Monday, March 21, 2016

Porters Creek Trail and Fern Branch Falls

Long spurred violet in the evening sun

Porters Creek Trail and Fern Branch Falls 

Dana Koogler 

Monday March 21, 2016

    I had driven home from a family visit to Virginia with Kenny.  We split the six hour drive up
because he was working in Bristol .  On the way back down the road we stopped after 4 hours and hit the rack at the hotel where Kenny and his co workers are staying.  It was nice to crawl in bed and not have to make the entire drive in one day.    I got up this morning and ate breakfast with Kenny and Tommy.  I took me a cup of coffee to go and down the road I went. Only two hours later I was home. I got everything unpacked and my laundry done. About noon I had all my chores caught up so I rewarded myself with an afternoon hike.

      I had wanted to hike up Porters Creek trail to see the wildflowers and to get some photos of Fern Branch Falls. It had been a good while since I hiked it in Spring.   I always like that trail.
Spring break traffic was pretty heavy in Gatlinburg, but at last I pulled into the parking area for the trailhead.    It was seeing a lot of use too, but it always does.  

       Today was on the cool side, but it had warmed to 45 degrees and was sunny. The air was fresh and the skies blue.   I had on a warm jacket so I was comfortable.   The trail is an easy one.  I have hiked it enough that I know it very well.   I stopped and took photos of the funky bridge that crossed Porters Creek.   
 The leaning and bent bridge over Porters Creek

Here is a last look back at Porters Creek in the evening light. 

Beautiful forsythia along the trail. This was planted by someone who lived in the area that became the park. I love this shrub when it grows wild and rank. 

I always like these stone walls and steps from former structures that remain along the trail.

A glimpse from the trail of the blue blue mountains in the distance. This is looking toward the A.T.

     I walked along part of the trail that looks at the northeastern flank of Greenbrier Pinnacle.
I could see parts of the Cat Stairs and places I knew we had climbed before.  It seemed impossible now from down here that we ever did it.  It is a rugged looking mountain and full of crags.   Porters Creek races by at the foot of the mountain. 

Rapids and rills of Porters Creek.  The water was lower than I have seen it in Spring.

 A pretty vista of the mountains in the distance along the trail.
 Blue skies and sunshine!
A close up view of the lime green and rust brown hues of haircap moss on a log by the trail.

 Fringed phacelia carpets this forest in Spring.  Here is a glimpse of the blooms up close
 Dutchman's Breeches closeup. Saw lots of this today.
 The trail winding through the forest with phacelia starting. It looks like snow in Spring.
 Closeup of Dwarf ginseng
 Trout lilies just starting to open today.  It is early yet.
Trillium grandiflora actually bloomed out!  I saw quite a few of these today! First ones of the season. 

   I visited with a couple ladies who were hiking and checking out wildflowers.  
I was cordial to everyone today, but I was not too social. I just wanted to hike and see flowers and the waterfall and enjoy the forest.  I didn't really want to talk a lot today.
One good thing was that my late start had my contrary to most and I had the woods and the trail to myself most of the time.  I climbed the slopes around the falls and checked out lots of wildflowers. I experimented with different views of the falls.

 Here are my two favorite photos of the fals from this batch.  They looked so pretty today with the moss glowing green!
Fern Branch Falls slides down the mountain gracefully.

Below is a short video of this pretty waterfall.  


  1. Your wildflowers are a good 6 weeks ahead of us.

    1. I expect so. It is 28 degrees here this morning. Back to see your breath cold! We had a frost last night. My pansies and plants I put out are OK though. I hope the wildflowers in the forest remain unharmed.


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