Hike To Slave Falls and Needle Arch

March 30, 2017

The weather could not have been more perfect. While they were predicting storms of biblical proportions back in west and middle Tennessee, I decided to head about three hours north east and take in some hiking.

My original plans were to take a good friend of mine on a birthday hike to Twin Arches. However, the weather alerts spooked her and she dropped out. No amount of reasoning was going to convince her that the storms were not going to be anywhere near the area where we would be hiking. She thought I was nuts for going. I knew I would be fine.

So, I hit the road and headed out for yet another solo hike. Early on I decided to ditch the Twin Arches hike. I have been several times and wanted to see a new area of Big South Fork. So, I decided on Slave Falls.

According to the sign at the falls the area is named Slave Falls because escaping slaves would often hide in the caves around the falls.  The area, like all of Big South Fork, is gorgeous. I imagine there were plenty of places for someone to hide. There are many caves in the area and water is everywhere.

After you turn onto Divide Road just follow the signs to the Sawmill Trail head.

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Looking back up the trail after starting the descend.

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The trail hugs the sandstone walls all the way to the falls.

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The falls were not flowing that great, but it was still a hike worth doing. There is a fence to keep people from trying to get to the base.

Hike to Needle Arch

After coming back up the hill at the Slave Falls trail I went left and took the short path up to Needle Arch. It’s a small arch created after thousands of years of erosion. NOTHING compared to the Twin Arches a few miles away. Now THOSE are some arches. While this wasn’t anything monumental, kids will like seeing it. There is a sign posted to keep off the arches. Since the hike to it isn’t all that far it’s worth doing.

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 From the National Park Service Website:

Slave Falls/Needle Arch
This short, easy hike includes a good view of a 60 foot waterfall as well as a natural arch. The hike is approximately 1.5 miles one way and can be done in about an hour. There may be very little water coming over the falls in late summer and fall but the hike is still worthwhile. To access Slave Falls use the Sawmill trailhead located on the western part of the park in Tennessee. Turn on Divide Road and travel one mile from Hwy 154. At the next intersection turn right on to Fork Ridge Road. Sawmill will be on your left just past the Middle Creek Equestrian trailhead.

Need to know:

  • Easy hike for beginners and children
  • Take a camera
  • water/snacks/comfortable shoes

Burgess Falls

A chilly day in November was the perfect day to head to Burgess Falls in Sparta, TN. The drive is only about an hour and a half from Nashville.

The one mile hike down to the falls is one of the best and easiest hikes for newbies to hiking. It is especially beautiful in the fall. There is an overlook that gives you a nice view of the falls and then a lovely trail that takes you down to the top of the falls. At one time there was a metal ladder that ran alongside the falls that you could take to get down to the base. However, due to a flood those steps are no longer safe and have been closed.

There are several tress that have been carved with various loves over the decades.  It’s so neat to walk around and read the trees. I have never had my name or initials carved into a tree.  How neat that would be to go back and see something that was done when you were young and point it out to your children.

 

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Need to know before you go:

  • Easy hike(except for the hike back up the  hill)
  • Great for people just getting into hiking
  • Take a camera with a polarizer and neutral density filter. Tripod a must.
  • Great hike for kids