Saturday, February 21, 2015

Coppinger Cove to Bryants Cove -Four Wheeling Adventure

Lula Belle is the name Kenny has given the RZR :-) 

Coppinger Cove to Bryants Cove Four-Wheeling Adventure

Kenny & Dana Koogler

Sat. Feb. 14, 2015
Total ride miles = 30 

Coppinger Cove to Bryants Cove
Photos are here and are a combo 
of three different days events--same trip.

Coppinger Cove Pix

Videos are here: 

Pocket Creek

Coppinger Cove Waterfall

Stream emerges from Ship Cave

   We got up and ate a quick breakfast at McDonald's before we hit the trail. I am thankful
that McDonald's has healthier choices for breakfast now.   I dearly love their fruit and maple oatmeal and it stays with me a long time without dropping my blood sugar later.  We were very excited to get going. We bundled up since it was twenty-two degrees this morning, but it was supposed to warm up to fifty-five degrees through the day.    We dressed in layers we could shed
as the day progressed.   We had ridden down to the jumping off point and checked the water levels
Friday evening.  Looked like it was going to be fine. We had figured where to park in advance.

      We ended up parking along the highway in a wide spot on the shoulder.   It seemed 
like a place no one would mess with anything.   We just putted along down the road a couple miles 
until we hit the trail.   We crossed that first ford without a hitch. It was fun and once we got crossing you could see the rocks on the bottom all the way.  No worries.     We were both 
really excited about today's adventure and hoped we'd find all sorts of pretty spots.  We 
also thought we'd try to located Abraham Falls today from the bottom of the gorge and go
up toward it.   

Deep green shimmering Little Sequatchie River in the Winter sun.

We were treated to riding along on mud, rocks, and through lots of water.
We passed some old home sites, cairns, chimneys, chimney piles, and one really odd
old foundation of something.  I don't know if it was the people's cellar or their house?  See the photo below and you decide.

Kenny by the river at a camp site.

 We came to an sign on a tree that indicated "Higgins Cemetery" so we turned aside to see it.
We passed an old home site with a massive chimney, and the biggest stone walls we'd ever seen outside 
the Smokies.  They built some pretty serious enclosures for something.   Cattle or to protect vegetable gardens against browsing stock or deer.  The cemetery is obviously being well tended
by the descendants.  

 Higgins Cemetery. Most of the graves date 1800s.  

     We continued up the trail and were following the GPS waypoint toward Abraham Falls.
We realized we might not be able to reach it, but it was fun to try and to dream.
No photo of it on Tennessee land forms so no way to tell if it was even worth visiting.  

  We forded the Little Sequatchie at a very wide ford and this is the view looking up the river.

Sitting in the middle of the Little Sequatchie looking at a distant pinnacle. 

Here is a view of a particularly pretty stretch of trail along the river. The day was warming up.

   We realized we were following a track that lead us up Pocket Creek which was part of what we'd need to do in order to locate Abraham Falls.  We held out hope and tried numerous side trails to the right heading east in order to find it.    Each one we tried eventually played out.
At some point we finally arrived at the side drainage or gulf we'd need to enter to head up to it.
It was a mile or so away without any semblance of a trail for either RZR or any foot trail or man-way heading in that direction.   We opted to abandon the search for Abraham Falls for today.
**Note to self: Try reaching Abraham Falls from above along Mt. Olive and Rankin Roads and a shorter bushwhack.  If it is located and IS a worthy waterfall of some size with a healthy flow it 
would be worth the bushwhack from the bottom to reach the base. **

       We did go quite a long ways up Pocket Creek and two things happened.. no three!.. no four!
1.  We realized we had connected the trip from Summer coming in from Bryants Cove with today's ride!  That felt mighty good to put it all together and have it start to make sense. 2. We got within a mile of the base of Mike's Branch Falls where we'd been yesterday.  Consequently if we ever decide to bushwhack to the base of the falls this way might be better than coming in from the chimneys as it is an actual trail. Too grown over for the RZR and too small, but a trail!
3. Kenny realized we could probably take the trail we were on and turn left and keep going coming out in The Pocket up top at some of the views we enjoyed out the trail the previous day. 4. We got to explore Pocket Creek and see some of the hidden gems along it.   

    We were riding along and I saw the terrain make a deep cut back toward the trail.  A 
hole of sorts deep and dark and that little cry from my soul to STOP!  There is something here
worth seeing.   We bushwhacked down to the stream and found a glimmering, aquamarine stream
with a series of beautiful rapids, chutes, tranquil pools and boulders that were deep and dark and
massive.  The bank here was scooped out and had a pretty little sandy beach with mossy stones that made a good place to stand safely and enjoy the scenery.   We climbed all around the boulders
and stood on stones in the middle of the stream.   A little Shangri' La in the middle of Marion County, Tennessee.    We were both beaming with happiness.   I live for moments like this.
Spending time with my sweetie and seeing the beauty of God's created works.  

 My favorite view of the day along Pocket Creek.   Thank you Lord! 

       We also came to the waterfall along the trail we'd been past during Summer. 
It was dried up then. Pocket Creek had almost no water in it during August.    Today it was rushing healthy. We approached this flat area on our left and I saw rock and insisted we turn aside to see it.  
We crested the flat spot and this is what we saw!

