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Nature Photography

Adventure At Paine Creek

Originally, my intention was to comb the rock bed along Richland Creek. Given low seasonal water levels across the Cumberland Plateau, I hoped to observe interesting underlying geological formations. However, things changed when I arrived.

You’ve probably never heard of Paine Creek. It’s a rather obscure creek streaming down a mountain side along the Laurel-Snow Trail, in Dayton, Tennessee. I’ve visited this park before, and traversed the rocky field of boulders along Paine Creek, though always wondered what was beyond the last waterfall.

Early into the hike, I approached a small wooden bridge over Paine Creek. Built upon stone columns erected in the early 1900’s by the Dayton Coal & Iron Company, the area has many remnants from that era, including old mine entrances into the mountain – one of which is situated directly under a waterfall. Once again, I opted to follow a trail spur uphill along the creek, beginning what would on this occasion become a 7-hour journey.

There are several small waterfalls upstream, each of which becomes increasingly difficult to access. Boulders ranging in sizes over 20-feet pepper the landscape, requiring hikers to go around, climb over, or, in some cases, traverse narrow passageways. It would be necessary at times to backtrack, as ones line of sight forward is often imperfect, routes of which subsequently proved impassable.

In addition to sufficient footwear, physical conditioning, food and water, I would suggest that perhaps the most important element for a hiker in such circumstances is discretion – knowing when to say no, so as to more closely examine secondary options. The cost of bad judgement can be high, and slippery moss-covered rocks were a dangerous and constant concern.


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Waterfalls

Here are a few photographs of small waterfalls along Paine Creek –

Waterfall & Mine

The following photographs feature the furthest waterfall which I’d previously visited, until this hike. In this area, high walls of the gorge envelope the falls on both sides, while the ledge above the falls is beyond reach. A particularly interesting aspect to these falls is that, with the exception of high water levels, the flow of water originates solely from the interior of an old mine entrance. As I would later learn, water from the creek above seeps through an underground passage into this mine. Having a look inside, I could see the front edge of a pool of water, and the footprints of a small animal. Fortunately, no bears!

After enjoying this setting for a spell, it was time to move on – what was above this waterfall? As noted, I wasn’t able to climb the front of the falls, and, the gorge walls stood approx. 50-feet tall. So, I backtracked a short distance to the trail and continued uphill.

After a period of time, and with temperatures approaching 90-degrees, I began to wonder how much further I’d need to travel along this trail before reaching the top. It seemed as if I must have already ascended an estimated 300-feet in elevation, far more than I’d earlier assumed would be necessary.

Onward and upward, I continued my trek and would soon encounter a 30-foot climbing rope secured to a tree on the cap-rock above. After evaluating the scenario – assessing surface conditions as being slippery for footholds, as well as my tripod continually catching the underside of protruding rocks – I opted to remain on the trail, shortly thereafter finding a better way to the top.

Top of The Mountain

Finally on top of the mountain, the trail continued beyond where the climbing rope was affixed, to a ledge with an expansive, scenic view across the valley.

The view was great, although, however faintly, I could hear the sound of water in the distance – downhill, beyond the forest. This was my goal, and so I soon continued along the edge of the mountain as far as I could. At a point, though, massive cliffs forced me into the forest without any path to follow, moving cautiously through the trees, vines, and – oh, joy – a seemingly endless quantity of sharp-thorn bushes.

I was constantly having to untangle myself from the plants and trees, often needing to remove my backpack – again, my tripod was an issue – and, at times, both climb over & crawl under downed trees.

Patience. In such situations, it’s easy to become frustrated. However, rather than plowing through dense foliage to save time, it’s important to remain patient, particularly in an unfamiliar environment. Case in point – on two occasions, reminding myself to slow down allowed for an opportunity to observe rock ledges hidden behind bushes…so, heads up!


Albeit gradual, the sound of running water began to intensify as I continued downhill, until, finally, I could see the creek through the trees below! There was, though, one last obstacle – an 8-foot high ledge with no obvious safe path of descent.

At 56 years old, weighing 235 lbs., and with bad knees – as well as experiencing fatigue from the hike – a drop from that height would be ill-advised, potentially injurious.

Hence, I began searching back and forth along the edge of the ledge to assess my options. Of course, this entailed dealing with more difficult foliage during the process, but I soon found what I considered to be a safe means of descent. I determined that if I sat down on an appreciably steep area of the hillside – covered with a thick, relatively dry moss and dirt – that I could control my speed by inching forward to contact a closely situated tree using my feet. Thereafter, grasping the branchless trunk to climb down.

