I haven’t visited Gentry Creek Falls in NE Tennessee until 2017. For some strange reason, I had it in my mind that the double Gentry Creek Falls were too far away for a day trip….. Also from what I was reading, they were extremely difficult to get to. After finally doing some more in depth research on this one, I discovered I was way off. It is in Tennessee….but just barely. This waterfall was about as close to me as some other NE Tennessee Waterfalls I have previously visited, such as Laurel Creek Falls, The Blue Hole, Jones Falls, and Compression Falls. The closest town Gentry Creek Falls is associated with is Laurel Bloomery, TN. This is a tiny town near the place where the Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina state lines all meet. Its very close to Damascus, Va and Mountain City, Tn, and maybe 30 minutes from Boone, NC. This one is actually pretty close for me. I should have visited this one long ago.Read more
It’s hard to believe that it has been 3 years since I made my first trip to Jones Falls in extreme eastern Tennessee. I first visited here in February of 2012 after reading some interesting blogs about other waterfall opportunities that existed right there starting at Elk Falls, in Elk Park, NC. Read more
If you ever find yourself traveling through east central Tennessee along I-40 and are itching to see just one awesome Tennessee waterfall, I have a perfect one for your consideration. Ozone Falls, is a very picturesque 110 foot waterfall with wide amphitheater like cliffs surrounding it on both sides. The water drops into a beautiful green pool. I read on the official website, that scenes from the “The Jungle Book” were filmed here. Even better, it is only 4 miles from I-40……with minimal hiking! It’s not officially a “roadside” waterfall, but it is the next best thing! Read more
Here is some good advice. If a rare photo opportunity becomes available, take it. In fact, jump all over it. This past week, most of the eastern US suffered through the frigid, bone chilling effects of what has become known as the 2014 Polar Vortex. This rare event occurs when part of the extreme cold air circulating around the North Pole breaks off and heads south and east via strong jet stream winds. The end result is some of the coldest air in at least 20 years. Just 5 days ago in the small town of Elk Park, NC, the location of Elk River Falls, the temperature dipped to -14 degrees. The entire area was sitting between -10 and -14, just amazingly cold temperatures for this far south. Pictures of frozen waterfalls began to appear all over the social media scene. Unfortunately for me, work would not allow me to break away for a short while.
Sometimes it seems, the places we discover that we will treasure most, are the the ones we had no intentions of seeing in the first place. On a cloudy, cool, clammy day in mid to late October, my fiancé and I were simply heading to Abingdon, Va for the day. The GPS chose a route from NC, that took us through Boone, then into Tennessee to Mountain City, then to Into Virginia through a small but very cool town named Damascus. Read more
I have recently completed my 2nd day trip to Elk Park, N.C. and Elk Mills, Tn. to hike and view the two magnificent waterfalls on the Elk River. The two waterfalls are only 4 miles apart by river, but there is no trail that connects these that I have been made aware of. Read more
This past Saturday, I took time to revisit the river where my love for waterfalls began. This meant a trip to the North Carolina-Tennessee state line area, just south and west of Boone, NC. This was a visit to the Elk River. About 6 or 7 years ago, while visiting family in Newland, NC for Christmas, 2 of my younger cousins had a wonderful idea. It just happened to be a warm spell in Newland and the temperature on Christmas day was 50 degrees, a heat wave for Newland. I was asked if I wanted to ride to see a waterfall….my answer was…why not?? Read more
It is now the middle of October, and I am in the mountains to see some color. Leaving the triad on US 421, it is painfully obvious that many others have this same idea. Once we got to Boone, it seemed everyone kind of dispersed and went their own way. I wanted to visit the Roan Mountain area, so I chose a route that used US 421 to Boone and then US 321 to cross into Tennessee and then to Hampton. Between Boone and Hampton, are 3 fine waterfalls that I know of: Trash Can Falls on the NC side, Compression Falls off of Poga Rd, and finally Laurel Falls in the Hampton area. The first stop is Trash Can Falls. This one is very easy to miss, as there are no signs. As US 321 runs north with the Watauga river to it’s right, there is a large pull off to the right. At the far north end of the pull-out is a small path that begins on the other side of the highway. This leads you maybe 1/10 of a mile just up a small creek and gorge to the waterfall and pool known as Trash Can Falls. Trashy name, nice waterfall, and a local favorite swimming hole in the summer.
