Grassy Ridge

Sunrise from Jane Bald

Grassy Ridge is a prominent peak in the Roan Highlands sitting at 6180 feet in elevation.  This expansive Southern Appalachian Bald offers 360 degree, unobstructed views, which are undoubtedly some of the best in the eastern U.S.  This is also the highpoint of Avery County, NC.

I left the house very early in the morning and arrived at Carver’s Gap around 5:00 a.m.  I hiked by headlamp for the first mile, crossing the summits of Round Bald and Jane Bald, where I stopped to set up my photography equipment.  This happens to be my favorite spot for capturing sunrises in the east, and this morning’s sunrise did not disappoint me… Read more »

Categories: Apalachian Trail, Day-hike, NC County Highpoint, Rock Formations, Summits, Vistas, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Grayson Highlands State Park – Rhododendron Trail

Dad Taking Photos on the Appalachian Trail Near Massie Gap

First, I want to apologize for the lack of posts lately.  I went on a 4-day backpacking trip about a month ago and injured my knee, so I haven’t been out much since that trip.  I hope it is healing up so I can get back out on some longer hikes very soon.

I’ve made it a little tradition to go hiking with my dad on Father’s Day for the past few years, and this year we decided to drive up to the Grayson Highlands State Park in southwest Virgina and hike up to the A.T. from Massie Gap.  Dad had never seen the feral ponies in this area, so I figured Massie Gap would be the best chance of that. Read more »

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Bailey Falls

Bailey Falls

This is a continuation to the Margarette Falls hike posted a few days ago…

The Margarette Falls hike is very easy and great for families and beginners, however if you want to be more adventurous you can continue on upstream from Margarette to the very unique, grotto-like waterfall known as Bailey Falls.  This is NOT an easy hike.

You must first climb the VERY steep embankment to the right of Margarette Falls.  The trail here is very faint.  Once you reach the top you must work your way through the underbrush back toward the stream.  Then, just follow the stream as best you can for a couple tenths of a mile… climbing over numerous boulders, fording in certain places, and sometimes just walking up the middle of the stream.   Plan on getting wet. Read more »

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Margarette Falls

60' Margarette Falls

One of the most picturesque waterfalls in our region has to be Margarette Falls located in Greene County, Tennessee.  Not only is this 60′ waterfall truly magnificent, but the hike to get to it is very beautiful as well.  Located on west fork of Dry Creek in a very rocky gorge, there are numerous waterfalls on the way up (3 or 4 in the 10′ range), many cascades, and high cliffs towering above the trail.  And if you go at the right time of year, wildflowers are in abundance.  I saw numerous species of Trillium, wild Iris, wild Geranium, Larkspur, Rue Anemone, and Bleeding Hearts… only to name a few. Read more »

Categories: Day-hike, Waterfalls, Wildflowers | Tags: | 7 Comments

Rock Creek Falls

Upper Rock Creek Falls

One of my favorite places to visit is Rock Creek Park just outside of Erwin, TN.  This beautiful place with towering Hemlocks  was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s.  It’s a great place for many family activities… camping (with nice tent pads and restrooms), afternoon cookouts with  playgrounds, biking, swimming (in a concrete spring-fed pond also built by the CCC), or for different levels of hiking.  You can take a short, easy stroll around the park on the nicely maintained trails, or hike some of the more strenuous trails.  One very difficult trail named Rattlesnake Ridge will take you almost to the top of Unaka Mountain at the “Pleasant Garden” overlook, while some the other trails lead to beautiful waterfalls. Read more »

Categories: Day-hike, Waterfalls | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Coon Den Falls

Coon Den Falls

If you happen to be hiking to the popular Laurel Falls in the Dennis Cove area, be sure to check out the short trek to Coon Den Falls as well.  I’ve seen this waterfall usually listed at 50 feet high, but I think it’s more like 80 feet as much of the upper falls are not visible due to underbrush.  There is also another smaller waterfall on the hike up, but it’s not very accessible to photograph.

I had not visited Coon Den Falls in a couple of years, but noticed on my recent trip that many improvements have been made to the trail.  The climb up is still quite steep, but the trail is clear and now has nice steps in some areas where ropes used to be.  Read more »

Categories: Day-hike, Waterfalls | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Round Bald Summit

Appalachian Trail on Round Bald

If you’re looking for a short walk to amazing vistas, check out the summit of Round Bald in the Roan Highlands.  This is a 5826′ elevation mountain with 360 degree-panoramic views.   The hike is entirely on the Appalachian Trail and is only a mile trek (round trip).  See my Hike Planner below for all the information and directions.

This is a also great place for landscape photography.  I visit this area often to capture wonderful mountain views, fall colors, sunrises and sunsets…  and in early June, masses of Catawba Rhododendron are in bloom in the entire Roan Mountain area.  It is simply a wonderful place to visit and photograph. Read more »

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Grayson Highlands Backpacking: A.T. – Pine Mtn Loop

Feral Pony in the Grayson Highlands

I made my first backpacking trip of the year on a loop starting in the Grayson Highlands State Park (at the Backpackers Overnight Parking area).  I’ve done this exact trip a couple of times before, and as always I’ve found it to be a great hike if you’re looking for a short, relaxing loop for a one or two night trip.  See the exact route that I took in the Hike Planner below.

I got a very late start on Friday evening and only hiked a couple of miles before dark… heading north on the A.T., and camping at Little Wilson Creek.  This is a beautiful grove next the stream that can accommodate a lot of tent sites.  I must have slept well because I woke up the next morning surrounded by a troop of Boy Scouts.  I never heard them come in and set up.  They told me that they arrived around midnight. Read more »

Categories: Apalachian Trail, Backpacking, Vistas | Tags: , , , , | 44 Comments

Birchfield Camp Lake

Birchfield Camp Lake

Sitting at high elevations, in between the peaks of Frozen Knob and Wilson Knob in the Rocky Fork Tract, is a relatively unheard of, man-made feature known as Birchfield Camp Lake.  I have been told that this ~10 acre lake was built to assist in combating potential forest fires by the previous owners of the property (a logging company)… before the land became National Forest.  After quite a bit of exploring in Rocky Fork, I had still not been to this unique location… so I set out to find it…

I felt I had numerous options for routes.  The easiest access, but most likely the longest, would have been via the forest roads at the main entrance gate to Rocky Fork.  Instead I opted for what I thought would be the shortest route, but most adventurous… beginning my hike at Lower Higgins Creek, passing by the awesome Higgins Creek Falls, and then making a steep climb up an old logging road following Birchfield Camp Branch.  This turned out to be a good choice. Read more »

Categories: Day-hike, Lakes, Waterfalls | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

The Blue Hole

Blue Hole #2

Yeah… all this heavy rain has made me waterfall crazy lately!

I only had a couple hours of daylight left after work, so I decided to drive to the Blue Hole in Stoney Creek to check out some of the most beautiful falls in the area.  This place is always a nice spot to visit, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to hike.  It’s a series of four very scenic waterfalls located on the southern base of Holston Mountain just off of Highway 91, and you can basically drive right up to it.  I particularly enjoy the Blue Hole because the waterfalls are so unique and photogenic.  I would think this series of falls are some of the most photographed in the region. Read more »

Categories: Day-hike, Waterfalls | Tags: | 1 Comment