Prints available. Black and white photograph featuring dappled light in a dry creek bed at the Window Cliffs State Natural Area, located south of Cookeville, Tennessee.
Standing 20-feet tall and located on Caney Creek in the Window Cliffs State Natural Area, this picturesque waterfall would make a fine addition to an empty wall space in your home. There are a variety of prints to choose from – you can visit my gallery to see more. Other gift and apparel items are also available in my shop at Redbubble.
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Hike To Window Cliffs
One of several areas where hikers are required to cross moving water, Caney Creek winds along the trail to Window Cliffs. If you’d be interested in my photography on a wall at home…
Located on 275-acres only 18 miles south of Cookeville, Tennessee, Window Cliffs is a popular hiking destination…and for good reason!
Designated as a state natural area in 2014, a 5.3 mile out and back trail crosses water on nine occasions, with provision of fixed coated-cables to assist hiker stability while in the water. Hikers should expect to get wet when visiting (it’s impossible not too), traversing creeks with depths up to waist deep. The first creek is the broadest, spanning an estimated 60-feet across.
Proper hiking shoes are essential, and hikers can expect to remove his/her shoes on occasion during the visit, displacing pebbles. In addition, a walking stick or trekking poles are highly recommended.
There are several points of interest along the hike, including creeks, gorge walls, vistas, forests, dried rocky riverbeds, a 20-foot tall waterfall, scenic overlook of Window Cliffs, and where the trail concludes, at the top of Window Cliffs. I plan to return again in autumn to complete the hike, as I unfortunately sustained a minor injury along the way.
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Wow! I’ve hiked many areas in the state, but so far none can compare to the plethora of waterfalls as found along the Laurel-Snow Trail To Laurel Falls, located near Dayton, TN.
From the moment I stepped out my vehicle and on to the trail, the sound of running water was loud, present throughout my hike. Though alltrails.com lists the hike at 6.1 miles out and back, a placard at the trailhead cites the total distance as 5 miles. Whatever the case, I definitely added another mile or two exploring off trail – there were photography opportunities around every corner!
The road into the park is filled (no pun intended) with potholes – it’s somewhat of an obstacles course. Thus, drive slowly with caution around sharp turns near steep hills.
Richland Creek was full, with a wonderful blue-green coloration in deeper pools and dozens of small-to-medium size waterfalls visible from the trail. Other water sources – including Paine Creek – were flowing with waterfalls to enjoy while hiking. Also, huge boulders – some 30 feet tall – periodically peppered the waterside.
The trail, formerly a railroad bed of The Dayton Coal & Iron Company, Limited, was mostly hard-pack dirt and flat, though muddy in areas. Though the trail splits (a white blaze leads left along the creek, and, orange ribbons around trees mark a route into the forest, leading to the right), both trails soon reconnect before reaching a new, aluminum bridge. Thereafter, the trail becomes quite rocky, and signs are posted for Snow Falls (left) and the 80-foot Laurel Falls (right).
If you’d be interested in a print for your home, office, or in the lobby or cafeteria of your business, academic facility or hospital, then please visit my shop at Pixels. Thanks!
See Also: Laurel-Snow Trail To Buzzard Point
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.
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.
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.
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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