail markers, you’ll arrive at an overlook – with a view that was only okay. Staying on the main trail – follow the white markers – you’ll eventually reach the 30-foot falls. Use caution: a few trees had fallen across the trail.

Photographs

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Lower Piney Falls

Lower Piney Falls stands 40′ tall, and, from the top, has a nice view of a high-walled gorge. There isn’t, unfortunately, access to the base of the falls. Located on the Cumberland Plateau near Grandview, Tennessee, it’s one of two waterfalls that visitors can enjoy – see Upper Piney Falls. Trails are well kept and relatively easy, great for families and/or dogs. Generally, a quiet spot.

Photographs

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The following photographs of Lower Piney Falls were taken the day after a heavy rainfall…

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Video

Upper Piney Falls

Note: also see previous post – Piney Falls State Natural Area

I recently had an opportunity to hike Piney Falls State Natural Area (Upper Piney Falls & Lower Piney Falls), as well as Stinging Fork Falls. It was an exhausting day and I was quite sore when I woke up Monday morning. Be that as it may, it was certainly worth it – tired feet, quiet mind.

I selected these two sites because, first, they are only 10 miles apart, and second, I’d hiked each one of these parks last summer when the water was low. This time around, following a massive weather system the day before, water was in abundance! Here are links to my previous visits:

Of course, the trails were muddy and slippery, with damp leaves and wet rocks. Also, due to high waters, it wasn’t possible to safely cross the river on top of the 80′ Upper Piney Falls – where the mountain trail continues along a rim and leads to an area for descent into the gorge. However, following the trail loop in the other direction, passed Lower Piney Falls, access to the base of the falls is available. It’s also possible to walk behind the falls, though due to a high-volume of mist and windy conditions while visiting, I was nearly soaked! Haha.

Photographs

Here are a few photographs I shot while hiking. In the days ahead, I’ll add more pictures, including images of both Lower Piney Falls & Stinging Fork Falls

Prints

As always, I’ve made prints available in my gallery for anyone who may be interested. With several print types to select, you’re sure to find something which suits your wishes!

Video

The Sinks

Located along the Little River in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, The Sinks is a powerful waterfall that’s easy to miss – there aren’t any signs?! With very few parking spots available – and, only a single handicap spot – it’s also the trailhead for Meigs Creek Trail, where hikers can enjoy a 4 mile out and back trek to Upper Falls. Enjoy the great outdoors!

Prints

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