Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sill Branch Falls

My plan for Saturday was to hike to both Lower and Upper Sill Branch Falls in the Clark's Creek area of Greene county. I've been to the lower falls a couple of times - it's a relatively easy 1/2 mile hike - but I've not yet tried to get to the upper falls. Finding information on a trail to the upper falls was a bit frustrating. I found a few references to the falls but no definitive hiking trail information. But, I did have the GPS coordinates loaded into my handy-dandy Garmin 60CSx, and I have studied the topo maps of the area and I had a plan on how to get there.

Lower Sill Branch Falls (~80ft high)
GPS location: 36 07.474N 82 31.631W, 2170 ft elev.

I set out on the trail and arrived at the lower falls in about 30 minutes. I have pictures of the lower falls, so I set up the tripod and snapped just a few pictures, then packed up and headed for the upper falls. that's when things started going awry.

My plan was to use the trail that scales the mountain to the southwest of the lower falls (it goes up to a cave and a geocache) then wrap back around to the east and hike/hack my way through the woods in the general direction of the upper falls. The mountainside was very steep, but manageable with help from the roots and tree branches. But then it started to rain a little, which is good weather for picture taking, but bad news for scaling mud and moss-covered rocks. I stopped under a rock outcropping to wait out the shower. Once the rain abatted I continued on, but only for a few more minutes. The mountain climbing was quickly becoming rock climbing and another shower came through, so I packed it in and went back to the lower falls. The upper falls will have to wait for another day.

I snapped this picture of the creek on the walk back out to the truck.

From the intersection of Tn 81 and Rt 107 between Jonesborough and Erwin, turn west (toward Greeneville) and continue for 5 miles. Turn left on Clark's Creek Road and drive 3.1 miles (the last 1.7 will be gravel). A parking area on the left has a trailhead sign to indicate the trail for Sill Branch Falls. When the trail splits follow the trailhead marked Sill Branch North, it's the trail to the left. Total distance to the lower falls is about 1/2 mile.

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