Friday, May 31, 2013

Gentry Falls

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

--Robert Frost (1874–1963) American poet--

Lower Gentry Falls
This beautiful, two-tiered waterfall is found in a remote area of the northeast tip of Tennessee.  I have known of this waterfall for years, but didn't get around to visiting it until yesterday. Part of my reluctance in visiting was the discussion on other websites saying how difficult and challenging this hike is. To be sure, it's no walk in the park. It's 2.5 miles with 15 creek crossings (each way), swarms of bugs, and stinging nettles lining the trail. But the good news is that it's fairly level -- in fact, you hardly notice the incline on the way to the falls. And if you're prepared for the bugs and the creek -- it's really not bad at all. In fact, it becomes a beautiful adventure.  :)

Peter crossing Gentry Creek
Now I say 15 creek crossings, but to be honest, at some point I stopped counting. Other websites say 15, so I'll go with that.  There's evidence here and there that bridges once existed at some of the crossings, but they're long gone.  The trail is well maintained and you can see ample evidence of the efforts made to make the creek crossings easier by placing large rocks and boulders as stepping stones.  But for me carting a heavy backpack, a tripod and holding the leash of an overly anxious and excited dog, it was easier just to walk straight through the creek.  The cool water soothing the sting from the nettles. 

Upper Gentry Falls
The waterfall is magnificent. The two-tiers make it unique, and gives visitors lots to explore.  A steep trail to the left leads up to the upper falls, where there is a surprising amount of room between the falls.  Everything, of course, is very slippery. So use common sense and stay far away from the edge of the falls. Read my Warnings, Safety Tip and Disclaimers. The last thing I want is for someone to get hurt visiting the beautiful places I describe here!

The view downstream of Gentry Falls
I found the upper falls to be more photogenic than the lower waterfall, even though the lower one is a bit taller than the upper falls.  I'd say the upper one is 25 feet tall and the lower one 35 feet high.  A nice view of both falls is found on top of a large boulder that you pass on your initial descent to the falls.

Another interesting discovery was of old railroad ties lying in the woods on the approach to the waterfall.  Hard to believe that a railroad once extended into this remote area! One website, which describes a little of the history of the area, says Gentry Falls was named for Joseph Gentry who owned 800 acres and on which his son established an iron works around 1800. The railroad obviously came later and was likely used for timber.

One of the many creek crossings
Directions: Click here for map. From Mountain City, TN, take Rt. 91 north toward Damascus, VA for 7 miles. At Laurel Bloomery, TN, turn right onto Gentry Creek Road (across from the A to Z Market).  Drive 0.7 miles, then turn right to stay on Gentry Creek Road. Drive 2.4 miles to a cul-de-sac at the end of the road. The last 1.3 miles is gravel ... and rough and narrow ... with lots of deep potholes.  I highly recommend a high clearance vehicle for this trek.  Soon after it turns to gravel, the road forks, keep right.  (If you go left you immediately reach another cul-de-sac and trail head, but that one will take you to Rogers Ridge Horse Trail). Once at the end of the Gentry Creek Road, you'll see a trail marker for Gentry Falls (Trail #51). Follow the blue blazed trail for 2 1/2 miles to the double falls.  It took about an hour and 15 minutes to get there and exactly an hour on our way back.

4 comments:

  1. Do you know if there is anywhere to tent camp on or near this trail?

    ReplyDelete
  2. No, I'm sorry...I don't know of any campsites at Gentry. I don't recall seeing any...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Mark, your fantastic website has been a great resource for me over the past year or so since I discovered it. Thanks for all your hard work! I've posted a link to your site from my own website, I hope it brings you more traffic in time. (http://twistedridgephotography.com)

    I'm going to give this fall a go soon, but I have to ask, is that an evil ghost dog in your pic of the lower fall? If so, I hope it's gone when I visit!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Actually about halfway in there are at least 6 camp sites on the left side of the trail. Most have established fire rings.

    ReplyDelete

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 needed to avoid spam. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!