Water from City Lake Falls runs downhill along a rocky surface, over moss and small ledges. Photographed on the Cumberland Plateau, in Cookeville, Tennessee. Prints available.
The tallest mountain located entirely within the state of Tennessee – near Gatlinburg – Mount LeConte stands an impressive 6593-feet above sea level and provides hikers with stunning panoramic scenery of the Smoky Mountains.
Clingmans Dome (at 6664-feet, the tallest peak in the Smoky Mountains National Park) and Mount Guyot (6621-feet) each have higher elevations, though both occupy boundaries within Tennessee and North Carolina.
There are five trails to the summit of Mount LeConte. This hike – my second – began at the Alum Cave Trailhead, located approx. 8 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center, along Newfound Gap Road. During the initial 1.5 miles, the trail parallels two creeks – Alum Cave Creek & Styx Branch – providing visitors with pleasant background sounds of running water.
Shout Out: I enjoyed conversation at Myrtle Point with two visitors from Maryland (Kathy) & Virginia (Gayle), and hiking back down the mountain with a nice woman – Shawnie – from Dayton, TN. Nice to meet you!
One can expect to meet many people along the trail – it’s a popular place to hike, with most folks opting to walk 1/2 the distance, stopping at Alum Cave Bluffs (an area originally mined for deposits of magnesium sulfate & alum in 1838, by the Epsom Salts Manufacturing Company).
Other landmarks include Arch Rock (a long stairway which winds through the mountainside), Inspiration Point, and the Eye of The Needle. This area is also home to Peregrine Falcons – the fastest bird in the world, with a top recorded speed (during descent) of 242 miles per hour. And, the trail is equipped with several different steel cables, affixed to the mountainside for safety.
Hikers are greeted at the top of the mountain with a series of buildings – LeConte Lodge, cabins, gift shop, fresh water pump & an outhouse.
LeConte Lodge operates via a seasonal airlift of supplies by helicopter in March, restocking throughout the season using alternating teams of pack llamas for several days each week. Cabin availability is limited and reservations should be made one year in advance.
Located a short 0.2 miles away from LeConte Lodge, Cliff Tops is one of two primary overlooks enjoyed by visiting hikers. It’s a great place to relax with a snack and take in the view!
My next destination was the eastern most edge on top of Mount LeConte; also known as Myrtle Point. Here are a few photographs taken en route…
This is my favorite of the two overlooks. It has a more expansive, panoramic view, and much flatter rock surfaces for comfortable seating. Mountain views include Mount Kephart, Newfound Gap, Charlies Bunion and Clingmans Dome.
Including visits to/from the Cliff Tops & Myrtle Point overlooks, I tallied over 12 miles on the hike along the Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte. It’s the shortest route, but, being the steepest trail, a strenuous endeavor. My advice is to be well-rested, bring appropriate clothing but travel as lightly as practical, take a break if fatigued, stay hydrated, use trekking poles when possible, and watch your step. Oh, and take pictures!
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Such a beautiful place deserves more attention, and so here is another photograph of Cummins Falls – in Cookeville, Tennessee. If you’d be interested in a print for your home or office – lobby, cafeteria, hospital, etc. – then visit my shop at Fine Art America. A variety of museum quality prints are available to enjoy over time.
Enjoy this black and white photograph of Clear Creek with a morning fog lingering over the forest. Taken at the Obed Wild And Scenic River National Park, in Tennessee. Prints available.
Located in the Tremont section of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, the Middle Prong Trail to Indian Flats Falls is 8.2 miles out and back.
Driving 3 miles beyond the Tremont Institute, which features a small gift shop and restroom, the gravel road dead ends at a parking area by the trailhead. Crossing a footbridge over the river, the trail forks to the left and parallels Lynn Camp Prong.
Hikers will enjoy the sound of running water over the course of a 1140-foot elevation gain en route to Indian Flats Falls. At approx. 1/2 mile, the impressive 35-foot tall Lynn Camp Falls can be viewed from the trail.
The Middle Prong Trail was originally a railroad bed used by the Little River Railroad & Lumber Company, based in Townsend, Tennessee, which was one of the largest commercial logging operations in southern Appalachia, operating for 38 years until 1939, with 150 miles of railroad. Visitors can find more information available at the Little River Railroad Museum.
Along the way, hikers will observe vestiges from that era, including limited glimpses of railroad tracks and other steel remnants, a toppled chimney and an abandoned 1920’s Cadillac taxi. Other encounters may include horses – equestrians allowed, so watch your step – and bears, common to the area.
Over the course of the trail, hikers should expect an increase in grade and quantity of scattered small-to-medium sized rocks. There are two bridges to cross, as well as two small creek beds, easily traversed by stepping on rocks to keep dry.
