Saturday, August 18, 2012

Blue Hole Falls

This past Friday evening I went back to Blue Hole Falls in Carter Co. During hot weather this is one of the most popular swimming holes in the area. so if you want to get pictures without people in them you have to go when other folk won't be there, like cloudy evenings, like today.

The weather this summer has been quite odd with some drought, then copious amounts of rain. The creeks close to home are still quite low but the foliage along the banks and moss on the rocks are unnaturally green. I was curious if the same was happening on the southeast side of the mountains as well.

Blue Hole Falls is a series of four drops in a relatively short space, with the third drop into a deep plunge pool giving the falls their name. This first drop had the least amount of water, it flows over the top of the rock and around to the left, and around the rock coming in low on the right. At the current water level neither was very impressive.

Upper Blue Hole Falls
The next shot is an one section from a series of cascades before the next drop. It was taken from an odd angle as I was trying to balance on a slime-covered rock with the camera between some tree limbs.
cascade between the upper and grotto sections

My personal favorite of the four drops is the grotto falls. Even at low flow this 10 foot drop into the shallow pool is impressive.

the Middle "Grotto" Falls
Here is another section of the cascade that leads to the third drop. This one was take while holding the tripod feet against a rock so that the camera was almost horizontal so that I could get a shot of the really cool swirly dip.

swirly dip before the plunge
The next drop gives falls into a deep blue plunge pool that gives these falls their name ... although this time they could just as easily be called the green hole falls. This fall usually splashes out into the plunge pool but with the lack of water it wasn't making it to the pool.The whole scene was very green so I hunted around trying to find some angle that would minimized the green. I ended up hunkered down on the edge of the drop-off for the the last fall, which let me include these red/brown/yellow/gray rocks in the foreground, it took the edge off.

the Blue Hole Falls proper
The water was so low that the final drop was just a water running over a long algae-covered slide. There's also a lot of downed timber covering the face of this drop so I didn't bother with trying to get a picture, it was just running water ... nothing special.

If you want to go there yourself, it's pretty easy to get to, just take TN-91E from Elizabethton TN for about 10. Turn left onto Panhandle Road at the brown national forest sign for "Blue Hole". Drive about 1 mile to the small gravel parking area on the left - it's big enough for about 6 cars. From the overlook you can the last three drops from one place. To get there take the trail that starts on the left side of the parking area. It will wind through the trees and go down about 30 ft to the overlook. Be very careful, a fall from up there would be very, very bad. To get to the individual falls go back to the parking area and follow the trail that starts on the far right side of the parking area. It goes downhill the circles back to the left. There is a side trail - and I use the term trail loosely - a second trail to the grotto, and then down the wooden steps to the blue hole proper.

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