Saturday, May 11, 2013

First day of vacation and I awoke to overcast skies and light rain. I wasn't discouraged however, I didn't have to get up early, put on a tie, and stand on concrete for over 10 hours. The overcast skies are perfect days to photograph waterfalls, the harsh light from the sun cause chaos when trying to photograph water and the weeks worth of rain had me in hopes of seeing some impressive flows.
Laurel Run Falls
Downstream from the falls
Side view of Laurel Run Falls

Laurel Run Park is located just outside of Church Hill, Tennessee on the backside of Bays Mountain. There are two waterfalls along the trail and both are best viewed after a good rain. I have visited the falls in the summer months only to walk away disappointed with barely a trickle running over them, so today I had a lot better feeling about my chances. The trail head leaves the park near a large amphitheater and follows the creek the entire way. The downside of all the rain is that there isn't any gravel on the trail and footing was a nightmare with all the mud. The park also is really trashed with lots of litter in and around the creek on the hike up to the falls which is very disappointing. When I arrived at the only creek crossing I found it difficult to keep my feet dry which raised my spirits and raised my anticipation of seeing the falls. Laurel Run Falls is just upstream from the crossing and my first glimpse of the falls made my day. It was flowing strong and the forest canopy made for beautiful pictures. I was the only person hiking and spent several minutes beating around the creeks edge looking for the best angles.
Deep pool and nice cascade just above first falls.
Walking behind Kiner Creek Falls
Front of the falls
Downstream from Kiner Creek Falls.

Just upstream from Laurel Run Falls is a small tributary stream known as Kiner Creek. The stream although small, has the larger of the two falls in the park. Kiner Creek Falls is well hidden but can easily be heard off the trail to the right. The obvious trail will take you to the top of the falls which isn't a safe place to be, but I backtracked down the trail and found another spot that leads to the base of the falls. There is a sheer drop that has to be negotiated but there are roots and trees to hold on to, and I made it with just a little mud on my shorts. I really liked the base of the falls because it tumbles 35 feet off the cliff and you can easily walk behind the falls. The lighting was still perfect and I was really happy with my pictures. The humidity was high and I kept having to wipe the moisture off the lens of the camera.

Laurel Run Falls is an impressive sight if you catch it in the right conditions, and the bonus falls of Kiner Creek is a real gem that shouldn't be as underrated as it seems to be. The next time you find yourself with a cloudy day and a few extra hours I highly recommend the hike up to see them both. Until next time, happy trails.

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