I recently visited Soco Falls, a picturesque double waterfall located on the Eastern Cherokee Reservation between Maggie Valley & Cherokee, North Carolina. Visitors can hear the waterfalls from the small parking area, and it’s only a short 5-minute hike to an observation platform.
For a better view, the trail continues downhill to the base of the falls. It’s steep and rocky, with a constant mist in the air keeping the trail muddy, though several ropes have been installed to aid hikers during the descent.
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Although drier conditions prevailed during my first visit to Lower Greeter Falls last autumn, recent rainfall provided for stunning views this time around! Located in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area of Tennessee, it’s a short hike along a moderately difficult trail with elevation changes, rocks and mud.
Flowing from Firescald Creek, Lower Greeter Falls stands approximately 50-feet tall, with access to the base of the falls requiring hikers to traverse a 24-step spiral metal stairwell. Easy enough, and the views are great! With no railing at the top, however, parents should closely monitor children.
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Located in the South Cumberland State Park (30 minutes from Chattanooga, Tennessee, near Sequatchie) Denny Cove Falls is a picturesque 70-foot waterfall on the Denny Cove Branch. Driving two hours from Knoxville, my road trip into the wilderness also included a second stop at Foster Falls – less than two miles away!
Following directions provided through alltrails.com, I soon learned that there wasn’t access to the park via Dawson Springs Road, only several “No Trespassing” signs posted along private, rural properties. Instead, I found a marked entrance further north along US-41, an old gravel road with many deep potholes. Mine was the second car on site, and I was greeted by a family with two small children, as I walked ahead with camera in hand.
The nearly 3 mile out and back hike included diverse trail conditions, ranging from easy walking on hard pack soil through a pine tree forest, to cautious movements along an entirely rock strewn pathway. The trail is rated as moderately difficult, though, had the rocks been damp, it would have been more challenging. Fortunately, trail conditions were dry.
There are a few different trails in the park for hikers to enjoy. Nevertheless, and despite reading reviews suggesting that the falls are often busy, I had the place to myself for 1.5 hours during my morning visit – very peaceful.
Along the return, I met several other hikers on the trail – and, heard many other voices? Looking uphill through the trees at imposing gorge walls, I could see dozens of rock climbers – a popular recreational activity, accounting for the now full parking lot.
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I’ve added a variety of photographs to my gallery from my hike at Denny Cove Falls. Check it out and discover several different print types available – framed, canvas, metal, art, acrylic and/or wood. Thanks for visiting!
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.
Following several days of rain, I had the opportunity to return to the Fall Creek Falls State Park, located in Spencer, Tennessee, which features the state’s tallest waterfall at 256-feet. In contrast to rather dry conditions observed during an earlier visit, the water was substantial – thunderous!
Upon arrival at the Betty Dunn Nature Center (10821 Park Road, Spencer, TN), guests can enjoy two designated areas overlooking Cane Creek Gorge. Here are pictures of Cane Creek Falls (left, 85-feet), and another waterfall. One overlook provides easy access for handicapped visitors, also.
Note: current park renovations include the suspension bridge across Cane Creek – closed until further notice. As such, visitors will need to drive four miles to the parking area at Fall Creek Falls. From there, hiking trails are open – all the way back to Cane Creek. The following pictures highlight the bridge status in June 2019 and January 2020:
Cane Creek Cascades
Fall Creek Falls
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I recently hiked House Mountain, the tallest point in Knox County, Tennessee, located near Corryton. With an elevation of 2,110 feet above sea level, hikers may ascend 1,000 feet from the surrounding valley on either the blue (Mountain) or white (West Overlook) trail.
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I recently hiked four miles with a friend along the Point Trail at Obed Wild And Scenic River, near Wartburg Tennessee, situated on a ridge between the Obed River and Clear Creek. Though autumn foliage was passed-peak, there were several scenic views, especially Jack Rock Falls. See map of Obed.
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Photograph (above, modified) & information (below) from placard located on site.
After the Civil War, saw and grist mills emerged in Tennessee’s Morgan and Cumberland counties. Corn meal, flour, logs, and other goods from the early lumber and pulp industries were shipped along this bridge.
The Cincinnati Southern Railway was built across the Cumberland Plateau here at Nemo in the 1870s. It became part of the Southern Railway system in the late 1890s. Many small extensions like the Catoosa Railroad were built to tap timber, coal, and other natural resources.
