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Archive for January, 2010

This past Saturday was a perfect waterfalling day, perfectly overcast with no rain (but with lots of recent rain). So I knew I couldn’t pass it up, and I decided to visit a fall I hadn’t in ~4 years, Dukes Creek. I hadn’t been there in a while since though it is very impressive (>200 ft), there are a lot of trees in the way, and you can’t get a good shot of it, it isn’t very photogenic. But it was time to re-explore it; off I went to north Georgia.

Dukes Creek Falls is in the National Forest, and there is a parking lot ($3), and a <1 mile nicely kept trail. Being it in January, the trail wasn’t too crowded, though a number of people were there. Even one of my Flickr contacts was there earlier in the day (great minds think alike?)! For those who don’t want to descend, there is a distant viewpoint of the falls before the ~300 ft descent (photo of that view below). I hiked down the trail, and started at the bottom, taking photos as a reason to stop on the way back up.

Now, with this fall is a bit of a nomenclature problem. The fall officially called Dukes Creek Falls (on USGS Topo) is actually on Davis Creek right before it joins Dukes Creek, as you can see it doing here. Dukes Creek Falls is very tall, but again, from the base you can’t get a great shot of it. What I don’t know, is if the creek before Davis Creek joins it is called Dukes Creek already, or is Dodd Creek. I think it is Dukes, so I am going to go with that for the remainder of this.

Both the shot of Dukes Creek Falls and the photo on the left are from the base of the trail, where there is a nice series of boardwalks. This photo is of the last drop of Dukes Creek before it joins with Davis Creek, a nice 15 ft double drop. From here, you can’t see all of Dukes Creek’s cascades before it.

From there, I started the climb back up on the trail. After an initial ascent, the trail follows along Dukes Creek above the main fall area. Around mid-way up the trail, I scampered down the hillside to the most impressive fall (~10 ft drop) during that stretch, which I think is more beautiful than either of the falls at the base. (I wouldn’t recommend this scamper unless you are used to off-trail hiking.)

As I made it up to the top of the trail, I stopped and took a photo at the viewpoint for the fall, which is not a bad setting, though you can only see the upper half of the fall. (It looked cool with the fog today, at least.)

After I finished the trail, I went exploring (as was described in Anthony’s site above) the top of the falls you see in the photo on the right. You drive on a forest road beside the parking lot for Raven Cliff Trail. After making it to the pull-off, it’s a short unmarked but easy-to-follow trail to the top of Dukes Creek Falls. Right above the main fall is a very nice 30 ft fan with a great pool in front of it, seen below. Across the impressive open valley also you see Dukes Creek itself cascading down 200 ft to meet up with Davis Creek, more impressive than you can tell from the other side.

I definitely need to go back in spring (or autumn) to try to capture this open area’s beauty on top of the falls. I know that there are falls also on Davis Creek further above Dukes Creek Falls, but given I needed to get home, they will wait until next time visiting there. Definitely an enjoyable day, really getting me enjoying winter waterfalling!

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Ruffs Grist Mill Ruin

Ruffs Grist Mill Ruin

Who knew? Well, I do now 🙂  I knew about some old mill ruins just off of the Silver Comet Trail in the Vinning/Smyrna area and decided to take Sally (my dog) down for a hike to see them. I had been once before but didn’t bring my camera so this was my first chance to photographically record them. As I began to explore the area I headed up a trail going away from the ruins and up the creek that the mill sits next to (Nickajack Creek for those who need to know). As I hiked along the trail started climbing away from the creek, which was somewhat unexpected, and I started to hear what sounded like  waterfall… Hmmm!!! What could this be?

Well, as I rounded the bend staring right at me was a small waterfall/cascade I knew nothing about. As I approached I realized that there wasn’t a trial that led you down so I had to scramble down a fairly steep bank to check this guy out first hand. Just to cover the basics… The waterfall is roughly about 5 feet in height (yeah, thats impressive), but yet it covers the whole length of the creek (about 30 to 40 feet across).