A waterfall emerging from the sides of a cave and dropping into a cave.  Ice. Snow. Waterfalls, rainbows.
We spent some time here enjoying this very cool cave and waterfall with its shining rainbow!
It is about 30 ft high and drops into a large sink or cave and the flow of the water disappears from sight.
It is NOT part of the flow of Pocket Creek, but is near it.   

      We continued up the trail a short distance. I got out and walked took pictures and Kenny zipped around in the RZR and played.   Pocket Creek was flowing down toward us.. and formed a pretty, stream wide cascade.   Low, but wide and scenic.   Beyond that and just prior to the cave waterfall the entire stream disappears into a swallet.  It never resurfaces again to my knowledge.

Pocket Creek Cascade-- lots more water than in Summer.

Pocket Creek disappearing down the bath tub drain.... a large square entranced swallet.  Interestingly..
the trail used to cross right above this , but the rock was undercut so much by the force of the stream the rocks and soil gave way and the whole section of trail collapsed and had to be re-routed.  I'd hate like hell 
to have been going over that muther when it gave way!  You'd have gotten washed down to China. 

     We realized we'd connected our two trips and did not really want to repeat all of it since 
there were things on the lower end we had not fully explored.   We turned and headed back. 
We encountered two other rigs with several nice men and some children.  The two men we got to talking to were local fellows who work for Trials Training Center. It turned out to be a most fortunate conversation and hopefully the start of a nice friendship and some future business for
Trials Training Center from us!    Charlie and Pete took a little time getting to know us and 
they were all really fun and interesting.   They asked us some pertinent questions about where
we parked?  We told them we parked along the road and where.  They advised us NOT to do that
in the future.   Invited us to park at Trials Training Center instead for security.   We offered to pay them and they said while they did not require it.. that they'd be happy to take a small donation.
They invited us to a clean up in the cove and a future ride which sounded like a yes on both counts.
They were out doing trail maintenance.  These fellows and their families are salt of the earth.
I look forward to camping with them and riding with them.   

     We hoped to hannah the truck was OK when we got back, but nothing for it now.
They told us how to find Ship Cave and how to find Peter Cave.    We visited Ship Cave first. I was thrilled because I knew where it was before they told us. How did I know?  I had seen a stream of water a strong one.. with a different color entering the Little Sequatchie on the way in.  I knew
that was something we needed to turn aside and see.  I also suspected from the rock formations and cliffs that any or MOST caves in the cove would be toward the western slopes. 

We found that not one but three or four side trails head in the direction of Ship Cave.
The first one we picked was really neat.   It was rocky, but it evened out and took us past
the most idyllic camp site.   It was a spot where Ship Creek went subterranean and then resurged within about twenty or thirty feet!   It was just too pretty.  The closer we got to the cave the larger
the stream that issued from it.   The little cove that held the cave and the creek was sheltered and surrounded by rocky cliffs.   The rock collected the sun's heat and it was warmer there!
You would feel the air coming out of the cave, but  it was just too pretty.  The cave lies
at the base of a large cliff and has two bit openings.   We did not bring lights today or helmets.
We only went inside far enough to take a photo looking out.   Awesome place.

Looking out of one of the entrances of Ship Cave. 
Ship Creek flowing down to join the Little Sequatchie.   We had our lunch here.

The first hepatica's of the season were blooming on the slopes around this cave thanks to the warmth 
of the sun and the moisture.  

    We motored on toward Peter Cave next.  We dreaded it because while it was only about 2.5 miles up there to reach it.... we knew they'd be very ROCKY, bumpy miles.  Having been through the area before.
We had missed it during Summer, but in our defense.. we were OVER IT by then.  The last five or ten miles of the day just about killed us.   The trail is so rocky and rough.  Made my teeth chatter.
We passed more evidence of past human occupation.  

Enormous chimney still in tact on the way to Peter Cave.

Kenny walking up to the entrance of Peter Cave. You could drive a bus or truck in this thing. 
It appears to be a dead end cave, but I expect the caving community knows more about it.  They know how to crawl in tight spaces. 
Towering cliffs above and around Peter Cave.  What a huge place!
The day had warmed up to just jackets. It was great to get out and breathe some fresh air and soak up some sunshine.  

    We motored on back toward the trail head.  It was such a pretty day.  We found everything we'd hoped to find except Abraham Falls which was always a long shot anyhow.  We made some new friends and gained some important knowledge. The stage is set for future, easier, more successful rides.  I see in Magicmomma's Crystal Ball of the Future....

More good times at Trials Training Center. We found us a place to CAMP This Summer!
They will get our business for sure.   We stopped by the house and the center on the way out.
Awesome people!   They've got my heart already and I'll support their business with my loyalty.

It will be a great jumping off point for so many area hikes and rides.  I can see why people move into that cove and those who are there don't want to leave.  I can feel the magic of this area
and the spirit of place is good. 


  1. Wow you guys covered some ground! Love that cellar remains. That cemetery looked pretty cool too.

    1. We sure did Mike. Glad you enjoyed seeing the trip report and the old stuff we found. I like that stuff, but I will never set out to find it. I like seeing it when I am in the area, but not enough to where I'd make it the main thing I'm seeking. It is a side attraction. Makes me wish sometimes I could see what this place looked like when the structures were still standing.

  2. Awesome blog. Great pictures. I'm Pete btw

    1. Thank you. I appreciate you taking time to look at it and comment. I have had a lot of attempts at spam lately so it is refreshing to find that an actual person is commenting rather than a spam bot! :-)


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