I photographed this interesting geological structure while hiking in Tennessee, at Piney Falls State Natural Area. Located on the ceiling of an overhang from a gorge-wall, these outcroppings represent the end result of erosion, where small amounts of water seeping through sandstone over time have deposited minuscule amounts of mineral – creating these downward structures – before succumbing to gravity; whereby a scattered array of indentations in the hardened ground may be observed.
I recently enjoyed hiking the 440-acre Piney Falls State Natural Area, located in Rhea County where Little Piney and Soak Creek have carved deep gorges into the Cumberland Plateau. It’s recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Interior as a National Natural Landmark, one of fourteen in Tennessee, featuring rare virgin forests.
If you’d be interested in visiting the park, here’s a map:
Note: there are no restrooms or gift shop, and limited signage.
There are two waterfalls at the park, Upper and Lower Piney Falls.
Upper Piney Falls is 80′ high, the top of which is easily accessible by trail. It features a concave ledge which circles behind and around the falls where visitors can enjoy an awe-inspiring view of the gorge below. Getting to the plunge pool, however, is more difficult; in addition to traversing a narrow trail along the upper rim of the gorge, hikers must then descend a steep, rocky surface, safeguarded to some degree via provision of connected cable for support. Exercise caution!
Here are some photographs of Upper Piney Falls –
Here’s a short video of Upper Piney Falls –
Following the trail down to Lower Piney Falls, which stands 40′ high, hikers arrive at the top of the falls for a picturesque view into a taller, narrow gorge. Unfortunately, there are no trails to access the plunge pool nor lower slopes below, which feature an old growth forest of tall white pines and eastern hemlocks.
If you’d like a print for your home or office, then please visit my gallery at Pixels. There you’ll discover a variety of options – framed, canvas, art, metal, wood, acrylic – in addition to general merchandise items.
On a recent hike in Fall Creek Falls State Park, I visited the base of the falls, and, afterward, exited the gorge by following along the (nearly) dry creek bed – later, I would climb a hill to reacquire the trail. Today, I added this nature photography to my gallery at Pixels. Stop by for a visit!
This is my third & final post highlighting Tennessee’s Fall Creek Falls State Park. I’d recommend this park for anyone interested in hiking and/or photography. Consider planning your visit following a period of rain, so that waterfalls will be robust.
Having enjoyed both Cane Creek Falls and Cane Creek Cascades, I was ready to continue my journey. Across Cane Creek, I found the trail rough at times, though could soon hear the sound of falling water emanating from the next gorge ahead.
At an impressive 256-feet, Fall Creek Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States. Here are photographs as I approached the falls & gorge:
Here’s a view of Fall Creek Falls, as seen from the designated observation platform:
It’s difficult to convey the true sense of enormity of this gorge and waterfall, so I’ve included the following photographs of people at the base of the falls. The red arrow shows a woman with a backpack, then a closer view moments later via zoom lens:
Before beginning my descent into the gorge, I took a few more photographs from the observation platform:
The walk down to the base of the falls was the most difficult stretch of trail I’d encountered at this park, with plenty of opportunities to trip or twist an ankle. Be careful! Here are a few examples, and also a couple waterfall photographs:
I’ll no doubt be adding more random photographs from my hike at Fall Creek Falls State Park to my gallery at Pixels, over time. In the meantime, stop by for a visit to see some great prints suitable for your home or office!
Frozen Head State Park is situated in the beautiful Cumberland Mountains of Eastern Tennessee. The mountainous terrain varies from an elevation of 1,340 feet to over 3,000 feet on 16 different mountain peaks, with 13,122 acres of relatively undisturbed forest containing some of the richest wildflower areas in the state (better viewed during summer months).
A short 45-minute drive from Knoxville, Tennessee, I recently visited the park to hike the Chimney Top Trail, a steep, rugged trail with giant sandstone caprock and natural vista. It’s a 3.5 mile trek to the top with a total gain in elevation of 3,460 feet, as hikers ascend two separate mountains along the trail. Total time: 6 hours.
Here’s part of the Frozen Head State Park map featuring the Chimney Top Trail:
There were several points of interest along the hike, including the following:
Layers of Sandstone
Rocks Near Top
The challenges to this hike were several. First, the distance: 3.5 miles each way. Second, the mind – that is, after hiking up a mountain for 50 minutes, it’s somewhat discouraging to then be faced with having to hike down the backside, losing gains in elevation, only to then be greeted by an even taller mountain. Lastly, the finish: towards the top, hikers encounter the trail’s only flat surface along a ridge; however, this is short-lived, as the final stretch is by far the most difficult.
During this final stretch, glimpses on the rocky top can be seen through the forest:
Hikers must climb the sandstone caprock using one of several pathways, in order to enjoy the wonderful view from the peak of Chimney Top Mountain – seen here:
Chimney Top Mountain
View of Bird Mountain
This is a topographic computer simulation of Bird Mountain, as seen from the top of Chimney Top Mountain, provided in the park map:
Finally, I shot this panoramic video with my iPhone as I walked across the caprock: