You ever have those weekends that end up being blissfully free? No plans, no commitments, no brunch dates, photo shoots, family get-to-gethers - just free time all for you? Those are a great type of weekend.. In June, one of those rare sweet spots of wide open space happened upon me, so woke up at 5:00am, packed my day pack, grabbed my camera, and took a three hour drive down to Southern Tennessee to visit Fall Creek Falls State Park.
Some people don't like extended drives by themselves, but I love it because I can sing as loudly and off key as I want to without fear of judgement. I'm honestly pretty good, but you'll never know unless we hit that area of friendship where "I no longer care about what you think of me because I'm so comfortable with you".
Anyway, I ended up arriving at the park around eight in the morning to find empty trails and empty parking lots. I managed to time it perfectly to have a quiet hike to the first falls. If you've never been to Fall Creek Falls, you'll probably have seen photos of the two main falls that always look HUGE in pictures. But, to be quite frank, I have never EVER seen them flowing at full capacity. Usually it's a sad kind of trickle. I didn't even bother getting a photo of it because it was so sad. Also, the hike down to the bottom of the main falls is not enjoyable. If you happen to find a full-flowing falls, by all means hike down there, but if it's barely trickling, it's not worth it!
I hiked towards another section of the park and only met about two other hikers. Which was nice, but also meant that I was the first person to knock all the spider webs down for the day. One ended up in the mouthpiece of my water bottle. Not okay. But I guess that's a fair trade for some much needed solitude.
I crossed the suspension bridge by the nature center, and then climbed down to the bottom of upper cane creek falls. I love this section, but some annoying men were messing around down there so I just snapped a few photos and left.
Before I drove down, I had found some information about the main/lower cane creek falls but I'd never found them on previous visits to the park. I just knew from googling that the hike down was somewhat sketchy. I found a trusty park ranger and had him point me in the right direction and I hopped back on trail.
The "Cable Trail", as it is so aptly named, is literally a vertical rocky descent with a steel cable suspended above you to hang on to. We've already established that I was alone, but I also didn't have cell service, it had rained the night before, and I was wearing chacos that didn't have the most solid tread on slick surfaces. I sat at the top of this slippery and sharp slope for about five minutes trying to decide if this was a smart thing to do by myself. I settled on the fact that:
- It was not smart
- But I'd driven three hours to get here
- I'd probably be super frustrated with myself if I didn't do it
- At least if I die, it was in an interested way
So I climbed down and SURPRISE! I was fine. Though I definitely took it slow and slipped a few times.
As soon as I walked out of the trees and saw the falls, I knew I'd made the right decision. There wasn't a person it sight, and I had the entire place to myself............
For about twenty minutes. Then a bunch of families with TINY CHILDREN AND ELDERLY LADIES made there way to me. So then I felt a LOT less capable of my hiking ability. I have no idea how they all made it down that cable so quickly and without injury. Good on them though!
This falls is a really popular swimming hole for park visitors, but if you catch it early in the morning, you're likely to find a peaceful spot for reflection. Early bird gets the worm. And the view.
After a while, I got tired of people splashing around me, so I clambered back up the cable and drove to another section of the park to view one last water fall. Piney Falls looked like a really massive waterfall, but no matter where I looked online and in the park, I coudn't find a maintained trail that led to it. I suppose I could have followed the river upstream until I hit it, but by the time I was poking around, It was well past lunch time. I decided to settle for a good overlook and then head back to Kentucky.
An empty weekend ended up being filled with several beautiful falls, a couple of good hikes, and plenty of peaceful time for reflection. Take advantage of your free weekends y'all. Sometimes the ones without plans, have the most potential.