What I found even more interesting was the setting of the falls themselves and it is very apparent that these falls where probably much larger at some point years ago as the rock formation just to the sides are much higher and would have made for probably closer to a 8 to 10 foot high waterfall spanning across that 30 to 40 feet. but then, I could be completely wrong as I’m certainly no geologist.

Ruffs Mill Cascade Falls

Ruffs Mill Cascade Falls

Also what is interesting about this small waterfall is the history of this area and the adjacency of Ruffs Mill to the Covered Bridge district on Concord Road. If you want to learn a little more about the history check this out

One other note, as I was finding links related to Nickajack Creek… apparently there are cascades and/or rapids enough to be called class II & III’s along a 4 mile stretch of the creek. I found this slightly surprising, but then, Sweetwater Creek, which isn’t that far off, has some pretty intense rapids itself… further investigation is needed I think 🙂

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Georgia Ice Since I was going to take a trip from Georgia up to Ohio for family events, I thought I’d stop by in North Carolina, and hit some waterfalls along the way. I hoped to see maybe some winter ice on the falls, like I saw ice along the road in north Georgia (on the right here)–I actually came across some friends who were driving on the road as I went down to take photos of this ice. I took off with Adams’ trusty guide of NC waterfalls, and had an idea of many possible to visit, depending how weather went (mostly visiting easily accessible falls due to the ice & snow). Though there was some snow around, I sadly only captured a little bit of ice on any of the falls, though I ended up visiting 4 falls, and enjoyed the day overall.

The first fall I visited was Mud Creek Falls in north Georgia, almost into North Carolina. In fact, so close that the road to the falls actually starts in North Carolina. Mud Creek Falls You drive through the Sky Valley Community, to the back of the community, down a dead-end road, and park just feet from the falls. It’s an impressive fall to see in person, and I don’t think I captured here how impressive it is, though I tried here to show the area around the falls. I had the falls mostly to myself, and carefully jumped across the creek on rocks, watching the ice, since I didn’t want to take a cold creek bath; luckily, I was able to remain dry. I may enjoy creek wading, but not this time of year…

I drove through Highlands, NC–it looking great covered in snow–and on to Cashiers. From Cashiers, I drove down to Silver Run Falls, which is on NC-107 5 miles south of Cashiers, just off the road. Silver Run Falls It’s a nice fall that I had visited years ago, before I was really into photography, so it was good to revisit. It has a great pool below it, and I managed to get a few shots, despite the sun now appearing and causing me significant problems. But it tucked under clouds for a few minutes, long enough for a couple shots. There is an Upper Silver Run Falls, but given the sun problems, I decided not to climb to it that day. I need to come back with better waterfalling weather. 🙂

I next thought about stopping by other falls, but because of constant sun, gave up on those falls, and visited Gorges State Park, which was shrouded in fog. I thought about visiting the impressive Horsepasture River, but wanted to hit some other falls I hadn’t seen before the day was done. Looking Glass Falls I went to Brevard, and up into the Pisgah National Forest. First stop was Looking Glass Falls, which is right beside the road, and therefore had plenty of people visiting it, even in winter. It’s a very impressive fall, was really roaring in winter–though photographically, compositions are limited some by where you are allowed to go because of railings, and there were quite a few people there.

Moore Cove Falls Lastly, I went up the road another 1/2 mile, and took the 6/10 mile trail to Moore Cove Falls. It was a muddy & icy trail, but not too problematic to travel on. By happenstance, I actually came across a nice father and son pair of photographers (father lives in the area) on the trail and shooting the fall at the same time, who I also saw at Looking Glass Falls. Moore Cove Falls is (as expected) in a nice cove, with the water pouring into the center. It’s a lower flow fall, but with plenty this time of year, and around 50 ft tall. By the time I slid my way back to the car, it was getting dark, so the day was done–but at least it was good to get a day of waterfalling in while I was traveling anyway. I can’t wait for waterfall season to begin in earnest, and I’m sure there will be more winter waterfalling soon!

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