Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Three Falls in One Morning

Sunday July 8, 2018                                                     Most Recent Posts:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park                         The Beautiful Jakes Creek Falls-The Sadness of Neglect
Tennessee                                                                    Going Back In Time

Today I was able to see two easy roadside waterfalls.  The third required a hike. 

Not one soul is here at 6:50 am when I stop along the Little River Road at a pull out to see  Lower Meig Falls.  The road follows the river and it’s hard to keep your eyes on your driving with such beauty right beside you.  Good thing the speed limit is 30 mph.


Lower Meig is the bigger of the falls and is more than five miles from its upper falls where I’ll head next.   Obviously the falls is a good distance from the road.  Although my camera with its wide angle lens actually makes it look further than it is.


To compensate, I can zoom in.


I read that the falls begin with two modest steps of 5 feet and 2 feet when Meigs Creek emerges from a tunnel of dense rhododendron, hardwoods, and pine.  The creek travels 45 feet from the top steps to drop 5 feet onto a 3 foot wide gutter which shifts the flow from right to left about 15 feet.  The water then plunges 28 feet over exposed Thunderhead Sandstone as I see it now.   It’s nice to imagine the travels of the water to get to what I can see.

IMG_6852To reach the Upper Meigs Trailhead I drive up the road  a short distance, cross the bridge as the river moves to the other side of the road and turn right into a parking lot for what is known as The Sinks. The lot is used mostly by folks wanting to see this roadside attraction. 

The swirling waters of the Little River cascade over this man made waterfall.

  Before trains rumbled through the Smokies to carry the logs out, loggers floated them down the river to mills.  During a flood in the late 1800s a massive log jam formed here in this bend of the river. 

Loggers used dynamite to free the logs.  The explosion blasted a deep hole in the rocky streambed creating The Sinks and altering the course of the river.  I just have to sigh


I read that the nameThe Sinks came about because supposedly it gives onlookers the impression that water is draining from a sink. Not sure who thought that up or when but that wasn’t the impression I go.  Still, the river definitely comes roaring down and over the blasted rocks.


Meigs Mountain Trail to Upper Meigs Falls begins just beyond the viewing area for The Sinks.

Beyond the steps, the trail is rooty, rocky and soon becomes pretty narrow. 

It is a rather steep climb over Curry He Mountain.  I’m not going that far, as in Over. 
I turn around for this shot of where I’d come.  There are a lot of switch backs in this climb.

Not sure how you’d pass someone coming the other way without falling down the steep hillside.


Now I have a narrow trail on a steep hillside plus obstacles.


These bright yellow spots are today’s most common flowers.  They grow in little clumps here and there along the way.



There are 4 creek crossing on this trail requiring rock hopping.


Some are easier than others.


The sounds of  hidden cascades give them away so I know to look for them.


Last month there was a lot of Solomon’s Seal and False Solomon’s Seal in bloom.  Today I find the false Solomon Seal flowers have turned to berries.  Someone has eaten nearly all of them.


And there it is, Upper Meigs Falls.  I’ve come almost 2 miles


I climb down to get a closer look at the 18’ falls.  That’s not possible with 28’ Lower Meigs.


Today the falls is probably not as full as it was a few weeks ago.  But there is enough water for it to have split into two. The main falls is almost out of the picture on the right.  The terrain prohibited me from getting far enough away to get all of both of them in one picture.   I understand that in high water it covers the entire rock face behind me. 
What am I looking at??


So I take one picture of each side.



OK, more than one.  Different angles dontcha know.


It’s true, I love waterfalls.  This is number 5 if you count The Sinks as a falls.  Not sure about that.


Things are rougher on the far side of the main falls.  It looks quite different from here.


I’ve been here nearly 45 minutes and had the falls all to myself when I decide reluctantly to head back up the trail I took down, there on the left, and return to the main trail.


One last look back.


As I’m climbing I can see back beyond the falls at the water before it tumbles over.


Up on the main trail is a cute group of Downy Rattlesnake Plantain.  The tallest one is about 15”.


The name comes from the look of their leaves there at the ground.


All the way up the spur trail I wonder if there is a way to get closer to the top of the falls.

I can see it there through the thicket.


I find a spot with a better view.


There isn’t actually a path but I manage to get about this close.  It’s hard to take good pictures of the entire flow coming toward me from my left.   The distance pictures are much better.


Still, nothing beats being right there to hear and see it as it pours over the edge.


The rhododendron here are a beautiful pink.  These are the Rosebay Rhododendron and, like the Catawba, don’t show up well in distance pictures but with this bit of a zoom I can see 3 in this picture of the top of the falls.



I’m on my return trip when I see my second centipede of the day.  The first one I saw on my climb up was yellow.


This one is pink.   Other than color, they look the same to me so I have no idea what, if anything, color means.  Let me know if you do.


I thought the millipedes were my only wild life for the day until I came to one of the creek crossings and as I started across a great blue heron and I scare each other.  Thankfully I had my camera set from just taking a picture so I was able to snap this before he flew further on down the stream.   The picture I took of him flying is just a blur.  Notice all the rhododendron blossoms around him.

I quietly skulked around and was able to get a few more blurrish pictures of him back in the rhododendron


I was seriously not expecting to see a Great Blue Heron in a mountain stream in Smoky Mountain National Park.   They sure do get around.

I hike the rest of the trail without incident and see only two people on my way back until I get to the top of the stairs taking me down to the parking lot and there they are.  It’s 11:00 now. 


As I reach the parking lot I’m really happy I started out early this morning when . . .


. . . the lot looked like this.   I’ve hiked 4.64 miles and had a great quiet morning at the falls.  Getting out early is the only way to enjoy the park and avoid the crowds in July.



  1. I love waterfalls too. So many! All that rain the east coast is having helps feed the falls.

  2. Thanks for taking us to a Fall we missed...your photos are GREAT!! Probably my favorite thing about The Great Smoky Mountains has been the sight and sound of water. The rain is annoying, but it sure gave us some spectacular sights and sounds!!!

  3. The best part of hiking at the Smokies is that you are well under the trees and no sun exposure. We love waterfall too and I admire your determination and goal this summer. So Im looking forward to see the waterfall we have visited when we got there. Have a go at it and thank you for taking me back to the Smokies.

  4. There's something so magical about waterfalls. When I could get around I went to as many as I could get to. I was amazed when I was in Yellowstone how many undiscovered waterfalls there are.

  5. Lovely waterfalls! I so enjoy hiking with the sound of water. It just adds to the already relaxed state. I really appreciate my hiking poles for those water crossings.

  6. Beautiful falls!! That is quite the narrow and "obstacled" trail along the water. Those centipedes are so creepy. I'd much rather come across a snake :-) Wonderful that you're able to get out on the trails without others!

  7. Your title scared me, I thought you fell! Falls are no good as I sit here in the rehab hospital next to my 96 year old dad who fell last Thursday and broke his hip. Had a hip replacement done and now we're doing 2 weeks of inpatient rehab. So you be careful out there in the woods, don't want you to fall while hiking to a fall. ;c)

  8. A Great Blue Heron in a mountain stream?? That's a first! I never would have expected that, either. Such a beautiful, peaceful hike. Love all of the tiny beautiful things you show us along the way. :-)

  9. Great hike!! Lovely waterfalls and unexpected blue heron sighting! I,too, would enjoy it most in the morning without the crowds!

  10. Finn and I enjoyed your pictures. He said, "Oooooooo!" when he saw the waterfalls and "caterpillar" for the 2 millipedes and "Dere he is!" at the bird picture. Loved the close up of the rhododendron bloom. Beautiful! I bet those falls sounded as pretty as they looked. xxxooo


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