Monday, July 16, 2012

A day after my first road race, I awoke feeling surprisingly...ok. As with most Sunday's lately, I have dedicated my off day to hiking. My usual hiking partners also ran the race the night before so it took a little persuading to convince Steve and Pauline that hiking was the best way to spend our day. Eventually, they caved and we were off to Erwin, Tennessee; home of Rock Creek Recreation Area.
Rock Creek winding down the mountain
nice little 8ft drop.

Rock Creek is a really underrated area in my opinion, the main park is nice and has plenty of campsites, a playground, and even a nice swimming hole. What most people don't realize or take advantage of is the well maintained hiking trails, one of which leads to Rock Creek Falls. The trail to the falls leaves camping loop C and shortly thereafter enters the Unaka Mountain Wilderness. The trail although well maintained is also quite grueling, the two miles leading to the first falls is uphill the entire way and some stretches are steep, my thighs are still burning. There are several creek crossings and your feet will get wet, if they don't, turn around and leave because the falls are low and the hike isn't worth it. We arrived at a perfect time, after a heavy rainstorm. The water level was perfect too, my shoes were wet at each crossing and the cold water was a welcome feeling on my tired feet. As the trail gains elevation, so does the drops in the creek. Rock Creek is really photogenic lined with mountain laurel and many large boulders. Just before the first falls, the trail reaches it steepest incline but the reward is worth the effort with a beautiful sliding cascade of 40ft. Most peoples instincts would have them scrambling down the trail to it's base, but save your energy, just up the trail lies a 50ft multi-drop waterfall at the end of the trail. My first visit here I made the mistake of only stopping at the first falls thinking that was all that was there. There is also a nice 30ft waterfall between the two falls but getting to it is almost impossible, there is no trail leading to it's base, you can only reach it by climbing the 40ft cascade but after a rain the rocks provide zero traction.
2nd Falls on Rock Creek over 50ft high.
1st falls on Rock Creek, 40ft high
1st falls with creek as foreground.

If your in the need to quench your hiking thirst, then head down to Rock Creek. Take three bucks for the park entry fee, some water for the hike, and most definitely a camera. Until next time...happy trails!
nap time

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