Saturday, February 23, 2013
Lora and I again headed out to find waterfalls on our mountain. We headed to Soddy Daisy to start our adventure.
Just South of the North Chickamauga Creek on Dayton Hwy, there is a trail that heads along the creek. As you look from the road you can see the falls on the left side of the power lines. This is the 140 foot Power Line Falls. The trail is a four wheeler path and it follows the creek. There are a few splits on this trail so when it splits and goes uphill, go uphill. It will get farther from the creek as it goes and then crosses under the power lines and ends at Clear Creek where you will see the 40 foot Clear Branch Falls. We got to see a flock of twelve turkeys walking up the side of the mountain. From here the falls are on your Left and you will see the creek coming down the Mountain side from Power Line Falls on your right which flow into Clear Creek.
You are on your own from Clear Creek as you will have to climb the side of the mountain up to the Falls. It is steep and will work you good. There is no trail. At the top you will find Power Line Falls. To your right from the falls is the bottom of the Power Line Overlook. You will see a blue pickup and an older car that made the flight from the overlook and neither made it very well. If you turn around you will get an aerial view of Soddy Daisy from the base of the falls through the trees.
We ate our lunch on a flat rock up there and then started our steep decent back to Clear Creek. On the way down I hear a high pitch scream and turn around to see Lora doing the log roll down the side of the mountain. Luckily, I was close enough to grab her by the leg and stop her. She doesn't know how she got turned sideways on the slope. You will walk up and down this descent on the side of your feet grabbing anything that you can both ways. Anyway, you will know you did some climbing by the time you get back to your car. We headed off for our next adventure.
Our next water fall was the 110 foot Falling Water Falls which is further South. We took the Pickett Gulf Road off Dayton Hwy to the dead end and parked in a guys driveway who gave us permission.
There is no trail but there is an old roadbed which starts at the South end corner of the clearing at the bottom. Follow the old roadbed as far as you can until you get to the valley of the boulders. The higher you go the easier. We followed Falling Water Creek up to the first branch coming in from the left, Little Falling Water Creek, and started climbing up from there. It was really a rock and boulder climb. Almost to the top you will see the lower falls and from here you can start to see the upper falls. This is a very strenuous climb and very dangerous as the rocks are slippery. When you get to the base of the falls it will be worth the work.
For the trip back we just headed East to get out of the boulder field as soon as we could and then headed back down hill to catch the old road bed.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Sawtooth Overlook and back 7 miles
Dead Deer Arch
Rock Creek Loop 9 miles
Parker Mountain Trail 0.6
Buffalo Arch 0.5
Total Miles: 17.1
Off to Big South Fork we went with an adventure in mind. We started off on the Map listed as Hicks Ridge Trail and Sawtooth Ridge Trail. In the book it is listed as Laurel Fork of North White Oak Creek. Anyways the trailhead is on Darrow Ridge Road and the sign says 3.5 miles to Sawtooth Overlook. Just up the trail is a new trail "Darrow Ridge Horse Trail" that goes 2.1 miles East to Hippy Cave.
Our trail is old road bed which passes a cool looking rock wall on the left. The Wild Cat Den is at 0.6 miles, which is a large rock shelter which has opening in the roof making it a natural arch in formation. From there you ford the Laurel Fork on pavers. Even at 24 degrees outside, the calf deep creek felt cold. The roadbed goes up the other side with a steady climb. When you get to the top you will find the longest straight trail in the BSF. We hung a right at the intersection with the Sawtooth Ridge Trail and headed out to the overlook. The trail to the left is supposed to go out to what Google shows as Montgomery Lane off 154.
The Sawtooth Canyon is totally different than any other in the BSF. From the air it would look like a saw blade with the teeth facing each other from both sides of the canyon. The Laurel fork works it way back and forth between the high rock walls of the canyon. We walked one of the teeth out to the end. It started snowing on us there and we had a couple of white outs as we were eating our lunch. Then we followed our trail back to the car. We did not find the trail listed on the map as Pond Ridge Trail.
Next we were going to drive down to Hippy Cave. Just past the Sawtooth trailhead there is alot of roads built for land that was for sale. Maybe a quarter mile down the road turned into a mud pit with a field on the side. We stopped and walked around the mud pit and saw that the road continued along the side of the field but you would need a tractor or a good four wheel drive to make it. We saw a trail heading into the woods and followed it for a bit and it connects to the new trail Darrow Ridge Horse Trail. So we called this adventure off. All the other trails off Darrow Ridge Road must be for hiking in dry weather only. Maybe mid summer.
Next on our agenda was Dead Deer Arch. This is an unmarked arch with no path going to it. A hunter found it while looking for a deer. The deer fell in the crack that makes the arch. We found it in the book. We drove the 1.8 miles up Divide Road and pulled off to the left. We found the two signs on the post for the Pickett State Forest and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and started our bush whacking for the 0.1 miles down into the gorge. Lora found a rock wall on the right with an opening so we headed that way. After we explored the area around the creek and did find a small waterfall, we decided that we were in the wrong area.
