Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Lower Higgins Creek Falls

Along the northern edge of 10,000 acre Rocky Fork in Unicoi County, TN is a small, tumbling stream with numerous waterfalls. I've previously visited the beautiful 100' main falls (click here), but there are five more falls to see there -- if you're adventuresome. The main trail is in good shape --but there really aren't well established side-trails down to the individual falls. Hopefully with the recent purchase of Rocky Fork by The Conservation Fund and the U.S. Forest Service, improvements can be made to make this magnificent area more accessible to hikers. As a side note, I'd like to cast my vote to keep four wheelers out of this particular section of Rocky Fork in order to help preserve this remote and fragile and unspoiled place. It's a mile hike to the main falls, and then about a half mile or so further to the fourth waterfall pictured above. With the water now up, the two creek crossings may be a little tricky. The fourth falls is the second largest of the bunch -- it was hard to capture its size so I was glad when Jeremiah volunteered to climb part way up the 50' falls for some photos [Click photos to enlarge]. The other one, on the right, is the third waterfall - smaller, but still beautiful. For more pictures and helpful descriptions, click here and here.

Directions: 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 actually an old logging road which begins to the left over a rickety, old wooden bridge. While there are No Trespassing signs all around, there is not one at the trail head. The waterfall is about a mile in on your right. The trail has a moderate grade, with the exception of the last quarter mile, when it becomes steep. You'll be able to see the waterfall down a treacherous 100 foot slope to your right. It's best to visit in the spring or fall, as the steep descent to the falls is made even more difficult when the slope is completely overgrown. Continue on the main trail for another half mile or so to discover more waterfalls.


  1. Nice work and great shots! I'll cast my vote for no 4x4's in the Higgins Creek area too.

  2. Mark,
    I use a Nikon D60. Does Nikon sell a macro lens that you prefer? I see that you use a Tamron macro lens, and I'm assuming that is compatible with the Nikon? I'm thinking I might want to find a good macro lens.

  3. Hi Joy,
    Macro photography is a blast -- a whole new world will open up for you when you get a macro lens! With the D60, not every lens will autofocus, unless it has an internal motor, like the new 60mm macro ( . The nice thing about the 60mm would be that it could double as a portrait lens because of its focal length and speed (f/2.8). The drawback with the 60mm is that it will not give you a lot of distance between the front of the lens and your subject, which is a problem when photographing nervous critters like butterflies.

    I started out with the 60mm, but then moved to the Tamron 90mm (make sure with any third party lens that it says "Nikon mount" in the name). I like the increased distance and I'm still able to handhold it most of the time. The drawback for you would be that it won't autofocus on your D60, but that's not really a problem because I hardly ever use auto focus when shooting macros. I've been very pleased with my Tamron and would recommend it; another one to consider would be the Sigma 105; or if you really have lots of excess cash lying around, the Nikon 105 is the best of all of these options and it would autofocus. (

    Hope this helps!


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