Sunday, August 1, 2010

be gentle

Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.
--Wilfred Peterson (1900-1995) American author

Along Clark's Creek in Unicoi County, TN. Not a lot of water out on Clark's Creek right now, so the waterfalls are definitely looking puny, but still there are many trails with beautiful scenes like this.

Even if you're not much of a hiker, Clark's Creek is a beautiful drive, with its deep woods and views of the gentle creek. It's one of the few forest service roads in the area that I can confidently say a high clearance vehicle isn't necessary. It has some potholes here and there, but overall it's a level and well-maintained gravel road. It's about four miles from the main highway to where it ends in a cul-de-sac. If you go drive slow and keep an eye out for riders on horseback. Two waterfalls are in close proximity to one another, Sill Branch Falls and Pine Ridge Falls. Both are short, fairly easy hikes (1/2 mile each). For a longer, more difficult hike, check out Buckeye Falls.

Directions: Take I-26 to the Erwin/Jonesborough exit #37. At the end of the ramp, turn right and take State Route 81/107 west for 6.5 miles, stay on Rt. 107 by turning left and continue for 5 more miles. Turn left on Clark's Creek Road and drive 1.4 miles - at this point the road will turn to gravel and you'll enter Clark's Creek proper. The mileage below is given from this point of entry into Clark's Creek (where the road turns to gravel). Some of the better known trails located in this area include...
0.1 (approx) miles Iron Furnace trail head (on the left immediately after first bridge)
1.4 (approx) miles Hell Hollow Falls trail head (on the right)
1.7 miles Sill Branch Falls trail head (on the left)
1.9 miles Pine Ridge Falls trail head (on the left)
2.7 miles Buckeye Falls trail head (located at the terminus of Clark's Creek Road)

Kenneth Murray's book, Highland Trails, contains a detailed map of the area and descriptions of the hikes. Google books has an excerpt. Buy it from Amazon here.

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