On the way in I thought I saw a large rock wall over the next hill so we went and followed the next draw back up towards the road. Here we found the arch. It has a 40 foot span and is higher than the advertised 18 feet high as you can tell from our pictures. After exploring the area, we headed up the North end of the arch and in about fifty feet we were back on the road and came across a tree with the same signs. So if your looking for this arch, it is between 1.7 and 1.8 from TN 154 and look in the woods for the drop off you can see about 50 feet into the woods. Go in by the tree with the two signs. This is before you get to Watson Branch Road.
Next on the agenda was 9 mile Rock Creek Loop. We hiked it clockwise to get to a campsite with water within a mile. There was a group of Boy Scouts camping across the street from the Southern trailhead. We parked up the road at the main trailhead and walked the road back to the Southern trailhead. There was about a half inch of snow on the ground when we started.
We dropped down into the gorge and to Rock Creek. There was a campsite at the junction with the JMT so we made it ours. We collected alot of wood for the 19 degrees it was going to get down to. We had a peaceful evening with a clear sky, lots of stars, and a moon so bright we didn't need flashlights.
The next morning we continued our hike of Rock Creek. We were looking for the intersection of Coffee trail from across the creek, but never saw it. It was another plan that we were considering as a trail into the Rock Creek loop. We also found out that the Sheltowee has been rerouted for anyone that has hiked it. It used to end at Pickett State Park, but now it is following the JMT and crosses over to the Charit Creek Lodge and goes back to the JMT and on to Leatherwood Ford.
The Rock Creek Loop is a beautiful trail covered with rock walls, the creek, a waterfall, and lots of green. We had lots of icicles too this time of year. The prettiest section is the rail bed out of the gorge with the waterfall and rock walls. We passed four backpackers from Ohio along Rock Creek and one bicycle rider on the last section before the graveyard.
Now for the Buffalo Arch. We drove back out to TN 154 and drove North past Pickett State Park. We passed the trailhead for Coffee Trail which is a gated road, and headed into Kentucky to FR 562. The first road to the right off FR 562 is the Parker Mountain trailhead. You follow this trail 0.3 miles and the Buffalo Arch trail is a 0.25 mile spur trail off to the right. This is an amazing looking arch as it comes off the end of a rock wall. It spans 82 feet and is higher than the advertised 19 foot clearance as you can see in our pictures.
So back to car as time runs out for this weekends adventures. Life is Great!
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Clear Branch Short Loop: 6.6 miles
Lora and I decided to do a quick hike after church and try to beat the rain. Well we didn't get to beat the rain, but we did have a good hike. We took the Flipper Bend Trail in the N. Chickamauga Creek WMA State Natural Area to the 1.8 mile Clear Creek Short loop. You really need to pay attention to the trail markers on the Flipper Bend access trail as there are many road beds and trails through this area. We did the short Clear Creek Short loop which they advertise as 6.6 miles. It is a pretty walk through the woods and along Clear Creek. We will have to go back and do the rest of the trails.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
I went to Big South Fork Saturday to hike with the Upper Cumberland Chapter of TTA. Talking to Craig along the way and he was asking the usual questions of “did you remember your….” and I thought I did remember…Only when I was almost to the park I started looking for my wallet……no wallet. I called Mom to go to my house to see if I dropped it somewhere between the house and the car or the mailbox. She found it in the garage and offered to bring it to me. (two hour drive) I declined the offer and watched my speed from that point.
I started down the Divide Road and was almost to the trailhead when I saw a ditch in the road. I stopped and thought “what would Craig do?” and drove thru it slowly only dragging the hitch coming out of it. Then found 4 more ditches dug into the road. I got to the trailhead and no one was there. I waited a while and started wondering if the others might not be able to get thru the ditches. I drove back to look for them, met up with a couple of hunters with their dogs. I asked about the ditches in the road and they explained about water bars. They must be expecting floods. I found the other hikers, warned them about the ditches and turned around to follow them back to the trailhead. We managed to get thru without losing a muffler or oil pan.
There were 7 hikers ready to get on the trail with Kathleen leading the way. We hiked the Longfield Branch Trail to No Business Creek and crossed in our sandals. Pete showing us a better way, used plastic bags over his boots. We hiked the JMT up to the JMT overlook then back to the No Business Trail. We reminded Kathleen that our lunches were calling to us so we stopped along the creek to eat. We saw old homesites and one had daffodils budding and one blooming in early February!
Then on to Maude’s Crack where we followed Pete up and thru, then a view from the top. We followed Maude’s Crack Trail back to the cars. We found firewood in the parking lot and Lillian the engineer came up with the idea to use the firewood to put in the ditches to try to keep our vehicles from dragging so much. They put this plan into action with Lillian and Richard placing the wood, letting us drive across and then taking the wood to the next ditch. In and out of the van till we got thru all 5 ditches. I told Lillian she should get a job with TDOT.
The others headed on to another adventure at the Twin Arches and I headed home, without my license, driving responsibly and not stopping for ice cream, boo hoo. My fellow hikers did offer to give me money if I needed some, I knew I had enough water, a snack and enough gas to get home. Wasn’t thinking about ice cream until I passed the Sonic in Crossville. Lesson learned.