Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tackett Creek via Carr Gap

Wild Coreopsis along the trail

Tackett Creek via Carr Gap Ride

Kenny & Dana Koogler

Sunday May 18, 2014

Pictures are here: Tackett Creek Pix

starting with frame 197

      We needed to get out of the house after a week spent piled up indoors and in hospitals
with the flu.   We headed north to Lafollette, TN in Campbell County to do some four-wheeling.
We wanted to explore today.  Kenny had visited some areas of Tackett Creek he wanted to show me. He also wanted to get in some practice navigating.  We are alike in this way:
It helps to learn a place if  you go over it more than once  when you are the one doing the navigating.. not just following someone else.  He studied up on it Saturday evening and
we headed out Sunday morning.  I had never been to Tackett Creek this way so it was exciting.

        We parked by the old store and turned in to go up Carr Gap Road.
It is a very rocky old road that goes back past someone's house.  You would not even see it if you did not know first that it was there.  It literally goes off the end of someone's driveway.
Here is this house and yard with the drive running alongside it.  The leaves on the trees and the gloom created by the forest setting make it hard to spot.  Unless you knew it to be there and OK to access you'd never notice it and even if you did... you would not dare go there that close to someone's house.

              We started up the rough, rocky road under cool temperatures. It was Blackberry Winter in Tennessee.  What is Blackberry Winter? Well, in Tennessee we have some changeable weather.
Still there is a pattern to it.  We have Dogwood Winter where it has turned cold again after the first signs of Spring .. and a few warm days or weeks.. we'll get a dip down into Winter again about the time the dogwood trees are in bloom.  Blackberry Winter is when it turns cold and nasty again after
the blackberry blossoms are out.   Up the road we went with the blackberry blossoms hanging thick drooping down onto the road.  The temperature was fifty-nine degrees. The skies so blue and sun shone down warmly. Dragonflies and damselflies darted and zipped like tiny bi planes or gliders
near us.  Bold black, blue, and yellow butterflies flitted and coasted around us. The road was so steep
at times it seemed we were driving straight up into the  blue yonder! I love days like this.
Finally we arrived at a spot where the mountain seemed to crest and we sat looking at a beautiful view. We were at Carr Gap. 

Carr Gap. Red dirt gravel road under the bluest skies. The fresh spring greens of the trees.
I love these bluebird days! 

     We went down the other side of the mountain and upon reaching an intersection turned left on the old railroad grade.  Tackett Creek is a mining site and the site of numerous gas wells.   The
old railroad is gone with the tracks having been taken up and the train tracks moved.  The old grade
is fun to ride and is elevated above the creek and its marshy terrain.  The ridge rises high above us to the left. Below us to the right is a vast swampy area near the creek.  Ferns and hemlocks and every manner of green growing thing abound here.  I love the wildness of this place. It helps ease me from the groomed, tamed down for tourist feel of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here there is none of that.  A fact I am most grateful for.  We came today for me to hunt wildflowers.
I did not have much luck in that department today. I did not care though. It was just great to be out with Kenny and both of us be feeling better.  We went on to the overlook on another gravel, rugged road.  Steep climbs made slow by the rough terrain.   We came to the overlook at this view.

View from the first overlook.  Beautiful Campbell County, Tennessee. 

Breathe in the air and soak up the view.

Kenny and our Polaris RZR at the overlook

   We continued along the ridge just prowling.  We found some areas with lush ferns and pink lady slippers.
Most of the wildflowers I'd seen previously were done for the season.  The woods were still dotted with purple wild geraniums and golden alexanders.  It was still beautiful and enjoyable.  I had to walk the woods enjoying the sun beaming down through the tree tops.  The forest smelled so good of green growing things and damp earth.  I trailed my finger tips along the tops of the soft fronds of all the ferns.  

Luscious ferns along the trail

Golden alexanders and purple geraniums.

Pink Lady Slippers were abundant

New overlook heading toward the gas wells and Valley Creek. 

   Once we came down off the main trail we headed out to try to find the "new" waterfall.
It was one Kenny had visited with the guys. I had not visited here. He had not been sure where to find it our what the name of it was.  I kept after it until I found a photo of it that morning and GPS coordinates!  It turned out to be named Motch Falls.   We were nearly in Kentucky once we arrived at the falls.  It was beautiful itself but the area around it had suffered at the hand of man.
It was the sight of an old house that was next to the road. It appears to have burned down.
Lots of trash is scattered around. 

Motch Falls is about 50 ft high or more. It is hard to photograph. The top part is
perpetually in shadow while the base is in bright sunlight!

Here is a short video of Motch Falls set to the music "She's Just Like Summer".

 We enjoyed waterfall #1 and set a waypoint for it. The ones I got were off enough that
had Kenny not known the way they'd have confused us.  We noticed the trail continued
through the creek and went on.  We had to see where it went??

We went on ahead and in about 100 feet from the first falls came to another un-named waterfall.
He had not seen this one either.

Spring fed waterfall past Motch Falls.

    We rambled on for awhile and thought we'd be able to make a loop here.
Turned out we couldn't so we had to return the way we came.  Valley Creek is really pretty.
There are lots of gas wells out that way.  We went back toward Tackett Creek and through the woods.
I had made Kenny promise to stop at a bridge we'd crossed on the way back. I wanted to go down to the stream and see what it was like.  I'm glad we did that!

Little Tackett Creek. We are sitting in the stream. It is peaceful. Below is a video of this moment.
It was lovely.

Little Tackett Creek on a pretty Saturday in late Spring. No one else around!

     We soaked up the scenery and peace of the stream.  We played. We gloried in one anothers company and aimless wandering for its own sake.  I feel like the luckiest woman alive on days like this.   We were well. We were happy and whole.  No place to be.

     We were ready to head home.  We headed back out Carr Gap Road over the rocks under the blue sky. The smell of wild roses was heady and sweet.  The birds sang.  The dragonflies still zipped around us and the butterflies still flitted around.  Springs of water seeped down the road in spots.
I looked up into the rock forms of the forest covered with moss and lichen.  I noticed the biggest
Fraser magnolia tree I'd ever seen on the way.  It was filled with massive pure white blooms in the crown of it.  It reminded me of cake decorations.  I love being a Southerner in Rural East Tennessee.
Its near to Heaven.    I climbed back in Kenny's truck after helping him strap the RZR back down on the trailer.    The truck was warm and comfortable.  What a great day with my love.

Trail near Valley Creek. The Road Goes On Forever.. and the Party Never Ends


  1. I am looking to explore tackett creek, but there doesnt seem to be a map of the trail system? how did you navigate?

    1. Trent, We use a GPS system that has the maps uploaded and save all tracks of rides. Go with friends who know the area. Use Tennessee Landforms. Use the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer. There IS a map of the area, but it isn't a trail map or system of maintained rides like you find at Royal Blue. respond to me here with your email if you are serious about wanting assistance. If you use a GPS system and have one...... I can connect you with someone who can upload all the trails into it for you. The fee is nominal for what you get. All future updates are free after that.


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