Piney Falls State Natural Area

Last stop for this Tennessee journey was Piney Falls State Natural Area.  After leaving Ozone Falls I had almost no cell service and had to rely on loose notes & Google map printouts.  Took a chance and eventually found the trailhead – no surprise, with sunset looming I was the only one here.

The start of the trail wound through the bare forest with only minor elevation change and was very peaceful.  Crunchy leaves beneath my feet completely obscured the trail but it was very wide and easy to locate.

About 0.5 miles into the hike I reached the top of the falls.  You can see over the edge into the canyon, but there isn’t a good view of the water itself.  Checking the map, it appears you need to cross the rocks in the stream to continue down the trail.  Honestly, this was probably stupid on my part because I was alone but you can learn from me – exercise caution here if you don’t want to go swimming!

Up the trail another 0.1 miles and the descent begins.  “Oh look, a nice rope to hang onto,” you may think.  That rope (thankfully there by design, not accident) was the only thing preventing me from experiencing a 50 foot lesson in how gravity works.  Pucker factor is a healthy 7/10 thanks to wet & slippery rocks.

Once at the bottom it becomes clear the sketchy rope descent is totally worth it.  Huge secluded waterfall with a deep pool.   This would be awesome for swimming in summertime.

Alas, at this point I had run out of sunlight and couldn’t complete the loop to the lower falls section.  Had to scramble back up the cliff (much easier) and across the river back to the trailhead.  Time for one last photo of the sun setting through the pines.  Goodbye for now Tennessee.

Hiking Data

First half mile was calm.  Hopping across river rocks was a bit sketchy but exciting.  Climb down hill = my first adrenaline dump on this trip!  Only halfway joking about that.  Looking at my GPS map shows I didn’t follow the charted trail, but I don’t know where else I could have gone based on what I saw.  Would gladly come back here to finish the actual loop and see the falls again!

Lat = 35.7311821 , Long = -84.8635559 -- Show at Google Maps

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