Monday, July 28, 2014

Cherokee National Forest: Wolf Creek Falls

Today is the last day of my furlough and my first time out for a solo adventure in a while. I took inspiration from our family outing on Saturday to head into a part of the woods I've never been in before. I headed to Wolf Creek. On Saturday, while driving to the Betty Place Trailhead, we passed a sign for the Wolf Creek Trailhead. This trailhead was not marked on my map and so I did a little bit of research on it when I got home. It turns out that it is the starting point for a horse/ATV trail up an old carriage road to Wolf Creek Falls. I was intrigued and today had the opportunity to explore the area a little.

The drive tot eh trailhead seemed long, but the air was cool enough this morning to drive with the windows down. I turned off of US 25/70 and onto the marked road. It was paved for a short distance but turned to gravel near a church.
trailhead sign
The road was also quite rutted and muddy. Still, it was not too rough for my Honda Civic. I parked at the end of the road in a big gravel lot and then hit the trail. Almost immediately the trail forded Wolf Creek. I headed back to the car for my sandals, put them on my feet and tied my boots together to hang around my neck.
selfie with boots

I forded the creek for the first time. The water felt good and cool, but the stream was moving pretty swiftly due to last night's rain. Once across I decided to leave my sandals on, as I figured there would probably be another ford of the creek. This turned out to be a good decision, as shortly after crossing the creek for the first time, I re-crossed it again. After the second crossing I decided to stick with sandals. I would have two more crossings, but both of them would come much later in the hike. The sandals were handy though for slogging through the muddy trail.
trail
mud

The trail closely followed Wolf Creek for much of its length,
wolf creek (2)
although the trail left the creek for a steep climb towards the waterfall. Along the way I was treated to views of a few species of wildflowers
pink flowers
including Indian pipe.
indian pipe
There were also lots of mushrooms out.
white mushroom
Soon after the steep climb, the trail met a more muddy road. I turned right at this junction because the road led downhill. This turned out to be the correct decision as the road soon ended at a campsite from which raging water could be heard.

I took a faint path from the campsite to the top of the falls. There was not much of a view from there and so I looked around and found another trail that led down to the base of the falls. With last night's rain there was a good flow of water falling over the ledge and the view was impressive. The spray from the falls was refreshing. I spent a few minutes eating a snack and enjoying the quiet, secluded spot.
wolf creek falls
I took some photos and then started to head back to the car. On the return trip I decided to wear my boots as I knew when to expect creek crossings and the little grains of rock that got caught in my sandals were rubbing my feet raw. I made good time on the return hike and was back to the car in no time at all.          

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