Archive for May, 2011

Water Levels Update: still has been lots of flow for normal spring (though not extremely high levels).
Spring Greenery Update: Lots of wonderful greenery in the southern Appalachians.

Two weekends ago, I went to a balloon festival in Menlo Georgia, close to the Alabama border. So I decided it was time for a quick trip (1/2 hr) over the border to the Little River Canyon in Alabama. It’s a large canyon (the largest east of the Mississippi) that is managed by the National Park Service. Years ago, when I would drive between Atlanta and Huntsville, I would drive through here, amazed by the beauty here and admire the Little River Falls (even snapping a quick shot of them). So I figured it was time to stop by again at the end of the day, hoping to capture the waterfalls before sunset. I first stopped by the Little River Falls themselves, the most impressive falls of the area, but because of people there, I decided to return right before sunset.

I decided to stop first at a small waterfall I had learned about earlier in the day when exploring on the web. It was supposed to be on a little tributary (Wolf Creek) of the Little River, and was supposed to be rather rain-dependent. Since it rained recently, I gave it a try. It actually is a two step waterfall, known generally on the web as “Gregg’s Two Falls.” It required a short (0.3 mi) hike down along Wolf Creek from the road, following a faint trail (sometimes following my nose than a trail), down to the first step, the upper falls. I was really amazed by this, such a beautiful setting:
Upper Greg's Two Falls
It was really photogenic to me, with the many stair steps, and this time of year, with the greenery and the azaleas and mountain laurel around. Lower Greg's Two Falls After enjoying this for a while, I then descended 0.2 miles to the next step, down to the lower falls. The lower fall is small, but in a very nice bowl of rock, with a rock wall to the right of the photo you see here. It was funny that I had the place to myself, but I suddenly heard what I thought was someone talking while I was there; after searching, I realized it was a mother duck calling to her ducklings to get close since I was there. I also really enjoyed this setting, such a beautiful pool and rock setting, but eventually fought my way back up to the road to continue waterfalling.

Next up was Grace’s High Falls. Grace's High Falls It is likely felt to be the highest fall in Alabama, being a 133 ft seasonal waterfall that pours off the side into the Little River Canyon. You can view it from a viewpoint across the Bear Creek side canyon, from a viewpoint from the state highway that runs along the Little River Canyon (AL 176). Though it is tall, it isn’t very impressive to me, so after getting some shots of it, I took off back to Little River Falls before sunset, since the sun was getting very low in the sky.

The waterfall on the Little River itself is one of Alabama’s best–though really only it’s impressive in spring, when it’s really raging. In summer, it has much less water. Little River Falls It has area where you can climb up to the fall–and though there are signs telling to not jump off the falls, there are no barriers to prevent it, so watch young children. This access is great for people to enjoy the falls–but also makes it very popular, which can be difficult for waterfall photography, to not have people in your shot. But when I came back this day before sunset, I had the place to myself, able to come up with a few different shots I like, showing it off and decent (but not very high) spring water levels. However, as you can see, the colors were starting to shift to the more blue end of the color spectrum, only some of which you can easily correct in photoshop without making it look too strange. I enjoyed just sitting in front of it, eventually deciding it was time to go back, finishing a successful waterfalling day.
Little River Falls Closer


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Water Levels Update: normal spring levels currently, so get out there and enjoy waterfalls!
Spring Greenery Update: Wonderful spring greenery (in Georgia at least).

I took a trip this past weekend going up to Moccasin Feeder 1Moccasin Creek, near Lake Burton and before the creek flows through Moccasin Creek State Park. I thought I’d try to get to the Upper Falls on Moccasin Creek, which eluded us on my first trip here; and though I didn’t make it there again, this time it was because sometimes the journey is more important. On my way to the trail head, at Lake Burton I encountered evidence of the dramatic destruction a F3 tornado did to over 100 houses by the lake, a tornado I hadn’t heard about (obviously the news was then dominated by the more deadly tornadoes the same day in Alabama). After passing by that, amazed, I started the Hemlock Falls Trail, following cascading Moccasin Creek. I’d been along this trail before, but that time the sun made it such that I didn’t get any decent photographs. The trail easily goes to Hemlock Falls in just 1.1 miles, passing 4 other small falls along the creek before it. Most visitors stop there, but the the trail continues up to Upper Falls, though it requires wading the creek to get there.

This time, I waited until late in the afternoon–so the sun would be hidden from view–and I was rewarded with wonderful photography conditions. The first waterfall I encountered was for a small feeder stream into Moccasin Creek, a nice delicate 15 ft fall (see in the photo above). Then shortly after that was the first drop on Moccasin Creek itself, a 10 ft slice through rocks, which I thought was in a really nice setting, and I was here for quite a while taking photos. The spring greenery really jumped out for me this day (as you’ll also see also for the other photos today). Moccasin Creek Falls 1

Only another 0.1 miles up the creek, there was another 10 ft waterfall, but it didn’t look as photogenic to me, Moccasin Creek Falls 3I knew I was losing time, and it required bushwhacking to get to it, so I passed it up this time for greener pastures. That didn’t take very long, since in another 0.1 mi, the next drop occurred, a 10 ft two-step drop that is right before a bridge on the trail crossing to the other side of the creek. Like the first fall, it only required a minimal off-trail scramble to get to it, but I’d only recommend it if you don’t mind risking getting dirty in the mud.

The little falls were coming Moccasin Creek Falls 4quickly now, and again in only another 0.1 mi was the next waterfall, a roaring 20 ft drop. It was actually causing some spray, though I was able to keep my lens dry–and I didn’t slip on the wet rocks, like I did last month at Crow Mountain Creek. I didn’t find this waterfall quite as photogenic, though it was a nice setting, and again the greenery was beautiful around it. However, I did find Moccasin Creek right above this fall really beautiful with many different rock textures and pools: Moccasin Creek

Back on the trail, I was on my way to Hemlock Falls when I thought I heard the sound of a waterfall nearby. Moccasin Feeder 2I followed my ear through an empty campground to a 100+ ft waterfall from a feeder stream. It was pouring down the hillside that created the canyon for Moccasin Creek. This waterfall wasn’t listed in any book I knew of, including a waterfall hiking book that listed the first feeder stream (up top of this page). I’m sure that it is very seasonal–though with the rock base for it, it seems to run somewhat frequently. It was quite striking to see for its height, and it pours immediately into Moccasin Creek, as you can see in the photo.

After this slight detour, I made it finally to Hemlock Falls, which I had to myself (unlike last time with a lot of kids swimming there). I captured photos of it; however, it was getting dark enough that colors where shifting such that I couldn’t get as appealing of a photo as the previous falls (I did what I could with Photoshop to correct colors for the shot below). So even though I had wanted to make it to the Upper Falls, I felt like I saw so many falls this day–and spent so much time photographing them–that it was okay not making it there. Next time I will make it there! But in the meantime, I enjoyed Hemlock Falls, and then journeyed back to the car before sunset.
Hemlock Falls

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