Rock Island State Park

Great Falls During Heavy Flow~ Great Falls During Heavy Flow (The Dam was open.) ~

Spring Castle~ Spring Castle ~

Cotton Mill~ Cotton Mill ~

Early Blossom~ Early Blossom ~

Black & White Twin Falls~ Twin Falls ~

Little Falls~ Little Falls ~

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Fly Away

Have you ever felt like you could crawl out of your skin, so antsy that sitting still simply is not an option? I woke up that way yesterday, but it was more than that. It was like an internal desperation to “get away,” to distract myself from whatever it was I was feeling. I have no label for this feeling except uncomfortable. The song “Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz kept running through my mind.

Rather impulsively, I decided to go for a drive, a long drive. I ended up at a park I’ve never explored, Savage Gulf State Natural Area, in Monteagle, Tennessee. It’s huge, 15,590 acres, with 50 miles of hiking trails according to tn.gov. Apparently, there are several entrances to different areas of the park. The first stop, off of TN-399 W, felt a little creepy. I was the only one there, kind of creepy, not to mention the restroom had a definite “Twin Peaks” feel. That thought made me laugh. I’m wishing, now, I had taken a photo of that restroom. Next time.

The trailhead at this abandoned ranger station (I say abandoned, but I’m sure it was simply closed for the day) warned of high bluffs and required signing-in before hiking. When it comes to hiking, I have absolutely no problem hiking by myself. Maybe that’s not always wise, especially on the more treacherous trails I’ve hiked alone; but I refuse to give in to any fear that restricts my love for nature or need for sunshine, fresh air, and exercise. Often, I hike for the spiritual or emotional release that only time alone can offer. However, something felt “off” about this spot; so I trusted my intuition and chose not to hike there. I didn’t feel safe. Also, it was already kind of late in the afternoon; and I wanted to check out a couple of other areas on the other side of the gorge.

Like so many parks in this area, there were a number of waterfalls, according to the trail map. On the other side of the park, off of Highway 56 (a very curvy, yet FUN road to drive!), I noticed a much shorter trail on the map to Greeter Falls. After arriving at the parking area, again — I was the only one there, I gave myself a few moments to get a feel for this spot.

Greeter Falls Parking Area Sign

I felt comfortable enough to hike the entire 1 mile loop. Oh, my goodness, I am so glad I did! It was positively gorgeous!

Greeter Falls #2Greeter Falls, Savage Gulf State Natural Area

 Boardtree FallsBoardtree Falls, Savage Gulf State Natural Area

According to the pamphlet,

Greeter Falls Loop Trail: This loop leads to three waterfalls, numerous bluffs, and two historic sites. Terrain is very rocky under the bluffs and easy above. (0.8 miles)

Falls Loop

I didn’t hike the .5 miles out to Blue Hole which was off the main path. I’m wondering if Blue Hole was the 3rd waterfall because I only saw Greeter Falls and Boardtree Falls. I also only saw one of the two historic sites, what looked like ruins of an old structure, possibly a house. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of it, now; and I failed to get a decent photo.

Spiral Staircase #1

The only part of this particular trail that gave me pause for concern was the spiral staircase leading down to the base of the waterfall. Don’t get me wrong, it was good and sturdy, but nerve wrecking for someone with a fear of heights. I hugged that center pole the entire way up and down!

Spiral Staircase #2

I would describe much of the Greeter Falls Loop Trail as a moderate hike as a bit of maneuvering over rocks is necessary between Greeter Falls and Boardtree Falls.

Rock Wall

There were also some slick spots due to mud (wear old shoes). We’ve had a lot of rain lately, so it was super muddy.

Greeter Falls #1

I regret not having more time to spend out there. I wanted to be sure I returned to the parking lot long before sunset, though. I made the hike pretty quick, in about 45 minutes, stopping only to admire each waterfall for about 5 minutes or so each. The path is marked with white reflectors (some may have been blue) which turned into a game of “Where’s Waldo?” Had it not been for those markers I probably would have turned back a couple of times because it’s easy to lose sight of the trail given the rugged terrain.

