Hike Rock Creek Falls in Unicoi Tennessee
A Beautiful Waterfall Experience
T and I had an amazing adventure on Unaka Mountain. His Summer Camp had taken him to Rock Creek Falls and he wanted me to see it too. After discovering it was less than an hour away we headed for Rattlesnake Ridge Trail in Unicoi. Here we easily found Rock Creek Recreation Area. The first thing I noticed was a stream fed swimming pool that looked like a lot of fun. The area also offers picnic tables, camping, a playground, and a bathhouse. Still, we were there to hike.
Together we picked up the main trail with no trouble but almost immediately we took a wrong turn and ended up hiking almost four extra miles up Rattlesnake Ridge. This is a pretty serious hike. It gets steep and the trail sometimes gets very narrow with some drop offs. We moved cautiously. The last time T had been here his group had run into a large rattlesnake right in the middle of the trail. So we were very cautious. We also saw fresh bear poo on the trail.
This is not a trail I would take him on again but it was a great hike. It was hot, almost ninety degrees, and even though a lot of the trail is thick with trees including tall oaks, maples, hemlocks, and rhododendron, we were dripping by the time we reached its peak. This trail is rated as moderate but we both thought that was being a little gentle. I would highly recommend saving Rattlesnake Ridge for a nice, cool, Fall day.
T and I turned back and this time took the correct trail to the Falls. This hike is about two miles and climbs about 1200 feet in elevation. The trail crosses water four times so be prepared to get your feet wet. Rock Creek offers an Upper Falls and a Lower Falls and this hike was pretty easy for us. It does get steep but none of the frightening drop offs were present and the trail is lined by a charming stream on one side and thick woods on the other.
It is clean and well cared for. We never saw a single rattle snake which was a relief. We did see about a hundred tiny frogs.
We also saw countless mushrooms including this Old Man of the Woods!
We were hiking on a Wednesday afternoon in late July and we only encountered one other group of people. It was a peaceful hike. When we finally reached the lower falls we were so excited. We rushed up the last incline to the Upper Falls and could not wait to get wet!
The Falls did not disappoint dropping its cascade of crystal clear water fifty feet down into the pool below. It was absolutely gorgeous! We stayed and played in the cold waters below it until the sun started threatening to set and then we headed back. We were starving and all of our water bottles were empty.
At the end of the day, we had hiked a total of 8.9 miles and exceed 20,000 steps. I thought T might think that a but much but instead he declared it our best hike ever! I also thought it was worth every mile!
Directions to Rock Creek Falls:
From I-26 take exit 34 to Main Street (TN 107) in Erwin, take a left on TN 395 east for 3.5 miles to Rock Creek Recreation Area.
T and I both recommend this hike. It is well maintained, well marked, and lovely. The waterfalls are enchanting and the forest around us felt inviting. I probably wouldn’t recommend hiking both Rattlesnake Ridge and the Waterfall hike on the same day. It’s steep and you feel it the next day. And also the day after that. Still. totally worth it!
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