The epic flood of 1929 destroyed the means by which workers made a living, ripping up railway lines and washing away virtually every mill and building in its path – just as America sank into the Great Depression.
I recently visited Wartburg, Tennessee, where I enjoyed a 5 mile (roundtrip) hike along the Nemo Bridge Trail to Alley Ford. Located in the Obed Wild And Scenic River National Park, the trailhead begins at the Rock Creek Campground and continues 14.2 miles to the distant Devils Breakfast Table.
The hike to Alley Ford is rated as moderately difficult with several changes in elevation. There is also a very rocky downhill section of the trail near the end which requires deliberate footing. It was a cold 30-degrees when I began the hike, along which I encountered layers of rain-soaked leaves, creating slippery conditions and, periodically, effectively camouflaging the trail.
Along the way I enjoyed seeing many different sandstone cliffs, colorful autumn foliage, a large group of wild turkeys, and, at the end, the Obed River. Due to recent rains, though, many of the river-rocks otherwise visible at Alley Ford were covered in water.
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With both Clingmans Dome (6664′) and Mount Guyot (6621′) located on the border between Tennessee & North Carolina, Mount LeConte is the tallest mountain entirely within the state of Tennessee, at an elevation of 6593′.
One of the most popular hikes within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it features five trails to the summit and has the highest guest lodge in the eastern United States. LeConte Lodge operates via a seasonal airlift of supplies by helicopter in March, and with alternating teams of pack llamas several days each week throughout the season.
My hike began at the Alum Cave Trailhead, located in Seiver County near Gatlinburg, approx. 8 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center along Newfound Gap Road.
I left my home in Knoxville, TN by 6:00 a.m. and returned at 6:15 p.m.. It was 7:53 a.m. when I started on the Alum Cave Trail, and 4:35 p.m. when I finished. All told, I hiked 12 miles and ascended 2700′ along the way.
Passing through Arch Rock, then beyond Inspiration Point, I reached Alum Cave Bluffs and rested to enjoy a peanut butter & raisin sandwich. This spot offers impressive views – including the Eye of The Needle – and is a popular destination for most hikers.
The slopes became steeper, thereafter, periodically revealing splendid views:
And, where useful, steel cables were affixed to the mountain for hiker safety:
Once on top, I continued beyond the lodge, stopping to see High Top – a cairn rock pile marking the 6593′ peak:
Walking along the trail on an edge of the mountain, I could see my destination in the distance – Myrtle Point, the easternmost peak on Mount LeConte:
The expansive, panoramic views here were truly stunning, and very much worth the additional 3/4 mile hike! Flat rocks offered welcomed seating to enjoy an impressive mountain landscape – including Mount Kephart, Charlies Bunion and Clingmans Dome:
Next, I backtracked along the trail until I reached a junction leading to Cliff Top, another vantage point offering excellent views – including Chimney Tops:
On my way back, I stopped at the lodge to use the outhouse, and discovered a comfortable rocking hair on the porch of a gift-shop building. So comfortable, in fact, that it took me nearly 15 minutes to stand-up again and resume my hike down the mountain!
Along the trail, I pondered how nice it would be to have a zip-line for my descent…haha.
Over the course of the day I met the same people on several different occasions, as various trails crisscross between points of interest and hikers, once reaching the summit, are usually in no hurry to leave. Also, many folks have reservations to stay overnight.
The following video was filmed at Myrtle Point:
Though strenuous, I can highly recommend this hike! Make sure you’re well-rested, carry sufficient water, monitor weather reports, and consider using “trekking poles” for added stability.
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I recently hiked to Ramsey Cascades, located in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, not far from Gatlinburg. It was a pleasant day, and I met several interesting people along the trail.
Note: the roads to the trailhead – both Greenbier Road and, especially, Ramsey Prong Road – are in poor condition. Visitors should drive very slowly along these four miles, weaving to avoid deep potholes in the gravel roadway. If you, the reader, work for the Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park system, then please – FIX THE ROADS! Thank you.
The four mile trail to Ramsey Cascades is strenuous, rated as difficult. Hikers will encounter a nearly 2200′ increase in elevation en route to the 100′ waterfall – the tallest in the park! – while enjoying sounds of running water, as the trail follows rushing rivers and streams for much of its length. And, it’s easy to appreciate a continuous canopy of trees to keep cool on a hot, sunny day.
