With the help of my friend Jeff Miller, I finally made it to the elusive Dick's Creek Falls outside of Erwin, TN. 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.