After this short pit stop, the road twists and turns into Tennessee. Not far into the state, you will cross the Elk River and Poga Rd. I did not visit it on this day, but a few miles up Poga, is a barn that you park at to see Compression Falls. This is one of my favorites, but a beast to get to, even though it is only 0.7 miles. The descent down the river bank and gorge is unmatched as far as difficulty. More people get injured at this one than any others in the area. Here is a shot from a previous trip.
Anyway, the next thing you will notice is the beautiful Watauga Lake, fed by the Elk and Watauga Rivers. With the colors at their peaks, it was a pretty drive along the lake. Once past the Lake, the Hampton area is soon up. As you pull into Hampton, there is a pull off and parking area for Laurel Falls. Drive right on pas it. There is a shorter, flatter, alternate way. About 1/4 past this, is Dennis Cove Rd, a narrow, newly paved road. Take this left, it will twist and climb about 4 miles to the Appalachian Trail Crossing. This is the parking area. The trailhead for the waterfall starts here. Just follow the white rectangular blazed AT about 1.3 miles, right to the waterfall. The first mile or so is about as flat as a mountain trail can be. I later learned that this used to be a railroad track, kind of explains the flatness. After crossing a neat footbridge, the trail winds a short ways through some rock passages and then the sign….
From here, the AT makes a long descent down into the gorge. The trail is largely rock steps, but big ones. It is a pain to get down and some good huffing and puffing back out. Once down there, you are at one of Eastern Tennesse’s better waterfalls, Laurel Falls, 55 feet high.
If you look close enough, you can see 3 people who were unwisely playing around on the top. This is how people fall and get seriously injured or worse, die. The water was fairly low on this day and the whole gorge was in shade. Here is a shot from my last trip here when the water was significantly higher..
It was beautiful on both days, I would say go early for better lighting and preferably after recent rain. After the tough climb out, it was a nice flat walk back and off to Roan Mountain we went, only to learn that Roan High Bluff closed on October 1, and we did not have the time to make the long hike. That is how it goes sometimes, so we headed back into NC and caught a few shots of Grandfather Mountain before heading home.
The Blue Hole…the name itself is intriguing enough to catch my interest. When I learned that it was the name of a waterfall in NE Tennessee, I had put it on my list of waterfalls to seek out this year. This past weekend, I just happened to find myself staying in a cabin in NE Tennessee, about 30 minutes from the Blue Hole, so this became our destination for a Saturday afternoon hike. The location is in the Stony Creek area, a smaller town just outside of Elizabethton, TN. After a pretty ride up State Highway 91 and a short drive up Panhandle Rd, we were there. It turns out that it wasn’t much of a hike, maybe a 1/2 round trip total at most.
The Blue Hole is not a single waterfall, but actually a series of 4 waterfalls. All 4 of them are small, but certainly not lacking character. Some recent rains also had the water levels at a decent level. It was a good day to be here. The hike is just a short scramble down a fairly steep hill. There are some interesting steps built for assistance here, they are quite steep though. Once down the hill, falls 2, 3, and 4 are all very close to one another. I am guessing that it is falls #3 that gives the blue hole its name as it creates a fairly large pool with a greenish/blue…color. It is gorgeous little waterfall and yet another reminder that a waterfall does not have to be large to be spectacular. Just upstream from #3 is #2, which some might consider 1 waterfall, but they have separate pools and drops with enough stream separating them for me.
Blue Hole #2 is very nice as well. It can only be heard from the trail as you must enter a small opening to view the large hole cut out by the stream over the years . Being inside of this and outside on Blue Hole #3 gives these two waterfalls very different feels and both are very photogenic. Notice the cup on the left side. I am sorry to report that trash is a problem at this location. It appears the locals like to come to this area, drink and throw their garbage everywhere. It is a shame as this is a special area. I have some choice words for people like this that I will use my better judgement and leave off of the blog.
Blue Hole #1 gets things here started off nicely!
Interesting Stairs to Falls