Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Crossville Weekend Scouting Trip

Caney Fork River with trees growing in it

Crossville Weekend Scouting Trip  
Friday Jan. 16-Sun. Jan 18, 2015
Dana & Kenny Koogler

Day 1--Saturday
  We planned to run away from home this past weekend and so we did.
We wanted to spend a day of riding the RZR and a day of hiking and/or bushwhacking.
We got us a hotel in Crossville and spent a couple nights.    We waited until hunting
season was officially over before attempting it. 

      We want to come to Virgin Falls from a different route via Big Bottom.
The Caney Fork River was far too deep and running too swiftly to cross as expected.
We were determined not to let that stop us from exploring and having a good time.
We opted instead to ride as far as we could from Big Bottom.   We then planned to go 
around to the Mooneyham side and see if we couldn't come in from that way. 
We wanted to learn the other access point especially in the event we'd ever be in there
and the river would come up fast.  

      We got up early Saturday and went out with the RZR to ride.   We arrived at Big Bottom
having passed Lost Creek Falls on the way.  It was looking good and we decided we'd eat lunch there and I could practice photography with the camera.   

     The Caney Fork was huge today.    We made it all the way up the trail to where there is a sign indicating Foot Travel Only from there on.   The GPS indicated it was 0.7 miles to Virgin Falls. Kenny was interested in walking there from here. I was not interested in bushwhacking that distance over that terrain to Virgin Falls. That would have been one extremely rough 0.7 miles.  On the way to arrive at that point was something else.
We had to winch up the steepest bank we've done to date.   We had a wheel off the ground at one
point and we were both uneasy about the possibility of turning over. Kenny also had to cut downed
trees off the trail. I helped him clear the debris. Along the way  we found a small waterfall
that looks to me to be a wet weather type.   It was pretty though and I got out to take photos.
 Caney Fork River near Big Bottom
Small waterfall way on up the holler.

 Stone wall remnants along the trail. There was an entire community back here, but it is erased
by nature and the river now.
Wide, deep ford.  You can see the bottom here for quite a ways, but there is a deep spot that is running fast out past where you can see.  

     We saw a few other riders today just out messing around.   Since we could not get across 
we did not have much riding to do on this side of the river.  We left the trailer parked at the end and rode back up White Cave Road to Lost Creek Falls to eat lunch.   After some photography time and time spent enjoying the falls we sat down on some boards and ate a sandwich.
We met one of the riders we'd passed and spent some time talking with him. His name is Dan White and is local.   He was a very interesting and fun person to talk with.  He encouraged us
to go check out Welch Point while we were in the area and we promised we would.

Lost Creek Falls today.

   We went back to the truck and loaded up and headed round to the other access point.
We had never been in this area before and had no idea what we were getting into.   We passed one road that was signed as an entrance for Bridgestone-Firestone but we weren't sure if it was the right way to go so we stuck with the Flowing Well Road.  It was a muddy, rutted quagmire, but
we did find the place to go in from here.   They are logging it and it has torn the ground up.
We went out through the pines in what looked like a tunnel!  We began heading downward losing 
elevation.   It was rocky, rough terrain.   We had the GPS coordinates for the Davis Cemetery.
We knew we could take the ATV that far.   We finally made it there and were pleased to see it.
Davis cemetery. It is very remote and old. It has comb graves like some others in the plateau.

     We explored a bit further making it down to the Caney Fork and Fish Hole Ford.  The river has deep blue holes of water and spots where rapids gush past.   It was unfordable today, but Summer will have the water down and we'll be able to make our trip down here. We'll make a Summer trip to Virgin Falls and Rose Cave.  It will be a good time to swim.   