As anticipated, I moved slowly and the process unfolded without a hitch. It wasn’t until I set foot on the floor of the gorge, however, that the thought crossed my mind –

I really hope there’s an easier way to leave when it’s time to go.

Beyond The Last Waterfall

Yes – I’d finally arrived and there was in fact another beautiful waterfall tucked away in this isolated, pristine gorge! My first order of business, however, was to locate a hand-towel from my backpack, wet it in the creek, and wash away the sweat, debris, bugs, and – caused by the thorns – blood on my legs.

Soon thereafter, following a careful walk-around to survey the area, I heard a rumble of thunder. A light rain followed, lasting for nearly one-half of an hour, and so I took refuge under a tree and rested while enjoying a snack I’d brought along. I didn’t mind the rain, but realized that all rock surfaces would now be extremely slippery and that any steps in the gorge must be undertaken with heightened deliberation.

Waterfall

Video

This video begins by overlooking what would be the spillway above the top edge of the lower waterfall, were a high-volume of water present. Next, a view of the upper waterfall is shown. Last, it finishes where the creek vanishes under a rock wall and into the mine below.

As it turned out, there was a 20-foot uphill scramble across the creek to the left of where this video concludes. Fortunately, the water was low – otherwise, access to this return route would not have been possible. I hiked into the forest, and, eventually, down hill and back to the Laurel-Snow Trail along Richland Creek.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this recount of my recent Adventure At Paine Creek. Thanks for visiting & enjoy the great outdoors!

Categories
Nature Photography

Skinny Dip Falls

Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina, Skinny Dip Falls is a 1 mile out and back hike featuring several small waterfalls with refreshing pools.

The trailhead is situated across the street from the scenic overlook for Looking Glass Rock. A very popular tourist destination, the parking lot fills early, with overflow along the street. Leashed dogs are welcome. No restrooms.


If you’d be interested in a print of any kind, visit my shop at Pixels.

Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Nature Photography

More Shots From North Carolina

Photographs from my recent visit to Graveyard Fields Trail, NC –

See more

Categories
Nature Photography

Second Falls

Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina, Second Falls is one of two waterfalls which can be enjoyed while hiking the Graveyard Fields Trail.

If possible, arrive early – this is a popular area which can become quite crowded with overflow parking along the street. Information placards include a map of the trail – study this closely, as a mix of trail spurs can become confusing – and, restrooms are available. Also, dogs are welcome on this trail but must be kept on a leash.

Hikers should come prepared with ample water, and expect to encounter mud on the trails. While it goes without saying that rocks can be slippery, so too are wooden steps and boardwalks – exercise caution. In summary, I really enjoyed my hike on this trail!


If you’d be interested in a print of any kind, visit my shop at Pixels.

Video

Categories
Nature Photography

Stacked Stones And Falling Water

Located at the Chilhowee Recreation Area in Tennessee, this photograph features various stacks of stones aside the picturesque Benton Falls. It’s available on various prints for your home or office – visit my gallery to see more.

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Nature Photography

Scenic Morning View

Approaching the Chilhowee Recreation Area in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee, I stopped at a scenic overlook to enjoy this morning view over Lake Ocoee. Now, you can also enjoy this same view on a wall in your home by visiting my gallery. Choose from a variety of fine print types –

Framed / Canvas / Art / Poster / Metal / Wood / Acrylic / Tapestry

Enjoy your morning & have a nice day!

Categories
Nature Photography

Waterfalls And Reflections

This photograph features the picturesque City Lake Falls, located on the Cumberland Plateau, in Cookeville, Tennessee. If you’d be interested in a print for a wall in your home or office, many varieties are available in my shop. Thanks for stopping by!

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Nature Photography

Return To Burgess Falls

On the Falling Water River, Burgess Falls State Park is centrally located between Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee, with four scenic waterfalls cascading down over 250-feet.

An easy hike, the trail is only 1.5 miles out and back, and there’s an observation platform for viewing Lower Falls. Ample parking, restrooms, drinking fountain & convenient filling station for water bottles are available. It’s a popular tourist attraction, and free, thus visitors are advised to arrive early.

The Four Waterfalls

If you’d be interested in a print of any kind, visit my shop at Pixels.

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There’s also another parking area upstream, located next to an old dam. Though in a state of disrepair with no trespassing signs posted, it’s nevertheless possible to stay clear and enjoy remote views.

Video

Thanks for stopping by!


Also: see my first visit to Burgess Falls.

Categories
Photography Structures

Sugarloaf Mountain Park

Following a hike at Benton Falls, I later found Ocoee Dam No. 2 – a hydroelectric dam along the Ocoee River, in Polk County, Tennessee, built between 1912-1913.

