February 26, 2017

Rocky Fork State Park

  • 5.43 miles
  • 3:48 duration
  • 783 feet elevation gain
  • 8 creek crossings
  • 4 caches visited (previously found)
  • 3 caches found
  • 1 DNF

As one of Tennessee’s newest state parks, Rocky Fork State Park is a hidden gem. The hiking stick and I were joined once again by LakeBum (Rob) and his hiking stick on this adventure. Our goal was to follow the Flint Creek Trail about 2.5 miles into the park so that Rob could log one of DMFlyer’s Adventure Awaits caches.

All along Rocky Fork are numerous beautiful cascades – a photographer’s dream. The bright green moss on the rocks next to the rushing water makes for some beautiful scenes.

I had warned Rob to be prepared for several creek crossings. On my last visit, the trail was very hard to follow after the first 1.5 miles in, at times weaving back and forth across and sometimes through the creek.

When we entered the park, I first noticed a large, new parking area just inside the gate. I assume it will be open during the busier summer months. I also noticed that the trails were well marked with attractive new signs and spiffy plastic, color-coded trail markers all along the route.

When we had been hiking for a while, I told Rob that we were about to reach the dicey part of the trail where the creek crossings would begin. Much to my surprise, we soon came along a newly constructed footbridge, and then another, and another. Between these bridges, the trail markings, and several spots where steps had been built using rocks or logs and planks, the journey was much easier than before. We eventually came to a point where a bridge is under construction, and then had two more creek crossings past that before reaching the cache. All three of these crossings were easy rock hops, but are also shallow enough to walk through with proper footwear.

The cache location is next to a forest road, high above the creek and across the ravine from Flint Creek Falls. We decided to continue along the road past the cache location because it appeared to angle back down toward the creek. We then followed the creek downstream to the base of what DMFlyer calls Flint Creek Falls.

This narrow falls cascades for at least a hundred feet down the mountainside into Flint Creek. Unfortunately, it is so overgrown with rhododendron that you can only catch quick glimpses of the water, and it is nearly impossible to photograph. Instead, I focused my camera and attention on some photogenic cascades in Flint Creek itself.

We then creek-walked downstream to a place where we could climb back up to the roadway and begin our journey back out. After about a mile, we stopped off to log one of the five caches we passed on the way in, at the site of the Battle of Flint Creek. After logging the cache, we sat down to have our lunch. We then continued back out of the park, stopping off at caches along the way. At the park entrance, we looked unsuccessfully for a cache hidden there before climbing in the truck.

Two more caches in magical places awaited us on the drive along Rocky Fork Road toward the highway. The first was at a place called Blue Hole by the locals, a popular swimming hole in warmer weather. Although I had taken a dip just two days prior, the temperature on that day had been a good 30 degrees warmer, so I contented myself with photographing the pool and the cascade below it. We then drove a little further down the road to another picturesque place along the stream where an extended search netted us one last cache for the day.

I encourage anyone who has not explored this park to do so. It has much to offer in hiking trails and beautiful scenery, and though quickly becoming popular, it appears to still be much cleaner than most area parks. Perhaps the trashy hikers haven’t found this gem yet. Let’s hope they never do.

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