My best friend and Dad went with me on this trail a couple of Sundays ago. The weather was great; a little cool in the morning, with only a couple of clouds to bar the sun from shining through the leaves that were beginning to turn along the trail. We started at about 10:00 am. Falls Creek Falls Trail is a really rewarding, challenge of a trail! The Jones Gap State Park trailhead is accessible at the Palmetto Bible Camp. It was a bit interesting following the signs for the Bible Camp to get there, as you're headed in an odd direction away from the main access of the State Park.
That being said, once you find the trailhead by following the road that leads directly through the Bible Camp area, you are met with considerable warning about the strenuous nature of this trail. It's an area notorious for rain washouts, and the trail sometimes involves a fair amount of scrambling and hand holds. Bring a ton of water, as always, and wear good shoes with ankle support. This was a trail that made me wish I had all ready picked up walking sticks!
We didn't see any one out on this trail until the very end; it's a quiet, relaxing day, but the isolation of this trail makes it that much more important to have a first aid kit and to be prepared for an emergency. It can be very lonely up there.
You dive straight in to the elevation gain; this purple blazed trail is not a joke! Any one familiar with the Dismal Trail in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area will forgive my newfound habit of grumbling about purple blazes! My calves were burning, and we were barely a third of the way into this! It's fun, though; there's tons of huge boulders along the trail, and great large rocks hanging overhead.
The further up the trail you get, the more you see the evidence of washouts. I will use the word "scramble" lightly. We two girls were, at times, on all fours trying to get around some of the switchbacks, while my Dad flew up ahead of us and delighted in turning around to giggle at our clumsy attempts! What can I say... we are truly novices! The trail follows up the ridge amongst thick plant life, and the closer you get to the waterfall, the steeper and more thick the trail gets. It is very rocky on the approach to the falls, and dangerous because the spray from the falls keeps everything slick and damp. The view, yet again, though, is spectacular.
We snacked and enjoyed the view, because, what else should you do? It was fantastic. The colors of the trees around the falls framed it perfectly; a beautiful autumn day. We climbed out for better views, thankful for shoes with good traction.
Again, be careful of the slippery rocks. We went further up from the right side of the falls along a really rough trail; this part could be dangerous, as it is so washed out and overgrown. The upper falls are equally beautiful, and provide a pretty amazing look out of the area!
We were probably up at the falls for about an hour, taking time with both parts of the falls and snacking on peanuts (thanks for the provisions, Dad).
If you felt it was a bit intense climbing up, it's probably worse headed back down. Scrambling is the word I use lightly! Go slow, and take your time on the climb down. It's really easy to slip or loose your footing. We were back to the trailhead by about noon; it's a quick hike, but well worth the effort. This trail isn't for the faint of heart, nor the faint of lungs! We got lucky with our timing; the fresh fall foliage hadn't faded brown and made the trees look sparse. We had a great morning, and I hope any body who has the time can make a day out of enjoying the beautiful Fallls Creek Falls!
Thanks to Elizabeth and Dad for joining me on this particular trail!