Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Finding Four Mile Creek Falls

Hypericum nudiflorum from another trip. 

Finding Four Mile Creek Falls
Dana & Kenny Koogler
Sunday June 19,2011

3 miles round trip bushwhack

Pictures are here:

     We'd been wanting to get out and hike, but had been sticking around home doing some
repairs to our house where the hail storm beat it up. Sunday was Father's Day and after church we made our escape to a place I suggested in Morgan County.  I'd seen a photo of a
waterfall there and gotten the way points from Tennessee landforms. Thanks Tom!
We both wanted to see something different and do a  hike that was a little more challenging from a navigational standpoint.  I bought Kenny a new GPS for Christmas. He's used it several times ATV riding, but never learned to mark way points and seek them out. We thought today would be a good day to give it a try. We'd had several days of hard rain and figured the waterfall should be worth visiting . We tossed some things in the backpack and headed out.

      Morgan County has several really pretty places to enjoy outdoor adventure such as:

Frozen Head State Park
The Cumberland Trail
The Obed Wild & Scenic River
Brimstone ATV Riding Area
Wind Rock ATV Riding Area

     The area we were heading to was not among any of those known places. Its the kind of hidden jewel we love.   Rugged and beautiful and seldom visited.  We set my vehicles G.P.S up to find the coordinates on the driving part. I call her "Babala"(Barbara).  We proved today that she will take us to the nearest road access to a way point.   We drove out through Morgan County's rolling countryside. It was beautiful. We had rain at home, but heading west we were driving out of it.  The lilies pictured at the start of this blog entry are day lilies and are very common. They were along the roadsides and fields everywhere.  Deep green countryside interspersed with patches of bright orange.  Too numerous to count is what I'd say about those lilies. We also saw lots of bright yellow tickseed and blackeyed susies. Patches of orange butterfly weed could also be found along the roadsides. 

          We arrived at our first destination and realized the GPS in my jeep had brought us
to the right spot. We were on a bluff top that sloped down across a farm field and past a barn.
It was gated on private property.   We turned around and tried the next road access about 1/2 mile further down.  It met a dead end at Hall Cemetery.  A rough dirt track continued through the forest at the edge of the farm fields and cemetery.  We were a short distance from the
falls according to Kenny's G.P.S, but this was where the walking started. We could tell from the G.P.S that while it would be shorter to go straight ahead we'd simply emerge at the top of a high rocky bluff after having struggled through almost impenetrable forest and weeds. It is usually smarter and safer to approach a waterfall from downstream.

Path of Thorns lay between us and the falls.

  Due to the Bluff above the falls,we opted to try the old road to circle round to the bottom and come up. 

     We started down the sandy road and soon the surface changed to walking on flat, smooth stone. We saw a path heading off to the left in the direction of the falls and checked it out.
Here is what we now found blocking our progress.

Swamp at the top of the bluff.

    We turned around and started back down the old dirt track that changed again in character to a soupy, muddy mess.  We found a couple intersections along the way giving a chance for further trail confusion, but we managed to pick the main and correct fork each time. It wasn't too bad. Frogs were jumping in the mud holes. The sun had come out and was shining brightly through the trees. The air was cool and smelled of damp earth and healthy pine forest and flowers.  It was a good day for a hike with perfect weather.  Tiny rivulets of water ran down the old road along its sides.   We finally came to a point along the road where we turned and went into the woods on the left and found Luke Hall Branch. We headed into the forest and followed the stream up the holler.

     The walk was mainly on the left of the stream heading up and we began to see
orange survey tape along the way as markers.  Someone had come up here in the past to see something?! This is always encouraging to see as it means you are probably on the right track.  The forest was mostly open on the left while the right was overgrown and the track so tight into the creek it would have been harder on that side.   The woods here are healthy hemlock forest. It is gloomy and dark here most of the time. It smelled great and was so cool. The heat of the day combined with the recent thunderstorms had the woods sending up a constant mist. You could walk along and see your breath condense from time to time!  A rare bolt of sunbeams would enter the forest. The sunbeams were made more glorious by the deep forest gloom.  Pipsissewa bloomed all over the forest floor.  It was beautiful and the woods were quiet except for us and some birds singing.  We never saw another soul. We saw very little trash.  When we finally got to the falls we found an orange plastic dish drainer or something that had washed over the falls!

