Friday, May 7, 2010

Red Fork Falls

I made a quick trip to Red Fork Falls after work, the light was still pretty good when I got there about 7:30PM. It may seem odd to call this a hike becaue the total distance is less than 1/2 mile, but the last 100 yards make it tough. The hike profile doesn't begin to convey just how steep the terrain is when you get to the falls - it's darn near vertical!

Red Fork Falls (60ft high)
36 deg 09.008N 82 deg 15.702W, 3075ft

The short half-mile hike is extremely steep and very slippery. Many people have been seriously injured attempting to view these falls. You don't so much hike to the falls as you actually climb down along side them, and there's no steps, just rocks and tree stumps to hold onto. It's definitely a beautiful waterfall but this hike isn't for everyone. Take your time, use caution, use a hiking stick, and make sure to wear shoes with ankle support and good tread. Oh, and stay away from the slippery rocks near the water!

To get there take the Unicoi exit (#32) off I-26. At the end of ramp turn east towards town. At the stop sign, turn right onto Unicoi Road and proceed for 0.7 miles. Turning left onto Rt. 107 (Limestone Cove Road) and drive 7.8 miles, then turn right on Red Fork Road (aka Unaka Mountain Road). Proceed up the mountain for 1.2 miles to a small parking area and trail head to your right. It's marked with a big red dot on one of the trees. After a short walk down the gravel road, cross the creek, follow the trail across a second creek. Continue on the well-defined trail a hundred yards or so and you will end up at to the top of the falls. This is where the near-vertical descent alongside the falls begins. Again, if you decide to go down to the base of the falls, be careful, go slow, and stay on dry ground as much as possible.

Here's a shot from the side of the falls near the top.

The falls continue down the mountain, I intend to see them as well, but light was waning so they will have to wait for another day.

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