I recently had the opportunity to visit Conasauga Falls, a scenic waterfall located in Tellico Plains, Tennessee. At a distance of 1.3 miles out and back, the trail is rated as moderately difficult with a change in elevation of approx. 400-feet.
The trail has two switchbacks and no level stretches – it’s either all downhill, or uphill on the return. During my visit the creek was full, thereby reducing availability of access to other areas. However, if you wish to proceed downstream along the hillside, there is a minor path but it’s steep and very slippery – use caution!
The 3 mile road to the falls is a combination of paved and gravel, with areas where the pavement has deteriorated, and also deep potholes where the gravel begins. It’s not a major problem, but certainly good advice to drive slowly & steer clear of the hazards.
You can also read about my first visit to Conasauga Falls, last year.
The trail is well kept and easy walking, except toward the bottom where some careful navigation over/around rocks is necessary. Steps finish the trail, leading hikers to the primary viewing area.
Beyond Conasauga Falls and along a muddy embankment, I cautiously found my way to a lower elevation around a slight bend in the creek. I was greeted by the morning sun cresting over the highpoint of the Cherokee National Forest, casting a golden-green reflection from hillside foliage across the shallow water. What a sight!
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The state of Tennessee has many wonderful areas in nature to explore, and I’m usually well-prepared for such adventures – proper clothing and gear, food and water, review of weather conditions, directions, well-rested, etc.. However, it’s not possible to plan for every contingency, as I recently discovered.
Traveling to Farner, Tennessee, my destination was Turtletown Falls. Though the small town lacked clear signage, I happened upon a Postal Carrier who provided me with helpful directions:
Across from the small Post Office, you’ll see an old school that’s closed. Take that road for a few miles until you see a brown sign with an arrow pointing left. Turn there to get to Turtletown Falls.
After turning left, I drove for a mile or two, though was stymied by a one-foot deep stream across the dirt road. In a compact rental vehicle at the time, I wasn’t interested in getting stuck or stalling-out in the middle of nowhere. So, I reluctantly turned around and drove away; alas, no Turtletown Falls.
How About Bald River Falls?
Backtracking, I decided to visit Bald River Falls, a 90-foot falls which feeds into the Tellico River. Along the drive I photographed this interesting covered bridge:
Bald River Falls
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Located near Tellico Plains close to the Cherohala Skyway, the 30-foot Conasauga Falls is a secluded, three-tiered waterfall not far from Knoxville or Chattanooga, Tennessee. The trail is a relatively easy 1.5 mile hike out-and-back, with an elevation gain of 370 feet. And, despite what some people have said online in review of their visit, the gravel roadway to the falls isn’t that bad – just watch for a few deep potholes.
This visit followed an earlier, same day hike to Falls Branch Falls, an adventure organized by my friend, Lara – thanks!
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I recently hiked to the 70′ Falls Branch Falls, a 2.2 mile (roundtrip) trail located in the Cherokee National Forest near Tellico Plains, Tennessee, along the Cherohala Skyway. It was the first of two hikes that day, the second being Conasauga Falls Trail – more on that another time.
I’d like to acknowledge my friend & her dog for making our hiking adventure so much fun – thanks Lara for your great planning!!!
Directions From Knoxville, TN
- take I-40 W / I-75 S to Exit 60 (Sweetwater / Spring City)
- turn left on TN-68 S (New Hwy 68) for 24.4 miles
- turn left on TN-165 E (Cherohala Skyway / Unicoi Turnpike) for 22.4 miles
- parking on left at Rattlesnake Rock
The trailhead is located at the left side of the parking lot, and descends 515-feet to the base of the falls. Along the way, hikers will encounter a sign lacking clarity as to which way to proceed. Fortunately, someone has marked the sign with an arrow pointing left to the falls (see photo, middle):
Toward the end of the trail there is a steep section with loose rocks where hikers should exercise caution, particularly when covered with leaves, or following rain when surfaces may become slippery.
Though no flowers were present along the trail at this time of year, rhododendron plants were in abundance throughout the hike. As such, a return trip to this area in the spring may be in order.
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Located in the Cherokee National Forest of the Southern Appalachian Mountains of east Tennessee, Bald River Falls is where the Bald River, a major tributary, empties into the Tellico River. With an elevation of 90 feet, the falls are visible from the scenic Tellico River Road (Forest Service Road 210), which was built on an old logging railroad bed.
Hiking with my camera, I’m always interested in a variety of perspectives from which to photograph subject matter. In this case, I wanted a view from the top of the waterfall. So, at 55 years old, weighing 235 lbs. and carrying a heavy backpack, I scaled steep, damp surfaces covered with slippery moss, clinging for stability to small trees, roots and fissures in rocks. It was, at times, a challenging climb, only to discover that, once at the top, there was an easier way – an established trail. D’oh!
Following a few days of rain, the Bald River Falls were heavy with water and rumbled loudly through the gorge, splashing mist into the air to cast a rainbow over the plunge pool and road. As such, I repeatedly needed to dry the lens of my camera.
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