After hiking 4 miles up a mountainside, one might expect to see a sign pointing to Indian Flats Falls. Alas, there are no signs. Instead, following several turns and an increase in elevation, the path broadens substantially at a switchback. Rather than continuing left, hikers will see a path to the right, tucked behind a large bush near a rock face. Turning right is a short, moderately difficult path over some rocks and under a few downed trees – then, the falls!
Emerging from the path, visitors are greeted with a wonderful view of the 20-foot tall top section of Indian Flats Falls. There is plenty of room for several people to gather, though hikers should remain weary of slippery conditions on what would otherwise appear as flat rock surfaces.
This waterfall actually has four-tiers, for a total height of 60-feet, though access to these lower areas isn’t easy, requiring one to get dirty foraging through the brush, descending shallow rock ledges, and wading knee-deep through a plunge pool at the base.
If you’re prepared to sustain a few scratches and get muddy, the views are definitely worth the effort.
Fine quality prints are available in my gallery at Fine Art America.
The following photography presents Indian Flats Falls, top-down:
If you enjoy the great outdoors, then I’d highly recommend the hike to Indian Flats Falls. And, plan to spend more time than you might otherwise expect, as you’ll often find yourself stopping to enjoy scenery along the river.
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Located in Cookeville, Tennessee, this waterfall is referred to as City Lake Falls. Smaller than many falls, it’s nevertheless an appealing location to visit – only 1/4 mile from the parking area. Prints available.
Some waterfalls can be visited only after an exhaustive hike over rugged terrain. Others, such as City Lake Falls, are much easier to observe, requiring only 1/4 mile walk through the forest on a paved trail. Located in Cookeville, Tennessee, you can enjoy this waterfall photography on a print from my gallery – all year long!
Located on the Cumberland Plateau along the Blackburn Fork River, near Cookeville, Tennessee, Cummins Falls stands 75-feet tall, representing the eighth largest waterfall (by volume of water) in the state.
Because it’s so popular, the state park has instituted an inexpensive online permitting system, required in advance for all visitors interested in hiking the gorge. The trail to the waterfall is 1.5 miles, and hikers can expect to get wet because, at points, the riverbed is the trail – roughly knee deep.
The area is prone to flash flooding, so children twelve & under must be accompanied by an adult, as well as wear a life jacket while at the falls or swimming. In case of emergency, signs are posted which indicate safe levels during a flood, and there is an evacuation route.
There’s a waterfall overlook (no permit required). Ample parking. Restrooms available. Water shoes recommended. Dogs allowed. Bring your camera to capture an abundance of scenic beauty!
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Located along Fighting Creek Gap Road in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, not far from the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Laurel Falls is a popular tourist attraction.
It’s an easy 2.6 mile out and back hike along a paved trail, though the pavement it quite eroded. Measuring both upper and lower sections of Laurel Falls – which are divided by a railed pathway – the waterfall stands 80-feet tall and provides several scenic viewpoints, if one is willing to climb to the base.
On my visit, I was the first car parked in the lot…by 3 minutes. Capturing photographs without people in the picture requires one to arrive early, so I showed up 1/2 hour before sunrise. Bears are common in this area, though less so once a steady stream of hikers are present. No water. No restrooms.
The trail was completed in 1932 at a cost of $590, providing fire crews access to the Cove Mountain area. Three years later, a fire tower was completed. By 1960, frequent trail use and erosion were problematic, and, as part of the 1963 Accelerated Works Projects grant to the Department of Interior, the trail was paved. Today, with over 800 miles of trails within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, only four trails are paved for a total of three miles.
If you’d like to accent a wall in your home or office with a print featuring my photography, you can visit my gallery at Fine Art America to select the print type which best suits your interests. Many selections available – I hope that you find something to purchase & enjoy!
Located near Spencer, Tennessee, the Rock Island State Park has 883-acres along the Caney Fork, Collins and Rocky Rivers. It also features the rugged beauty of an expansive Caney Fork Gorge.
On my first visit to the park, I learned that, in order to access the base of Great Falls, a 30-foot horseshoe cascading waterfall, one should expect to get wet. Most folks in the gorge on the south side of the Caney Fork River near the waterfall are there to swim in a large plunge pool, sporting water shoes and swim attire. Keeping dry can be difficult and entails carefully navigating a very slippery, narrow and moss-covered non-flat surface.
Recalling my previous experience, I decided that, this time, I’d attempt to access the area via a trail originating from across the river, near the Twin Falls parking area. There were several signs along the way stating, ‘No Access Above Falls’, indicating that I was probably headed in the right direction. Beyond a pond and across a forested hillside, I was able to traverse a series of rocks in the river, which led me to the base of the waterfalls – and, I stayed dry!
Photographs 1 & 2 were taken looking back at the trail which I had hiked moments earlier.
If you’d like to accent a wall in your home or office with a print featuring my photography, you can visit my gallery at Fine Art America to select the print type which best suits your interests.
I hope that you find something to purchase and enjoy for years to come. Thanks for visiting!