Top --Fish Hole 
Bottom -- a spot of rapids below The Fish Hole Ford

   We went back to Davis Cemetery and headed back in the direction of Big Bottom along the river.    The signs indicated it was OK to take the RZR on these trails.   We planned to go as far as the uncrossable ford we saw from the OTHER side of the river.   We made it and the ride was quite pretty.  We sat checking out the rapidly flowing waters of the Caney Fork a group of three or four other riders passed by on the far side.  They sat watching us for awhile. Probably wondering if
we were foolish enough to try to cross.   We were loosing the light quickly down in this holler. 
I was getting cold for the first time all day.   We began making our way and found some trails down in there that will make for another good ride in the future.  Fun trails that have whoop dee doos like a rollercoaster!    We made our way gradually back up over rocks and the steep slopes.  
It went easier than we'd expected.   Once we emerged from the pines on the plateau level we were treated to a beautiful sunset.   There is nothing like a sunset on the Cumberland Plateau.
Black pine tree silhouettes against the orange gold glow on the horizon.   The sky was painted hot pink, purple, orange, gold, lavender. We watched as it faded to a pink gold glow.
    We loaded up and headed back toward Crossville. We were muddy, tired, cold and dirty, but very happy.   Back at the hotel we got showered up and went out to eat at the Vegas Steakhouse and Lounge. It was delicious! We were glad we tried it.  Kenny had a steak and baked potato and a beer.  I had egg plant parmesan and a glass of burgundy.  It is a nice atmosphere for dining and the service was fantastic.  

                                 Day 2--Sunday

   Sunday morning we got up and packed, checked out and headed to breakfast.   
We enjoyed Shoney's Breakfast Bar.  They made their money off me today.  It doesn't make
sense to order the breakfast bar when you're dieting, but I did it anyhow. Sadly many Shoney's 
restaurants are closing down across America.   

    We planned to make an attempt to find Rogers Creek Falls and Puncheon Camp Creek 
Twin Falls today.   We had tried before.  Today we planned to go round and come in from another
direction.    We went round and approached from the west/ southwest.    First try today was
to come in as close as possible by road on Puncheon Camp Road.   It was a better mud bog 
four-wheeling event than waterfall attempt.  The truck was caked even more with mud.  We 
went as far as we could but only got within about 0.4 miles from the end of the road. 
The terrain past the mud road was unforgiving.  Pine plantation and deep gorge.  

    We turned around and headed back and tried again from Bryant Mill Road.  We were able
to park near a gate and walk back that way along an old logging road.   We hiked a very tough 0.6 miles across muddy fields, pine stobs, weaving our way through swamps, claustrophobically  close 
pine thickets, and down over the side of a steep bluff.   We managed to get within 50 feet of the falls and could hear it thundering and see it, but could not go further.  We had 100 feet of rope with us to rappell down, but no guarantee of a way back up once down there.   A crawl back up the bluff
and a hike out the cliff line revealed that the further east we went the worse the terrain got.  
The cliff line was deeper the more we went east.   I was exhausted and frustrated.  

    Frustratingly close glimpse of the falls through the trees.  :-(

    We made our way back to the truck trudging along.  It was easier going back than it was coming down.   Once back at the truck we pondered what to do?  We plugged both the Crusher Hole in and the Welch Point GPS coordinates in and decided to go see Welch Point instead. I wanted a sure thing.  I was too frustrated to face anymore defeats today.    

    We ate lunch at Welch Point and soaked up the view.  We visited with Ken and Dave.. two fellows who have a camp nearby.  Their people are from the area and they were funny.
It cheered me up as did the pretty view.    We will come back and try those falls again another day.

View from Welch Point.  

** Magicmomma's Crystal Ball of the Future**

 I see us making it to Rogers Creek Falls and Puncheon Camp Creek Twin Falls.
Visiting the Crusher Hole
Making a big day of hiking to all the Pollys branch area falls and overlooks


  1. Great Blog. I am sending you some maps in an email on GoSmokies.

  2. Thanks Mike. You made my day. I will show Kenny when he gets home. I am keen to do this again SOON. I have my grandkids this weekend. We are going to church Sunday and Lord willing to have lunch at Elvira's Cafe' after church and then on to hike Lynn Prong with the whole fam damily. You and yours would be welcome to join us for any and all of it!


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