          We found a spot where we turned and started looking for the confluence of Luke Hall Branch and Four Mile Creek.  It was located easily and the spot was very scenic. 

Four Mile Cascades

     We turned and started up Four Mile Creek. Fording here both Luke Hall Branch and Four Mile Creek was going to be treacherous due to slick rocks and deep holes of water.  I opted to leave my boots on and just wade the creek in them.  It made for safer tread. I knew when I got back to the jeep I could just take them off and ride home barefoot.   It wasn't far up to the falls from here. Only about another 1/2 mile.
It was tough going now because of rhododendron, slick rocks and the unexpected boulder field on the left.  A boulder field a good place to get your leg broken far from help.   What happens is that there are large and medium sized boulders jumbled on the banks of a stream.  If the stream floods often and high enough it keeps them scoured so you can see where to step and where the individual rocks are.  If the stream does not flood moss begins to grow all over them.  It forms a veil that makes them look like solid ground.  One false step could have you tread on a gap between the boulders that is covered by the lacey curtain of moss. You would then find yourself injured badly. We had to be extra careful.  We didn't have the option of picking the far bank since the bluff came right down to the stream leaving no place to walk for most of the right side.  We ducked under branches, trees and bushes and scrambled over boulders for a short ways.  The stream was then squeezed through a narrow slot.  We found a way around it on the left side.  Once past that we just got in the stream bed and walked.  We finally got a glimpse of Four Mile Creek Falls!
It was more than worth the effort. It is 60 feet high or better. It sits in a rock amphitheater. 

Four Mile Creek Falls

     We hung around at the falls for awhile enjoying the view and soaking it in. We couldn't tarry too long since we had to make our way out of there.  We decided to try climbing out the left bank toward the bluff just to explore and see if there were any cracks in the bluff that might allow a person to take a short cut?  We found none and the bluff line extended as far as we could see.  We followed it for a ways, but it got worse and worse so we had to turn around and follow the stream back out.

        We made much better time coming out and it felt good to have the hard part over with. We'd found it! We had made it back out alive.  We were back out in the sunshine again.  We strolled leisurely down to Clear Creek which today was murky due to the heavy rains.  It was a pretty spot. The only wildlife we'd seen today was a couple grouses we'd flushed up. We stood looking at the rope swing over Clear Creek and a tiny humming bird came and lit on a branch.  What a beautiful place!

Clear Creek Swimming Hole in Morgan County, TN

    We made it back to the jeep and were glad to be done. We were soaking wet from the creek and the humidity.  We headed home agreeing we'll come back and find Mill Creek Falls. We tried that once before unsuccessfully, but have the new and improved GPS and surely we can find it next time! 

Roadside Butterfly Weed


  1. We haven't explored much of the areas near where you live... We've only been in the Big South Fork area once or twice... Looks gorgeous..

    Have you been to the Honey Creek area? Great waterfalls there.


    1. Betsy, We have hiked the Honey Creek Loop. It was Summer. June, if memory serves. The falls were just a trickle. Still pretty. We've visited Sand Cave when the waterfall was really flowing well. There are lots more to see thankfully! We found Four Mile Creek Falls on the 1st attempt. We hunted for and did NOT find one called Mill Creek Falls in the same county. Its On! We're gonna find it eventually. Not to worry.. these falls aren't going anywhere. When and if you get the chance they'll be around!

  2. That looks like a nice serene place to visit. Haven't really been to this area of TN yet. Love that beautiful red columbine in your header. Counting down the days til I get to TN; leaving FL on Mother's day. Just can't wait! Maybe one of these days we'll get a chance to meet on one of my trips up there.

    1. Thank you. I like the columbine too. I am excited for you to be heading this way! :-) I hope to meet you sometime as well!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.