ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) — Water lovers, this hike is for you! With four creek crossings, multiple swimming spots, and a beautiful waterfall at the end, the hike to Rock Creek Falls is perfect for anyone who isn’t afraid to get wet.
Located between Erwin and Unicoi in the Rock Creek Recreation Area, this 4-mile hike can be considered moderate as it features a long climb, multiple water crossings, and a rocky, rugged trail. As you begin your hike to the waterfall in the Recreation Area, your final destination will be in the Unaka Mountain Wilderness area, which Leslie Morgan, a district ranger in the Cherokee National Forest, says offers a much more experience. unique.
“A wilderness area is designated by Congress, and that means there’s a segment of land, in this case it’s about 600 acres. So it’s just a lot more primitive, and the experience is meant to be a lot… a lot more lonely. You shouldn’t hear motorcycles or vehicles in the Wild Area. So it’s just to give people a chance to go to really quiet places.
And because the wilderness areas are much more remote, it’s important that you are prepared before you start your hike, and that includes bringing a map.
“In a wilderness area, you have to be prepared to take care of yourself,” Leslie said. “The trails may or may not be marked, but chances are if you’re in a wilderness area there won’t be a lot of markings there and not a lot of markers. “
Also be aware that wilderness areas also have a strict group size limit that visitors must adhere to, but that doesn’t just include humans. Instead, all living creatures are counted towards party size.
“When you enter a Wilderness Area, there’s a limit of 12 heartbeats per group, so if you have a horse or a dog, those count as heartbeats,” says Morgan.
When hiking the trail, be aware of these four stream crossings. When crossing a stream, it is important to go slowly and analyze its course before jumping on the nearest rock. Be sure to keep an eye out for the busiest trails, avoid dark rocks as they are likely to be wet and covered in a thin layer of smooth seaweed, and bring extra socks, just in case those first two tips fail. would prove unsuccessful.
If you fall into it, no worries! Leslie says this cove is a favorite swimming spot in the summer. “It’s a very clean, pristine stream, Rock Creek, because it comes out of the wilderness, so you don’t have the agriculture runoff and the development runoff, which, you know, you would if you were in town or something like that.”
When you finally get to the waterfall, you will be tempted to descend, but be careful if you do.
“You can see going up here that there will be user-created trails down to the bottom of the waterfall,” Leslie said. “These are very dangerous. We’ve had deaths around the waterfalls, we’ve had several head injuries and various broken bones just because people want to get close to the waterfalls and take pictures, and so it is still very dangerous.