March 22, 2020

Rocky Fork State Park

  • 1.66 miles
  • 1:08 duration
  • 529 elevation gain

I had been wanting to show Deban the beautiful Rocky Fork State Park since I first visited here. On this Sunday morning we finally had the opportunity to experience it together. The goals of today’s hike were simply to enjoy the scenery, take a few wildflower photos, give the dogs and us some exercise, and be together.

Melissa met us at the trail-head at about 10:45. There were already several cars in the parking lot, but it was not totally full. The temperature was a mild 50° and the sun was shining. Melissa and I had hiked together the day before, and we both admitted that we were wearing the same, dirty pants from the previous day. I wore a light jacket over short sleeves.

We began our hike at 10:50, making our way up the Rocky Fork Trail. This is the main trail along the creek that leads to several other trails in the park. It is an old forest service road, so is wide and graveled. This made it easier to maintain physical distancing from the other hikers we encountered along the way.

Rocky Fork is a beautiful mountain stream with numerous cascades. I had forgotten to bring my Nikon along, so contented myself with using my iPhone to take pictures. Since this was to be a short hike, we did not carry anything else with the exception of Wesley’s backpack. But, more about that later.

There were many other families along the trail, some of whom had brought their dogs along. Itsy barked ferociously at every dog his saw. Our dogs didn’t really adhere to the physical distancing guidelines, especially when they met a cute little fellow who wanted to pet them.

We enjoyed seeing a few spring wildflowers along the trail, as well as the beautiful creek. We stopped often to take photos. This made for a slow, relaxed pace.

We found a spot where we could easily get close to the creek, and gave Andy and Itsy the opportunity to wade a little bit and drink some water. Andy loves playing in the water!

By this time we had gone about three quarters of a mile which is nearly Wesley’s limit. At 12 years old, he is slowing down and has some pain in his back legs. We stopped to load him into the backpack I had recently bought, made just for carrying small dogs. I had warmed up by now, so took off my jacket. It was a comfortable temperature for hiking in short sleeves.

A short distance further we saw that we would not be able to continue forward on the Rocky Fork Trail. They have closed the rest of this trail while they are installing a new bridge to access the Flint Creek Trail.

Rather than turn around, Deban suggested we continue a short distance up the White Oak Flats Trail. Melissa and I had hiked part of this trail two years ago when participating in a guided hike to some off-trail waterfalls. This is a steep trail, so we only went a short distance today before turning back.

The journey back toward parking was much easier, despite the extra weight I was carrying. This made it challenging to crouch down and take pictures of wildflowers. Well, the crouching wasn’t that hard. It was the getting back up that was difficult. But I managed.

Wesley attracted a fair amount of attention riding comfortably in his backpack. I enjoyed hearing people comment on how cute he was as we would pass by. A few adults said that they wished they could ride that way.

We were back at parking in just over an hour. I hope that we can return soon, but as of this writing all state parks are closed in Tennessee. As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, more and more people were crowding the parks in an effort to get break the monotony of staying at home. This was a great way to get out of the house for a bit, spend time together, while maintaining safe distancing.

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