Tag: trails

Piney Falls State Natural Area

Nature, Photography June 15, 2019

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.

Waterfalls

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.

Prints

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.

Thanks for stopping by!

Eagle Falls Trail, Kentucky

Nature, Photography May 23, 2019

Road Trip To Kentucky: Part Two

Eagle Falls Trail

Eagle Falls

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

Consider A Print For Your Home

Framed, canvas, art, acrylic, wood, metal – there are several print types available in my gallery at Pixels to adorn the walls of your home, or office! Alternatively, you may select from a variety of other merchandise options in these categories – home decor, lifestyle, beach, greeting cards, stationary, phone cases, apparel and coffee mugs.

Here’s a short video of Eagle Falls

Consider A Print For Your Home

Middle Prong Trail

Nature, Photography May 16, 2019

Introduction

Located in the Tremont section of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, the Middle Prong Trail is 8.2 miles roundtrip, with Indian Flats Falls at the 4.1 mile mark. It then becomes the Greenbrier Ridge Trail, which leads to the Appalachian Trail.

Turning on Tremont Road, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is 2.2 miles at the stop sign, providing restrooms and a small gift shop (maps, t-shirts, hats, etc.). Continue another 3.1 miles along a gravel road to reach the trailhead.

History

The Middle Prong Trail was originally a railroad bed used by the Little River Railroad & Lumber Company, based in Townsend, Tennessee, which was one of the largest commercial logging operations in southern Appalachia, in operation for 38 years until 1939, with 150 miles of railroad. Visitors can find more information available at the Little River Railroad Museum web site.

“Best waterfall hike in the Smokies”

Having read this quote at hikinginthesmokies.com, I was encouraged to organize my gear and hike the area. Also, recent rainfall boded well for active streams. Following my adventure, I concur with the aforementioned sentiment!

Immediately after crossing a footbridge over the river, the trail forks – stay to the left to follow the river. Over the next 4.1 miles, elevation gain is 1140′ along a trail that I would rate as moderate in difficulty – some of the trail includes rocky terrain, and watch out for horse droppings (equestrians allowed).

Watch your step!

Present for the entire hike were the pleasant sounds of running water echoing through the forest, from the river as well as several smaller waterfalls – including:

Lynn Camp Falls

Lower Lynn Camp Falls

Lower Lynn Camp Falls was spectacular! At approx. 1/2 mile from the trailhead, this 35′ waterfall sends water crashing downward along a multi-tiered mountainside. While cognizant of safety concerns, one may traverse its ledges for a closer view.

Without further adieu, here’s a short video of Lower Lynn Camp Falls:

If you’d be interested in prints featuring photographs of Lower Lynn Camp Falls, then please visit my gallery at Pixels to see more. Select from these options: framed, canvas, art, wood, metal or acrylic.

Here are a few examples of what you’ll find:

Upper Lynn Camp Falls

Back on the trail for less than 100 yards, hikers encounter the Upper Lynn Camp Falls. Though not as tall, this picturesque waterfall features interesting rock structures channeling the scenic Lynn Camp Prong. It’s also possible to climb near the falls, but please be aware of prevailing – potentially hazardous – surface conditions.

Here’s a short video of Upper Lynn Camp Falls:

A variety of prints featuring photographs of Upper Lynn Camp Falls are available in my gallery at Pixels.

Enjoy the outdoors → inside your home:

Back On The Trail

Returning to my trek, it wasn’t easy to stop marveling at the abundant beauty of the river, though I did enjoy additional points of interest along the way.

Sights along the trail:

Indian Flats Falls

Following several switchbacks and an increase in elevation, I observed an offshoot of the trail tucked behind a leafy-bush. It certainly wasn’t obvious and there were no signs to follow, but I knew that I must be close to Indian Flats Falls, so I turned right and proceeded into the forest. This was a much more difficult, albeit brief, section of the trail. If you make the hike, prepare to climb over and under downed trees, and exercise caution moving across larger, moss-covered rocks.

Upper & Lower Indian Flats Falls

When I arrived at Indian Flats Falls, I was the only person on site for the next 1/2 hour. This allowed me the leisure of taking several photographs, as well as finding a seat to enjoy my packed-lunch (peanut butter sandwich, banana, energy bar, h2o).

