Monday, July 5, 2010

Dennis Cove Falls

The hike to Upper and Lower Dennis Cove Falls is about a 3 mile roundtrip walk on a well worn trail through a tunnel of rhododendron along the many cascades of Laurel Fork Creek. The good news is that, unlike most waterfall hikes around this part of the country, there's very little gain in elevation (about a 100ft) from the parking lot to the falls. The bad news is the three creek crossings with no bridges - we don't need no stinkin' bridges. On this trip the three crossings were manageable with some creative rock hopping, but if the water was much higher the only choice might be to wade across.

Both the upper and lower falls are cascading waterfalls which form large pools at their bases, perfect for a swim on a hot summer day. Laurel fork is a popular trout fishery, so be courteous to the folk you see fishing.

Several hundred yards after the third creek crossing, you'll come to the only tricky part of the trail, tricky because it's a very narrow ledge alongside a slick rock with some tree roots to hold onto. Just a bit further up the trail and you come to a side trail on the right that angles down to the pool below the lower falls.

Lower Dennis Cove Falls (10-ft high)
N36 14.981 W82 05.946, 2880ft elevation

The lower falls are a 10 foot high cascade with a wide shallow pool at the base. The tree on the left obscures most of the falls, but you can rock-hop into the middle of the creek for a better view. I got to the falls a bit late in the morning, so getting a high-quality, long-exposure shot was no longer possible.

Return to the main trail and continue for a few hundred feet to a second spur on the right that angles downhill to the base of the upper falls.

Upper Dennis Cove Falls (25-ft high)
N36 14.981 W82 05.946, 2860ft elevation

The upper falls are a 25 foot high double cascade with a large pool at the base of the lower fall.

I didn't get to the falls until mid-morning, so there was too much light to get a really long exsposure shot to work. I really need to get myself a neutral density filter for days like these. I was able to get this one which has some 'swirlies' in the pool below the falls - they are so cool when done right, but this one was just too short of an exposure get it really right.


To get there from Rt. 19e in Hampton, go north on route 321/67 toward Mountain City, drive 0.8 miles and turn right onto Dennis Cove Road - immediately in front of Citizen's Bank - there's a small brown 'Dennis Cove' sign pointing the way.

Dennis Cove Road is very curvy, very steep, and quite narrow in places. Travel the 4.9 miles to a gravel parking area on the left immediately before crossing the single lane bridge which leads to the Dennis Cove Campground. The trailhead is back across the paved road, just to the right of the bridge.

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