Wednesday, March 5, 2014

It's been incredibly wet and snowy this winter and with temperatures finally starting to creep back up into the normal range, much of the snow has added to the flow of the already swollen creeks. There are several waterfalls in NE Tennessee that need this to be worth viewing. One in particular I have had on my list was Pete's Branch Falls in Horse Creek Park near Greeneville.

One of the bridges across Horse Creek.
Cascades on Horse Creek.

Pete's Branch Falls is a two mile hike along Horse Creek that crosses the creek several times, you can actually drive to the spur trail that leads to the waterfall if you have a high clearance vehicle but I decided to walk since I had never been there and was unsure of the roads. It was also the first chance I've had to test out the waders I bought a few years ago to help my dad around the barn. I knew that the creek crossings would get my feet wet if I didn't have them and I was right, at the first crossing the creek came just shy of the top of spilling over inside my boots. The old road follows the creek up through the park and it's absolutely gorgeous. There are numerous photo ops of all the cascades and I took my time since I was alone working on some new camera settings I have been studying online. Even though it was a few miles, my legs were on fire from the weight of the waders. They also weren't broke in and had dug into both of my heels rubbing blisters. Even with the discomfort, I was happy to be outside, and even happier not to have any time constraints.

More cascades.

Soon I arrived at the Pete's Branch Trail and the old road turned into a narrow path that started to climb up the mountain the final .6 miles. Even with the heavy rain and snow, Pete's Branch was still rather low, disappointing considering my planning in making the trip. To add to my aggravation, the trail was steeper than anyone had mentioned in their reviews of the hike. Soon I rounded over a small rise in the trail and could see the waterfall in the distance. It's always such a thrill when you see a waterfall for the first time, I forgot all about my heels and tired legs and was at the base setting up my tripod for the first picture. The falls drop off a large set of rock cliffs that span both sides of the creek. As I worked on shooting from different angles I decided to climb along the cliff wall on the right of the falls to get high enough to show the rugged terrain around me. I was peeking between the trees framing the falls with my camera and noticed another drop just upstream from the main waterfall. I hadn't read anything about it in the research I had done and couldn't see enough of the falls to tell if I had even seen a picture. I noticed the rock wall on the left side of the creek eventually met the ridge high on the opposite side of where I was so I scrambled back down and started climbing toward the top of the rock cliff to get a closer look of the falls. It wasn't easy and it was steep but as I started working my way back down to the base of the falls I could tell it had all been worth it. The "new" waterfall was a sliding cascade that eventually dropped near vertical over 20ft to it's base. I had never seen a picture of it so I slid down through the laurel and laid next to the creek trying to get an angle that best represented what I was seeing in person.

Pete's Branch Falls.

Rock Cliffs above the falls. The other waterfall is hidden in the laurel above.
Underneath the cliffs.

The trail I took upstream.

Previously undocumented watefall above Pete's Branch.
I couldn't wait to get home and share my find with my friends on the Waterfalls of Tennessee website. I took several pictures before packing up and carefully climbing back around the cliff at the main waterfall. On the hike back, I stopped at a few cascades and worked on some isolations before packing it in to the truck. I would recommend hiking to Pete's Branch if you had the chance, under the right conditions, it's one of the best in Northeast Tennessee. Until next time, happy trails.

One of last view of my find.

No comments:

Post a Comment