Indian Flats Falls actually has three sections; however, the bottom section was not accessible – and, the Lower Indian Flats Falls does require a rather difficult descent.

Here’s a short video of both Upper & Lower Indian Flats Falls:

Several prints of Indian Flats Falls are available in my gallery at Pixels – with customization options, allowing you to make it your own!

Here are some examples:

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post highlighting the beauty of nature, as found along the Middle Prong Trail. It certainly was a wonderful experience, and I’d recommend it to anyone in the area interested in hiking.

Thanks for stopping by ~ enjoy the great outdoors!

Frozen Head State Park

Frozen Head State Park

Nature, Photography April 4, 2019
Map of Frozen Head State Park

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:

Map of Frozen Head State Park

There were several points of interest along the hike, including the following:

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:

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:

Make sure you carry a walking stick, and…

Enjoy the Cumberland Mountains!

Hiking Knoxville, Tennessee

Nature, Photography January 24, 2019

As a follow-up to two previous posts…

Yesterday I visited Ijams Nature Center a second time, hiking around Mead’s Quarry Lake along a 1.1 mile trail known as Tharp Trace

Looped trail, steep in places. Named after Minnie Tharp who championed the restoration of Mead’s Quarry. Views of the lake and Mt. LeConte, plus the historic Stanton Cemetery, punctuate long stretches of woodland canopy along the trail above the cliffs.

This sign greets hikers at the beginning of the trail –

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

After a short walk along the north edge of Mead’s Quarry Lake, the trail inclines for a more strenuous hike. In some areas, stone steps and the roots of trees provided helpful footholds along a damp, slick path –

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

Here are some more photographs I shot along the Tharp Trace trail –

 

Near the end of the hike, an informational display provides an historical perspective of the early years at the quarry, including these two black & white photographs –

Despite overcast weather, the temperature was tolerable and I had a very nice hike through the woods. On my way back to the parking lot, I passed a few more spots beckoning to be photographed –

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN
Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

Enjoy the great outdoors in Knoxville, Tennessee!

Ijams Nature Center In Knoxville, TN

Nature, Photography January 9, 2019

I recently visited Mead’s Quarry Lake, part of the Ijams Nature Center, a 315-acre park along the Tennessee River in Knoxville, where I hiked various trails for a few hours. One of my favorites was the Ross Marble Quarry Loop, which included the Keyhole. A sign along the trail read:

If you take the time to look around, you will find large blocks of limestone strewn about this abandoned quarry pit and the wall that surrounds the Keyhole. Operations began in the early 1900s on the property originally known as the John M. Ross Quarry. The quarrying involved removing overburden, drilling the marble to form large blocks, prying the blocks from the rock face, lifting them using derricks and cables and transporting them out for cutting and polishing elsewhere.

Additional information included the following:

Mead’s Quarry Rail Line. FYI Railcars moved the large marble blocks to the nearby Tennessee River along rail spurs via adjacent Mead’s Quarry. During the 1920s, operations shifted to the Williams Lime Manufacturing Company, which is an indication that the large-scale marble extraction had tapered off.

When I came across the area called the Keyhole, I looked down to see a pathway leading to two sets of stairs. Recent rains had left the ground damp and the clay-mud dangerously slick. And, with moss growing everywhere, I decided to proceed with caution.

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

Winding my way across ledges, over rocks and around puddles, I could finally see the Keyhole at the base of a 40′ wall of stacked rocks. It was an impressive sight to be sure, no small undertaking.

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

Standing at the entrance, I felt small among the many massive boulders. The passageway itself was probably 7′ from floor to ceiling, a scale not apparent in these pictures.

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN
Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

On the other side, I encountered Sasquatch! Just kidding, but there were surprises around every corner. I was greeted by the sun brightening the surrounding landscape, and I descended a series of steps toward the bottom of the quarry.

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN
Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN
Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

Standing in the middle of the forest while surrounded by walls made of large blocks of limestone was certainly an unusual and interesting way to spend the afternoon. And I wasn’t alone, either, meeting several people who were also visiting the area for their first time. Which brings me to my advice – if you have time, the weather is decent and you’re in the area, I suspect you’ll enjoy hiking this quarry!

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

I’d also recommend hiking the Haworth Hollow trail – more on that another time…