You’ll see a few signs along the way –
And, cross a few bridges –
You’ll also pass through the largest old-growth forest in the Smokies, with some trees topping 150′ –
Footnote: I had the pleasure of interacting on several occasions with three nice women throughout the course of my hike, who shared an interesting story. While resting at the large tree (see above), they joined and informed me that they had observed two copperhead rattle snakes – I saw their iPhone pictures! – in the middle of the trail. What does this mean? Apparently, because I was only a short distance further along the trail, I must have walked right by the snakes without even noticing them. D’oh!
Speaking of the trail, you’d better wear good shoes –
Photographs of Ramsey Cascades
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Located along the Little Soak Creek in Rhea County west of Spring City, Tennessee, Stinging Fork Falls is a picturesque 30′ waterfall in a gorge with a deep, refreshing plunge pool.
The trail to the base of the falls connects with the Cumberland Trail, including a few areas with stairs. Following rain on the day before, I would rate the hike as moderately difficult, given that most surfaces were damp and very slippery. Proper footwear is strongly recommended!
This was my second hike of the day, following a stop at Ozone Falls – more on that another time.
Along the trail, I had the distinct pleasure of sharing the hike with a Jersey Girl who wore a fern in her hair – nice to meet you, Sue 🙂
Here are some scenes I photographed at Stinging Fork Falls:
Home Decor Prints
These photographs of Stinging Fork Falls are available in my gallery at Pixels on a variety of fine prints. Perfect for the home, office, a lobby or cafeteria, select from framed, canvas, metal, art, wood or acrylic print types.
I recently enjoyed hiking to the Lilly Bluff Overlook at Obed Wild And Scenic River National Park, located near Wartburg, Tennessee. Following my visit to Northrup Falls (Allardt, Tennessee), this was a relatively easy hike to undertake along my return drive home. I enjoyed sweeping views from the high rock outcrop of Lilly Bluff, sheer cliffs, the “Jack Rock” waterfall and scenic views of Clear Creek.
There’s so much to see & I’m looking forward to hiking more trails in the park!
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The 2.3 mile trail to Alum Cave Bluffs is located in the Smoky Mountains, approx. 8 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It’s the shortest and steepest of 5 different trails to Mount Le Conte.
Originally mined in 1838 by the Epsom Salts Manufacturing Company for deposits of magnesium sulfate & alum, it’s now a popular hiking area with limited parking – one should plan to arrive early; or, park along the road some distance away.
At lower elevations, the trail meanders alongside the Alum Cave Creek, providing a pleasant and constant sound of running water throughout the forest.
Here are a few photographs –
At 1.4 miles along the trail, hikers have the opportunity to pass through a natural tunnel in the side of the mountain – at Arch Rock. A series of steps with a cable handrail make this a fun, navigable passageway.
Here are some photographs –
Eye of The Needle
As hikers continue up the trail, the sound of water fades and glimpses of the surrounding mountains begin to appear between the trees. Inspiration Point is situated at 4,700′, which, on a clear day, provides an unobscured view of the surrounding landscape, most notably Little Duck Hawk Ridge – which features the Eye of the Needle (a see-through hole cut into the side of the ridge). It is in this area, if you’re lucky, that you might see Peregrine Falcons.
Here are a few shots –
More Scenes From The Trail
Note: it’s not really a cave. Rather, large sandstone bluffs standing 80′ tall, extending 500′ in length, with a substantial ceiling-overhang.
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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.
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Located in Corbin of McCreary County, Kentucky, on the other side of the Cumberland River is Eagle Falls Trail, a 1.5 mile trail along cliffs offering some of the best views of Cumberland Falls (see Road Trip To Kentucky: Part One).
I would rate this trail as difficult, insofar as there are several steep changes in elevation – with 133 steps up to Gorge Overlook, now overgrown and without a view – and uneven hiking surfaces, as seen below:
Note: if you’re interested in hiking this trail, plan to arrive early to secure one of only approx. 15 parking spaces. And, don’t forget your camera!
Sights To See
There are many points of interest to enjoy while hiking Eagle Falls Trail, including:
At one point along my hike, I followed a side trail away from the river and into the forest. When I emerged, it was as if I had stepped back in time – into a ghost town…
Back To The Water
Exiting the forest, I returned back to the river which was lined with many large boulders. Rather than rush to get to the waterfall, I enjoyed the scenery for a spell before continuing on my trek…
…to Eagle Falls –
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