I also kind of regret not taking the time to stop by Stone Door, “a 10 ft. wide by 100 ft. deep crack, forming from the top of the escarpment into the gorge below.” [Source: Savage Gulf] There just wasn’t enough time yesterday. It’ll be nice to have that as a surprise for next time, though. I really want David to see this park; so hopefully, we can plan a day trip together soon to explore Savage Gulf a bit more.

Special note should you decide to visit this park: wear bug repellant. David pulled a tick out of my hair early this morning before bed. I hate it when I bring home hitchhikers! 😉 Next time, I’ll wear my hair up with a baseball cap.

Another Hitchhiker

Autumn at Burgess Falls State Park

The Middle Falls

I thought I would share a few photos from this past Monday’s hike at Burgess Falls State Park. The autumn colors are beautiful there this time of year. My guess is that this cold snap we’re entering into today will have the remaining leaves changing rather quickly. It was most certainly a cold, wet, nasty day outside today, but Monday’s hike couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. I hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween!

Burgess Falls in Autumn #1 Burgess Falls in Autumn #2Cliff Wall Cascades

Ridge Top Trail Sign

Ridge Top #1 Ridge Top #2

Burgess Falls Dam

Downstream

Above the Dam

Autumn Flagpole Setting Sun

And Finally, Burgess Waterfalls

Burgess Falls - Main Waterfall #2

Burgess Falls – Main Waterfall #2, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

These last 3 photos complete my visit to Burgess Falls on April 1st. I have more photos of this waterfall than any other in my area because I visit it so regularly. I’m obsessive about photographing it. I know this, but I’m also fascinated by the differences in each photo I have taken. These differences are subtle on some days, quite dramatic on others. No two visits have rendered the exact same photo, e.g. June 6, 2010, visit and October 5, 2012, visit. Going back through my photos, I found 9 different visits, most of which have no photos uploaded at this time. At the risk of being redundant, I’m not even sure if I should upload the remaining previous visits. At some point, I would like to have a photo representing each month of the year, perhaps, for a future calendar. It’s a little harder to get out there, though, during the winter months, especially if there’s snow and ice. However, my collection won’t be complete without one or two of those.

 Burgess Falls - Main Waterfall #1

Burgess Falls – Main Waterfall #1, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

Obviously, the flow of water depends on the amount of rain we’ve had. I thought maybe there were some larger dams upstream from Burgess Lake that might contribute to the stronger flows; but after looking over Google maps, it appears that Falling Water River flows into Center Hill Lake, not the other way around, lol. Not only do I have no sense of direction, but I think my understanding of potamology is a little off, too.

 Burgess Falls - Middle Waterfall

Burgess Falls – Middle Waterfall, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

I hope you guys enjoyed this series of photos over the last week and a half. Please, share your thoughts and suggestions. For me, taking the photos is the easy part, the fun part. Coming up with something to write about them, on the other hand, well, that’s a lot harder for me. Words just aren’t my “thing.” I suppose I could have just simply shared the images, but I think it’s important to constantly challenge myself in this way.

Day 148 Cummins Falls

Day 148 Cummins Falls by pixygiggles
Day 148 Cummins Falls, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

Cummins Falls State Park is Tennessee’s newest addition to the state’s gorgeous natural area preserves. Cummins Falls has been a local favorite to the Cookeville area for years, so I’m told; but it officially opened up to the public this past Wednesday. Today was the first time David and I hiked out there and we had a blast!

This 211-acre park is located at 1225 Cummins Mill Road, Cookeville, TN 38501. The hours of operation are from 8:00am CT until sunset, year-round. The waterfall is part of the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River and drops 75 feet (Cordell Hull Watershed). A word of caution for anyone interested in hiking at this park: as it is a newly acquired property, the trails are very rustic. If you follow the trail to the bottom, be prepared to walk through the river and over a lot of boulders and rocks.

David’s sharp eyes were constantly scanning these rocks for fossils. He found several really nice ones. (Take only photos; leave only footprints behind.)

As always when I hike, I’m looking for anything that catches my eye. The above Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail allowed me to get very close for a photo as did the crayfish in the photo below. I did have to chase the crayfish for a few minutes, though, before it finally settled down enough to allow me a good photo opportunity.

