Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lower Dick Creek Falls

With the help of my friend Jeff Miller, I finally made it to the elusive Dick's Creek Falls outside of Erwin, TN (also referred to as Dick Creek Falls). This beautiful 22 foot waterfall is tucked away in a remote area that has logging roads and old trails every which way. Needless to say, it's hard to give directions. One of the reasons I never tried this one before is because I heard from experienced hikers what a difficult waterfall this one is to find. But for the adventuresome among us, this waterfall is well worth the effort -- especially in times of high water like we're experiencing now.

The best way to get to the falls is through Rock Creek Park. Once there, drive through the picnic area and park near the bath house just before you enter the campground. From here, walk towards the campground and you'll immediately see the trail head for the hiking/biking trail that follows Rock Creek. After a short ten minute walk, you'll reach a footbridge -- cross it and you will soon come to a fork with a sign pointing to Rattlesnake Ridge to the left, take this trail. You will follow it approximately 3/4 of a mile (there are a few small creek crossings and some steep parts) at which point you'll reach Dick's Creek Gap.

As you enter Dick's Creek Gap, you'll see that this clearing contains the intersection of two trails and two roads. One of the trails you just came from -- the other trail (on your right) leads to Rattlesnake Ridge and eventually makes its way to Unaka Mountain Overlook (a.k.a. Pleasant Garden). Straight ahead from where you emerged into the clearing you'll see two roads. I'm not exactly sure where the road to the left leads (it's marked 'Dark Hollow'), but the road to the right is the one you want to take to get to Dick's Creek Falls. Follow that road for about 3/4 of a mile where you'll cross over Dick's Creek. A little ways further (30 yards) you'll turn right on an unmarked logging road. From here it is 1/3 of a mile (approximately 600 paces) to an unmarked opening on your right (by my count, it's the second such 'opening' on the right). Now when I say opening, I mean there might be room for one car to pull half way in. If you listen closely, you'll hear the falls, and if you venture in a few steps, you should see the beginnings of a faint trail which will lead to the falls (approx. 30 yards). The waterfall is nestled (practically hidden) in a very cool little grotto. You can view the falls from above, or can carefully climb down to the base of the falls for a better view. It's a gorgeous little waterfall that's worth the trip -- Good luck with this one!

For more photos and information, click here, here, here and here.

I call this "Lower" Dick's Creek Falls because I've been told the real Dick's Creek Falls is on up the creek (description below in the comments, photo here). RATtreks has thorough descriptions of the hike to the upper falls here from Rock Creek Park side in Erwin, and here from Limestone Cove side outside of Unicoi.

Directions to Rock Creek Park: From I-26 take the Erwin Main Street Exit (#36), at the end of the ramp turn east towards town and you will immediately arrive at a stop light. Turn right onto Rt. 107 and drive 1/2 mile, turn left at stop light onto Rock Creek Road (Rt. 395) -- continue on for 3.1 miles, turn left at entrance to Rock Creek Park.

For my discussion of the Highway 107/Unicoi approach to the falls, click here.


  1. Thanks for an EXCELLENT set of directions to this beautiful grotto/waterfall. Found it with no problem at all, and was absolutely captivated by the beauty of this location!

    Brenda Wiley

  2. As pretty as this waterfall was, if you actually proceed up the river another 3/4 of a mile you will see the real Dicks Creek Falls. I have used the website several times and really enjoy it but this particular set of directions doesnt arrive at the actual Dicks Creek Falls. My email is

  3. Great directions and beautiful falls! Thank you so much for posting your adventures. I recently moved here from Colorado and your site has made my time here quite enjoyable. Thanks! :o)

  4. Mark – I just wanted to thank you very much for your description of Dick Creek Falls . I helped lead a hike to the falls today. We followed your trail details and found the falls very easily. The Rock Creek Park Ranger said that they had recently made a failed attempt to find the falls. We found them running strong and the grotto was a beautiful spot in which several members of our group chose to endure the humidity and have lunch while taking photos.

    A few comments on our observations: The two roads you describe going out of Dick Creek Gap were easy to spot, and your info made it easy to take the right one. However, a hundred yards or so down the road, there was another “good” (relative term) road that turned off sharply to the right; we also noted that the road proceeded downhill, with perhaps not as much as much elevation change as we had coming up from Rock Creek Park, but enough to get our attention when we came back (Whew!). We were tempted to take the road to the right, but wisely stayed with the main road. The “unmarked opening” on the right of the trail which you described was very easy to find, but we were tempted by a similar one a few hundred yards sooner than the correct one. The correct one (which you identified) is within sight of a grassy clearing 1 or 2 hundred yards up the road. After spending time at the falls, I noticed a well-used (maintained?) trail which turned off to the right after coming up from the falls. This trail exits through a well-used camping area very close to the grassy clearing I noted earlier. However, after exiting out onto the road, it wasn’t very obvious that there was a good trail leading to the falls. Your directions, leading through a faint trail, are probably still the best ones.

    Again, thank you for directions to a beautiful, not over-visited waterfall!


  5. Mark - We finally made it to upper Dick Creek Falls. It is located at 36 deg 08.686N, 082 deg 19.265W, 3060 ft elevation. Directions: After getting back on the road from the lower falls, proceed upstream to another significant creek crossing. Just across the creek is a small clearing with a rock fire ring. Go across the clearing and take a faint trail to the left. The trail is not always obvious, but proceeds through woods with almost no undergrowth until it intersects with an old logging road. Follow this until you see and hear the upper falls. They are ~30-ft high and were very pretty (lots of water) on 3/27/10. I didn't measure the distance from the lower falls, but the estimate someone posted on your site of 3/4 mile appears to be correct.

  6. My husband, daughter and I hiked to the lower falls on August 20, 2011 and they were beautiful! Your directions were exact! We tried to find the upper falls but failed at doing so. Does anyone have specific directions to the upper falls?

  7. Found the lower falls easily this past weekend, using your good directions. Not a soul on the path coming or going - very isolated. The hike is long, but worth it. An unexpected treat is that the waterfall has a deep pool, so you can swim. I did briefly, but nearly froze to death! Need to come back at the end of summer :-) Thanks again for the blog!

    Mark and family


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