Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lower Higgins Creek Falls

This is a lesser known waterfall in Unicoi County, TN - located on the northern edge of Rocky Fork State Park. Prior to the purchase of the land and the transition to state park status, this waterfall was largely unknown and seldom visited. Which, in a way, was a very good thing. Even today, now that signs point the way to the trail and the area has been "discovered", it's still relatively free of trash and graffiti. I hope it will stay that way! Because when you're sitting at the base of this 100 foot waterfall you get the feeling that you've stumbled onto something wild and pristine.

My reason for starting this blog was to highlight the beauty of our region and encourage people to get out and enjoy its scenic wonders -- but I have to admit that in some ways I kind of wish this place would remain unknown. It is so unspoiled. And yet I know that if people visit here, the vast majority will love this place and value it as much as I do. It really is a special place that deserves a visit -- and our protection.  Lower Higgins Creek actually contains six waterfalls - the one pictured above is the tallest - click here and here for photos of the others. Hiking Bill, who extensively travels this region and shares his journeys, recently visited Lower Higgins and wrote a detailed description of his journey here.

Another photo of this waterfall here. Photos of two of the waterfalls upstream here.

I recommend you visit in the spring or after a period of heavy rains. Lower Higgins Creek is a fairly small mountain stream, and in the late summer months, the waterfall you see above is often reduced to a trickle.

Directions to Lower Higgins Creek: Take I-26 to the Temple Hill exit #43 just south of Erwin and then turn right onto the old Asheville Highway (19/23), after 3/4 mile, turn right onto Lower Higgins Creek Road and drive 1.5 miles till you reach a dead end. There's a clearing where you can park. The trail is well marked and actually an old logging road. While there are No Trespassing and No Fishing signs all around (because the adjoining properties at the trailhead remain private), the trailhead itself and the expansive, mountainous terrain it leads to, is indeed part of the new state park. . The waterfall is about a mile in on your right. The trail has a moderate, but steady grade, with the exception of the last quarter mile, where it becomes steep. You'll be able to see the waterfall down a treacherous 100 foot slope to your right. The steep descent to the falls often slippery -- so take your time and be careful.


  1. Sooooo breathtaking!!

    I hate those people who spoil nature...I will never understand them.

  2. It is wonderful!!! This is where we grew up and went there often. Do watch for the snakes (rattlesnakes and cooperheads).

  3. Hiked Higgins creek yesterday.(Friday) Not a soul to be seen the whole hike. Trail starts level then relatively steep the entire distance (1-1.5 miles)to the falls on the right. Falls are very visible and trail to the falls is steep but not too bad. The next falls up the trail is a different story. I decided to continue and another 1/2 mile up I heard what seemed to be a waterfall and could barely make out through the vegetation that it was indeed. So this is where the bushwhacking started. Made it down to a hidden paradise that makes you feel that you are alone in the world. Higgins creek is a beautiful hike from start to finish..

  4. I will admit, I liked this hike until the very steep slope to the falls but once you got to the bottom it was worth it. Went a day after some rain so it was a little slick in some spots but all in all a great hike. Again, these falls are just beautiful.


Thanks for visiting and joining in the discussion on Appalachian Treks! Your comment will be sent to me to be approved. Sorry for this added step, but it is necessary to avoid spam. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!