At the trailhead, there is a sign that states: Laurel Falls
4 miles RT, Virgin Falls 8 miles RT. We headed out thinking it was an 8 mile
hike, but when we got back to the van, the trip log said 10.22 miles. Still,
we headed out believing we were walking 8 miles and planned to get back to the
van by 5 in order to be home at a decent time.
The first mile and a half of trail is easy walking, even a bit boring at least until the trail meets up with a real creek. There are 2 minor water crossings, below we just walked on rocks placed in the creek and a second one that required walking across a downed log. There was a slug on the only hand-hold crossing that one, so I did not take a picture! There had very recently been a prescribed burn along the first mile, the entire left half of the forest was charred and smelled strongly of smoke. I did not take any pictures through that area.
Zephyr decided no crossing of muddy little
creeks for her!
I love how Jake and Chan were just standing there, at a loss as to how to get a 10 pound dog over the creek.
She had dug in! Funny little doggie!
I LOVE Tennessee for so many reasons, not
the least of which are the laurel hells that crop up along creeks.
Big Branch Falls
I have one other picture of these falls and it's blurry, too.
At the 2-mile mark, there is a creek crossing
via a cable hand-line.
I loved this the first time we were here, the water was much higher and it felt dangerous.
The kids still enjoyed it, despite the tameness of the creek.
On our way out, we stopped just below here and got in the water for a while to cool off, but going in, we all had hats and jackets!
And, who's child is that? Mine. Stopping in the middle of MY photo to take a photo of her own!
Matt took this one of me!
The stretch between the cable crossing and
Laurel Falls is the prettiest and the hardest on the whole trail.
See the whale!? We cracked up, it's a rock
with a stick that just happened to fall at the right spot.
Trail magic! Nature is astoundingly funny.
This was a new trillium for me, I have not
seen one with such a small bloom.
Laurel Falls Cave