The DB’s, Kohldad’s, cracked heel had finally healed enough for a short outing so we made plans to meet up at Fall Creek Falls State Park near Spencer TN. We arrived within an hour of each other and settled into a couple sites on the edge of an opening where deer were grazing. Several groups of these graceful creatures, including one nice buck, visited the area in the two evenings we were there.
While he was there, Kohldad switched out a headlight that was damaged in an earlier tangle with a log truck (log truck 1, Kohldad 0). The DB is pretty handy with his tools and had the replacement done lickety split.
The next morning dawned cold and drizzly. Nevertheless, we headed out to see the sights. Our first stop was at a small man-made falls. At this old mill dam site we could see the typical limestone rock of the area. It is made up of many distinct layers and is riddled with cracks and caves.
By now the cold drizzle was pretty steady so we stopped in at the Nature Center. Here we read about the different types of falls contained within the park.
By the time we’d finished browsing through the Nature Center, the drizzle had let up a bit so we walked out to look at some cascades nearby. A swinging bridge crosses the creek here, the start of the Gorge Overlook Trail, but Kohldad wanted to save his strength for the trail down to the bottom of Fall Creek Falls.
Leaving the Nature Center we saw this sign and headed over to check out the stables.
We found them to be quiet and still during this off-season visit.
After a drive down some back roads and a little lunch, we headed over to the namesake attraction of the park, Fall Creek Falls. Recent rains had the falls running at full throttle, churning out waves of mist as the water crashed 257 feet down onto the rocks below. We stood at the overlook a while, enjoying the view, and noticed that the mist would build up until it filled the rocky amphitheater only to be periodically swept out by a breeze.
The mist would sweep down through the gorge below the falls, alternately concealing and revealing details of the bluffs beyond.
Having enjoyed the view of the falls from the top, we headed down a steep trail to the bottom of the falls. The trail is only about a quarter mile long but it drops about 300 feet so it was a good workout for Kohldad’s foot. Here I’m looking back up the trail while the DB gives his foot a break.
As we neared the floor of the gorge, the trail turned upriver and followed along the base of an overhanging bluff. Soon we could see Fall Creek Falls up ahead.
Looking straight up, I hoped a piece of the rotten limestone on the ragged bluff overhead didn’t choose that moment to come crashing down.
Halfway down the trail we passed a family with several small children headed in the other direction. I asked one little girl how the falls were. She responded with a big smile and one word, “wet”. As we drew near I understood what she’d meant. The waves of mist that we’d seen to be periodically wafting down the gorge were actually sheets of spray being driven by gusts of cold downdrafts. The wind-driven drops pelted us and, as we approached the falls, the gusts nearly knocked us off our feet they were so strong. We used an umbrella to block the blasts and were able to snap a few photos before retreating back along the trail.
The steep rocky terrain was giving Kohldad’s foot a good workout.
Back up at the overlook, we took one last look down into the rocky amphitheatre at the innocent-looking maelstrom into which we had just ventured and smiled. That little girl was right, it was WET down there!
The DB and I continued along the Gorge Scenic Drive Motor Nature Trail. We stopped at an unmarked rocky point where Kohldad took a series of photos that, if you ask nicely, he might share with you as a stitched panorama. I have yet to master that art but took a few of my own that I’ll be practicing with.
Our next stop was Millikan’s Overlook. Here we took a short trail to Buzzard’s Roost.
The trail took us out onto a point where we crossed stone bridges over gaping fissures in the rock.
Reaching the end of the point, we got a good view up Cane Creek Gorge. (Oops, actually Pine Creek Gulf.) A pretty enough scene on this cold and cloudy winter day but I’ll bet it is really nice on a sunny fall day. Hmmm, I might just have to plan a return trip to test this theory.
This tenacious pine tree was growing amongst the rocks of the Roost. Don’t know if it had been struck by lightning or what but we could look right through a hole at the bend in the trunk.
With the day nearing its end, the sun finally peaked through the clouds for just a moment. (This one is looking down Cane Creek Gulf.)
With the short winter day drawing to a close, we made one last stop at Piney Falls before heading back to camp.
We finished the day with a few games of Rummicube in which the DB creamed me. During the night I heard the drizzle change over to sleet and the next morning we awoke to a faint dusting of snow.
Kohldad had a full day’s drive to get home so he headed out early.
I only had a half-day drive to get home so I went back to the Nature Center and headed across that enticing swinging bridge onto the Gorge Overlook Trail.
The first stop along the trail is the Cane Creek Falls overlook.
You can see this falls from the Nature Center (building seen in the upper right corner of the photo below) but, while still not ideal, the angle of view of this falls is much better from this viewpoint.
Unlike the Fall Creek Falls overlook, the overlooks on this trail are unimproved. The Park uses cables to try to keep visitors back from the edge where the rocks are crumbling and sliding off at the edge of the bluff. So I stayed safely behind the cable and snapped a couple photos of the main Cane Creek Falls and a smaller side falls. I didn’t need to slip on the slick rocks and share Kohldad’s recent experience … or worse.
I continued on to the Rocky Point overlook. The trail started off easy enough winding through a pine forest.
While I didn’t find any flowers on this winter trip I did find some pretty Christmas holly.
And this lichen that kind of looks like a flower
The trail got rougher …
… dipping down a rock ledge and around an adjoining rock stack.
I finally reached the end of the trail and was rewarded with this view down the Cane Creek gorge, or gulf as they are also called around here.
I could glimpse Fall Creek Falls tumbling from the bluff around on the left side of Rocky Point.
Across from the falls I could see the overlook that we’d visited the day before and the rocks that overhung the trail that loops around to the base of the falls.
After lingering at the Rocky Point overlook for a while, I hiked around to the next overlook, the Fall Creek Gulf overlook.
As I reach the overlook, the sky that had been spitting snow all morning began to pick up the pace. I watched the snowflakes drift down into the rocky depths of the gorge then finally turned back towards the truck to begin the journey home.
What with the poor weather and the time of year, the scenery was not the best on this trip but it was made very enjoyable by being able to share most of it with family. Where to next DB?
2010DEC06 - see addition by Kohldad at the end of Page 2!
We do Fall Creek Falls in the fall... the leaves are colorful, no bugs, nice,
Check out Burgess Falls just south of Cookville,
Also Rock Island state park has water running out of a crack in the mountan ... it's just a little further south than Burgess Falls... the crack is a couple of 100 feet long.... that is a lot of falls, and water
Ozone Falls, between Crossville and Rockwood just off US 70
Virgin falls, just south of De Rossett again on US 70... this one is long and the elevation changes a lot
Laural-Snow SNA near Dayton, TN is nice.
I'll be looking for more reports from you, they are always very good