Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fall Creek Falls State Park, TN

Fall Creek Falls

Heading west on I-40 take exit 322 for TN-101/Peavine Rd toward CrossvilleTurn left onto TN-101 South/Peavine Rd.  Stay on 101 South until you hit TN 30 West.  Turn right and follow TN 30.  Then turn left onto TN-284 W/Park Rd.  Continue almost 7 miles and turn right on Park Rd. 

The second day of our trip we drove 50 minutes to see Fall Creek Falls.  This was a very well developed state park full of attractions and amenities including boating, golfing, lodging, swimming pools, a nature center, and a restaurant.  It is a very gorgeous area that I am sure is packed during the summer.  It would have been more crowded this weekend but the forecast called for thunderstorms all day long.

The first thing I noticed is how large the park really is.  Even after entering the park there was still lots of driving from point to point.  My only complaint about the park was trying to follow the signs.  Signs would point you in the direction of your destination and then as you continue towards it you would hit an intersection with different or no signs.  It seemed like I was left guessing which way to go quite a few times.  Luckily we stopped and picked up a park map from the visitor center when we finally spotted the place.  I would have been lost without it so it really came in handy.

Up first we parked at Fall Creek Falls overlook which also contained the trail to the base.  The overlook was just a short walk to a beautiful waterfall.  The trail down to the base was almost a mile round trip and mostly steps the entire way.  It wasn't very difficult but enough to make you remember the climb back up.  It started pouring so hard on our way down that I had trouble getting off any good shots.  I did get a video from under the umbrella but my better pictures all came from the overlook.

Fall Creek Falls is an amazing 256 ft waterfall plummeting down a beautiful gorge.  Just to the right of Fall Creek Falls is Coon Creek Falls, but the waterflow was so low you could  barely make it out.  The base trail takes you all the way up to the plunge pool where you can walk around the falls on the many rocks.  The area down here is so picturesque that it is well worth the trek down.

Next we headed over to the Nature Center parking area.  From here you can access Cane Creek Cascades by a trail behind the building and also a ways down the road is the cable trail to Cane Creek Falls.  Both trails are short and easy.

Cane Creek Cascades

The coolest thing about the cascades was the swinging bridge above.  It was enough fun that people would just keep walking back and forth.  And even though the signs said no jumping the kids walking by me seemed to enjoy ignoring that warning.  I thought it further enhanced the experience though and it was a lot of fun.

The signs for the cable trail to the base of Cane Creek Falls posted warnings of the many dangers of embarking on the climb.  I didn't think it was that hard at all.  I had climbed up and down steeper areas with out a cable or rope before.  There was only even a couple spots where you really even needed the cable to assist you.  I was more surprised that they built this trail for anyone to go on.  With all the idiots out there I am sure people have done some stupid things and gotten hurt here.  Because even though it was pretty easy you still had to be smart and there were plenty of areas to slip or mess up and get really hurt.

That being said this was my absolute favorite hike in the park.  The climb down and back up was really fun and exciting.  And being just 1/4 a mile each way, it was over before you could get tired.  Also the fact that the rocks were slick from all the rain made it a little more challenging.  It was easily the most memorable part of the day as it led to two great waterfalls that were my favorite ones in the park.

Left to Right: Rockhouse Falls and Cane Creek Falls

Pics from the cable trail:


Most of the trails in the park are fairly short and provide many different spectacular views.  That combined with all the available activities and resort like feel make this Tennessee's most popular state park.  It even has large underground caverns and caves that could be open to the public in the future.  There is tons to do here and it is well worth a visit.  I just think if I make it back I will be sure to go off season and avoid any summer weekends.

Next time I will check out Piney Creek Falls too, but I read that you really cant get a good view of the falls. We had plans that evening and still needed to get to Burgess Falls so we ran out of time.  Also we didn't have time to make it to many of the different overlooks either.  What we did see though was well worth the drive over from North Carolina. 

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