At the adjacent Sugarloaf Mountain Park, I learned that materials to construct this rock-filled crib-type dam had been quarried from a hillside across the river, with structural remnants of a railway bridge still intact.

If you’d be interested in a print of any kind, visit my shop at Pixels.

Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Nature Photography

Water And Rock

Sun streamed through the trees into the gorge of Little Piney Creek, as I traversed the shallow waters on a morning hike at this remote location. Prints available.

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Nature Photography

Walking In Water

This is Little Piney Creek. Though the water was low, my sense of adventure was not. So, I enjoyed a pleasant walk in the forest, through the shallow water. See more.

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Nature Photography

Valley of Boulders

I made up the name, but it certainly fits – this trail at Black Mountain, near Crab Orchard, Tennessee, has dozens of gigantic boulders.

If you’d be interested in a print for your home or office, etc., then visit my shop at Pixels – many varieties are available…

Categories
Nature Photography

City Lake Falls

Located in Cookeville, Tennessee, City Lake Falls is a small waterfall which can be enjoyed following a 1/4-mile hike along a paved surface through the woods.

There’s ample parking, picnic area, lake for fishing and/or water sports & a wooden viewing platform at the falls – no restrooms.

The Waterfall

If you’d be interested in a print of any kind, visit my shop at Pixels.

Categories
Nature Photography

Little Piney Creek

After reviewing my options and seeing no clear pathway to the base of Lower Piney Falls, I turned and decided to follow Little Piney Creek, with a low water line, back towards Upper Piney Falls. It was a good decision (though I later fell on my keister) and I was pleased to observe many beautiful sights in this remote gorge environment. This photograph highlights an area which was especially appealing, with unique geological outcroppings, shallow water, reflections, and sunshine streaming from around the bend.

Framed / Canvas / Art / Poster / Metal / Wood / Acrylic / Tapestry

Prints and other items are available through my shops at Pixels and/or Fine Art America – a nice accent for your home or office!

Enjoy the great outdoors!

Categories
Graphics Photography

Cummins Falls

Cummins Falls is a popular & scenic waterfall located along the Blackburn Fork River near Cookeville, Tennessee. I shot this photograph while visiting in 2019, and have formatted this black and white picture in a style similar to the technique used by the famous photographer Ansel Adams.

This is not a limited print, and prints are available in my gallery at Pixels. Select from framed, canvas, art, poster, metal, wood, acrylic and tapestry options.

Categories
Nature Photography

Top of The Mountain

Located near Crab Orchard, Tennessee, Black Mountain connects with the Cumberland Trail and provides hikers with both scenic overlooks, as well as a geologic wonderland of massive boulders and cliffs. This shot was taken facing east, with the Smoky Mountains visible in the distance, as well as the nuclear power plant in Oak Ridge (shown on right). Prints available. Thanks for stopping by!

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Nature Photography

Upper Piney Falls

Located on the Cumberland Plateau adjacent to Grandview, Tennessee, Upper Piney Falls is a scenic waterfall standing 80-feet tall. It’s a relatively short hike on well-maintained trails, and dogs (leashed) are welcomed. Parking is limited. No restrooms.

Following the trail, hikers will encounter a split leading to the right (Upper Piney Falls) or left (Lower Piney Falls). Both routes do provide access to the base of Upper Piney Falls, where visitors can enjoy walking behind the waterfall, or cool off in the plunge pool.

The trail to the left is longer, though the trail to the right entails a steep mountain descent (using an installed support cable for balance), as well as crossing Little Piney Creek. This is easy with lower water levels, though not advisable when the creek is high.

Photography

If you’d be interested in a print of any kind, visit my shop at Pixels.

Framed / Canvas / Art / Poster / Metal / Wood / Acrylic / Tapestry

Video

See: posts from previous visits to Piney Falls State Natural Area

Categories
Nature Photography

Soco Falls

Enjoy this nature photography featuring Soco Falls, a scenic waterfall located on the Eastern Cherokee Reservation, in North Carolina. Prints available.

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Nature Photography

Cliff Branch Falls

Standing only 12-feet tall, Cliff Branch Falls can be enjoyed by visitors driving through the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. But don’t blink, though, or you might miss it – the falls are located along the edge of US-441. No trail. No hiking. There is, however, a small area to park – so, bring a lunch & enjoy the great outdoors!

If you’d be interested in a print of any kind, visit my shop at Pixels.

Categories
Nature Photography

Fall Creek Falls

This photograph of Fall Creek Falls was taken near an observation area located across the gorge. Standing 256-feet, it’s the tallest waterfall in the state of Tennessee, USA. Prints available.