With a low water line, this photograph was taken while exploring Little Piney Creek, located on the Cumberland Plateau, near Grandview, Tennessee. Prints available.
With low water during summer months, I decided to leave the trail and explore the great outdoors, following Little Piney Creek upstream toward Upper Piney Falls. Though I later fell on my keister (d’oh!), this decision allowed me to enjoy many beautiful sights in a remote gorge environment.
Case in point, this photograph highlights unusual geological outcroppings, a rocky creek bed (underwater) with surface reflections of overhanging trees, and sunshine streaming from around the bend.
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Enter The Gorge
Located on the Cumberland Plateau near Grandview, Tennessee, Lower Piney Falls stands 40-feet tall and flows from Little Piney Creek. There’s no trail into the gorge, hence the view is usually from the top only. But, where there’s a will there’s a way, and I found my way into a better view. I hope you’ll enjoy my photography, and encourage you to visit my gallery to select a print for your home, office, or perhaps to be given as a gift for family or friends.
Lower Piney Falls is located in the Piney Falls State Natural Area, along Little Piney Creek, near Grandview, Tennessee, on the Cumberland Plateau.
Standing 40-feet tall, it’s a relatively short hike on well-maintained trails, though trail access includes only the top of Lower Piney Falls – unlike the 80-foot tall Upper Piney Falls, where hikers can enjoy trails to both the top and bottom. Dogs (leashed) welcomed. Parking is limited. No restrooms.
On an earlier visit, wanting gorge access to the base of the falls, I wandered along rock walls and gazed down steep hillsides, wondering what was below, beyond my sight. Later, I scoured the internet for personal accounts offered by people who had climbed into the gorge, though no definitive information was available as to the best point of descent.
So, once again I followed rock walls along the upper gorge for quite a distance, until the trail disappeared. There, I decided upon an area that seemed hiker friendly – no observable cliffs or deep ruts, though the hillside was steep. In addition, it had rained all morning, making topsoil slippery. I also encountered several areas of small, unstable rocks covered with leaves. As such, trees provided critical aid for stability. I did fall once, slipping in mud on the hill – but, with experience, I’ve learned to quickly shift my weight toward the side with the dislodged foot, so as to untangle and provide relief for the opposite knee. Fortunately, all I broke was my trekking pole, which was soon replaced with a walking stick.
When I finally reached Little Piney Creek at the base of the gorge, it quickly became apparent that I was downstream quite a distance from the falls, and would have to deal with a variety of conditions; each rock (and rocks were everywhere) was very slippery, covered with a damp brown silt, or moss; many fallen tress – some substantial in size – peppered the creek bed, serving as water-logged and slippery impediments against forward progress; and, each creek bank lacked continuity of flat surfaces, often interrupted with impassable, vertical rock walls or boulders. In such situations, it’s best to sacrifice ones dry feet in order to increase optional hiking pathways. It’s also safer, in that the fewer tall rocks on which my balance is tested, the better.
Along the way, I crossed the creek back-and-forth many times, opting to take the safest (not fastest) routes observable. When I finally arrived at the base of Lower Piney Falls, though the water was less than I’d hoped for, the accomplishment was gratifying, and the falls were beautiful.
Lower Piney Falls
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It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. As applies to my adventure, I very much wished to find another way out of the gorge, not wanting to traverse the hazardous path from whence I came. Fortunately, I was able to ascend the opposite side of the gorge, hike above the rock rim and through the forest to a point beyond Lower Piney Falls. In so doing, I then descended into, and safely across, the creek.
If anyone reading this post is seeking access to the base of Lower Piney Falls, here’s what you do: take the trail to the top of the falls, as normal. Once there, hike upstream approximately 150 feet and cross the creek where you see a few shallow rock ledges. Enter the forest and climb uphill, angling diagonally to the left until you are approximately 40-feet higher than the falls. Continue at this level along the hillside until you find yourself forward of the falls, and beyond the sheer rock wall of the gorge. There is a relatively easy route down and then back along the rock wall, leading you to a rocky hill covered in ferns, at the base of the 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.
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The following photographs of Lower Piney Falls were taken the day after a heavy rainfall…
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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.
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…
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!
This photograph in Tennessee highlights cascades preceding the 40′ high Lower Piney Falls, which empties into a tall, narrow gorge without access.
Here’s a video of the falls, from the top –
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