Adventures in the Southern Appalachians & Beyond!  






March 15th, 2009 - I figured this was a perfect day for photographing waterfalls with rains all weekend, and the overcast conditions, so I set out for Lower Higgins Creek Falls in the Rocky Fork Tract.  This is one of my favorite wet-weather falls in the region, and I think the best in "Rocky Fork".  I was actually here a few months ago with my daughter (see here), when the stream was just a trickle.  However, today it was putting on a much better display.                     


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Old Bridge at the Beginning of the Hike

  Beautiful Lower Higgins Creek Falls

I'm always surprised when driving up to the road to the trailhead of the number of No Trespassing signs among the private land-owners.  It gives you the feeling that you're not wanted, but I feel more comfortable these days knowing the trail is now public land as part of the Rocky Fork acquisition.  I also noticed today that the trail has undergone some maintenance since my visit a few months ago... blowdowns had been cut and surveying had been done.  Overall, the trail was in great shape.                 

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Up-Close of the Falls    Another Up-Close

It's about a one-mile, easy to moderate hike from the parking area to get to the falls.  Once there however, it is quite a tough descent to get down to the vantage point seen in my photos above.  You have to climb down a slippery and steep embankment, but you should have no trouble if you take your time.   

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Downstream on Higgins Creek   Twisted Vine

I took a lot of photos, and simply enjoyed the view of this grand waterfall.  After climbing back out of the ravine, I hiked back down the mountain and photographed some more of the stream (seen in the photos below).  When I got back to the car I realized I had quite a bit of daylight left, so I drove on up to Big Creek Falls on Highway 19E (click here to see that trail log).    

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Cascades   More...
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And More...

Lower Higgins Creek Falls is a very nice waterfall with a short hike.  At the time of this report, I have it rated with 31 points on my scale, which is ranked 6th highest of the 23 waterfalls I've visited so far in the eastern Tennessee region.  


Total Miles Hiked:  2.0 


Getting There :  


Driving - From Johnson City, take I-26 toward Erwin, and go on past Erwin to exit #43  (Temple Hill).  Turn left at the stop sign at the bottom of the exit (your only option).  At the next stop sign turn right onto 19W (19/23).  After .75 mile, turn right onto Lower Higgins Creek Road.  Follow this road for approximately 1.5 miles until it dead-ends.  Park in the wide spot on the left.     


Trails - The trailhead will be off to your left (looking upstream) across the old bridge.  Be careful crossing this bridge... it's a little rotten in some places.  Stay on the trail following up the left side of Lower Higgins Creek for approximately one mile to get to the first waterfall (there are 5 more smaller ones on upstream).  You'll have to climb down a steep embankment to get to the base of the falls.  There's a faint trail to follow down, but it is steep and slippery.    


Hike Rating -


Bill's Overall Rating:

Distance:  2.0 miles

Difficulty:  MODERATE

Type: OUT & BACK

Vista Rating: 

Waterfall Rating:  H(9) + F(5) + V(3) + W(3)  + G(2+4+5) = 31

Water Crossings:  2-EASY

Scrambling/Climbing:  MODERATE (if you climb down the ravine to the falls)

Hazards:  one short open bridge, slippery slopes, steep slope

Significance:  waterfall

Recommendation:  average


Click here for hike rating reference guide.



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