A paradise of more than 20,000 acres sprawled across the eastern top of the rugged Cumberland Plateau, Fall Creek Falls State Park is one of the most scenic and spectacular outdoor recreation areas in America. Laced with cascades, gorges, waterfalls, streams, and lush stands of virgin hardwood timber, the park beckons those who enjoy nature at her finest. While Fall Creek Falls, at 256 feet, is the highest waterfall in the eastern United States, other waterfalls in the park are Piney and Cane Creek Falls and Cane Creek Cascades. The oak and hickory forest that covers most of the park gives way to tulip poplar and hemlock forest in the gorges. The plants and animals of the moist, protected gorges are not unlike the species found in southern Canada. Mountain laurel and rhododendron are abundant throughout the park, as are other plants and animals. With its many amenities and panoramic natural setting, it is little wonder that Southern Living magazine readers voted Fall Creek Falls the best state park in the Southeastern United States. The park is located in Bledsoe and Van Buren counties, 11 miles east of Spencer and 18 miles west of Pikeville. It may be entered from Highway 111 or Highway 30.
Nate M. on Lost Creek Falls Trail
loved it we when of the beaten path
If you are considering hiking this trail, please take this review into consideration. It is going to be lengthy, but it is information you need to read before hiking this trail. I recently backpacked this trail with my parents last month (October 2016). After our experience on the trail, I felt passionate about giving a recent, accurate, unbiased review of this trail. Understand that I am an experienced hiker---my idea of hiking is 20 mile day hikes at high altitudes in the rocky mountains.
Prior to our hike, we had to stop at the nature center to get overnight permits. Campsite #2 was full, so we were told we had to stay at Campsite #1 (about 2.5 miles in on the supposedly 13 mile trail). We were given a map of the trail. I am 26 years old and have great vision, and could hardly tell what was on the map. It was hand drawn, no mileage markings, nothing truly helpful on the map other than the general outline of the trail.
To get to the trailhead, we drove a couple of miles down a road leading away from the nature station. The grassy parking area for the trailhead was behind a ranger housing area. We started on the trail. It was grown up in some areas, but not too bad. The trail was easy and flat and winded through the woods. Soon, we crossed the road that we were driving on earlier. The trail continued through the woods. Very flat, easy hike. There was a small foot bridge that crossed over a dried up creek bed. The foot bridge was a nice little sight considering there hadn't been much scenery other than trees, trees, and more trees.
After about 2.5 miles, we came to a sign that said "campsite #1". At the sign, the trail forked, and it was not clear which way the actual campsite was. We continued on up what was the main trail about a tenth of a mile and came up on some other campers. We assumed this was the campsite and we found a secluded spot to camp. The sights were not labeled or anything. You could just tell where people had camped before. The campsite was a nice, flat, woodsy area for camping. There was no water available at this campsite, but there was an outhouse.
The next day, we got up early and continued on. We knew that it was only about 2.5 miles to campsite #2, and figured we would be reaching it pretty soon. So far, there had been no signs on the trail informing you of mileage, so we were using the campsite as a gauge.
Shortly after leaving our campsite, the trail started to descend into the gorge. The descent was very steep. I had to be very careful not to slip. I am 26 years old and in shape, and I almost lost my footing several times. It seemed like it took forever to reach the bottom of the gorge because we were being so careful with our footing. When we reached the bottom it was rocky, and the trail was VERY poorly marked. There was a pretty cool suspension bridge that went over a large, dry creek bed. We continued on. I can recall about 5 or 6 times where I, along with my parents, had to literally spend several minutes looking all around, searching for a trail marker. We were also baffled because it seemed like we had gone AT LEAST 2.5 miles, and were wondering where campsite #2 was. We figured it was pretty close and continued on.
We began our ascent out of the gorge. Just like the descent, the ascent was VERY steep. Again, it was very poorly marked. There was a time where it looked like trail ended. There were NO markers anywhere. There was another couple of hikers behind us and we all literally had to walk around for 5 minutes trying to figure out where the trail was. I could have easily gone in the wrong direction, and almost did. Once we found our way, we continued hiking up very steep, slick inclines.
After we finally made it to the top, the trail flattened out again and winded through the woods, similar to the beginning. We kept our eyes out for campsite #2, but still hadn't come across it. We left campsite #1 at around 7:30 that morning, and it was around 12:00. Regardless of how steep the trail was, there is no way that it took us that long to hike 2.5 miles. We were definitely starting to feel slightly concerned, knowing that there was still about 8 or 9 miles to go considering we had not even reached campsite #2 yet.
So, we walked, we walked, and kept on winding through the woods. Where is campsite #2??? We had to have walked for another HOUR AND A HALF before we got to campsite #2, and by this time we were walking quite briskly knowing that we didn't want to get stuck on the trail at night. It was about 2:00 by the time we reached campsite #2. Now, how in the world had we only covered 2.5 miles since 7:30 in the morning? THIS IS NO EXAGGERATION.
There was a water spicket at campsite #2. There was no sign about the water, so we assumed it was clean. It was. Campsite #2 did not look as nice, but it is a flat area good for camping. The trail continued on through the woods on what I think was a dirt bike trail. Nothing scenic. Just more woods. I wa
This trail is poorly marked, has a dangerous spot where you have to get on to the road and traffic is flying by and could easily be a spot for injury. There are a few overlooks, some are tricky to maneuver to get to the overlook, I would say it is moderate difficult at that part of the trail. Very shady and mostly flat walking. Several trails converge on this trail and markings are poor at best. It is a popular trail and will see lots of other folks on this trail.
Falls weren't super impressive in themselves but the area was still stunning! The cave looks like a blast as well but bring a flashlight and some sturdy boots!! Definitely will be returning after a good rain and/or with some boots and a flashlight!