The water is pretty shallow out there, but it’s perfect for swimming. After the hike down, a nice cool swim is a wonderful reward, especially on a day as hot as today! David was brave enough to stand under the main falls. He said, “It felt like 30 big guys pounding on me!” I didn’t want to lose my bikini, so I was content just swimming around.

Instead of hiking back the way we came, we decided to climb straight up the side of the bluff using the rope guides. Even with my fear of heights, can I just say, that was so much fun! The couple behind us made my day. I hope when I am 72 years old I can still climb up the side of cliff like that! Fantastic! It was truly a great day and look forward to many more trips out to Cummins Falls.

For more information about Cummins Fall State Park visit ~ Tennessee State Parks: Cummins Fall State Park.

The local newspaper, the Herald Citizen has an excellent write up about the park here: Herald Citizen – Cummins Falls a state park  by Megan Trotter

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Known for the highest free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi River, Fall Creek Falls, a 256 foot plunge waterfall, is just one of several waterfalls located at this park.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Fall Creek Falls State Park, located in Pikeville, TN. This park offers a wide variety of natural beauty and some of the most spectacular views I have come across in all my years of hiking. I left this park in awe and look forward to future visits. Covering 20,000 acres of land across the eastern ridge of the Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee, this park offers 34 miles of hiking trails, 18 miles of bike trails, camping, fishing, swimming, a golf course, horse stables, nature center, picnic facilities, playgrounds, sports fields and much more. There is also a restaurant on site that overlooks Fall Creek Lake. It offers a buffet style meal that was an excellent end to a wonderful day of hiking.

Cane Creek Falls (85 foot plunge waterfall)

Cane Creek Cascades (45 foot cascade)

Rockhouse Falls (125 foot plunge waterfall)

The smaller waterfall to the right of Fall Creek Falls (the larger waterfall), called Coon Creek Falls, is a 250-foot plunge waterfall.

And there’s also Piney Creek Falls (95 foot waterfall) which I just didn’t have time to visit last weekend. I also have to add that the overlooks at this park are simply amazing. Sitting on the rock ledge of the Cane Creek Gorge Overlook, I felt so small. I sincerely don’t believe that any words I can use to describe my feelings about this experience could convey the majestic splendor of that beauty, but I will say that this experience left me in awe and feeling privileged to behold what I can only describe as magnificent.

For more information about Fall Creek Falls State Park, please visit the Department of Environment & Conservation’s website on TN.GOV or the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. To view more of my photos from this trip to Fall Creek Falls please visit my Flickr Set: Fall Creek Falls State Park.

And as always, Thank You for visiting & come back again!

Burgess Falls State Park

It’s been a hectic past couple of months with a move to Cookeville, TN from Nashville.  Cookeville is a pretty little town conveniently located to Knoxville, Nashville, and Chattanooga with a population of 23,923 according to the 2000 census. I’m quite taken by its natural beauty and small-town friendly atmosphere. This past weekend was the first chance my boyfriend and I had to get out and go exploring a bit, so we decided to head out to Burgess Falls State Park located 11.2 miles south of Cookeville. Hiking is one of my favorite outdoor activities, and I could not have been more pleased with this park’s 1.5 mile (round trip) main hiking trail. This hiking trail parallels the Falling Water River as it drops approximately 250 feet over 4 breathtaking waterfalls.

[Click on the images to view larger.]

The Falling Water River Cascades (20ft)

The Upper Falls (30ft)

The Middle Falls (80ft)

The Lower Falls (136ft)

If anyone is in the Middle Tennessee area and is looking for an awesome day-trip, I would definitely recommend a visit to Burgess Falls State Park to take in the awe-inspiring natural beauty of this river. Note that the trails are considered moderate in difficulty and bikes, horses, etc. are not permitted. For more information visit:

TN State Parks: Burgess Falls State Park

Park Hours of Operation:
8:00 a.m. until 30 minutes before sundown when gates are closed.
Park is closed when the river is high or when there is snow on the roads and/or trails.

Added Friday, June 25, 2010: This is a video I put together of some short clips I took while at the park. Music: The Water Is Wide, by David Modica http://magnatune.com/artists/albums/modica-water/

Added Friday, June 25, 2010:

This is a video I put together of some short clips I took while at the park.

Music: The Water Is Wide, by David Modica

http://magnatune.com/artists/albums/modica-water/