The Falls Segment
East to West (ft)
West to East (ft)
|GPX File (Right click, save as)||AllTrails Link|
|The Falls||Full Section||6.7||1,650||740||Link||Page|
|Piney River to Base of Stinging Fork Falls||5.5||1275||774||Link||Page|
|Stinging Fork Falls||1.2||385||35||Link||Page|
Stinging Fork Falls: Piney River to Stinging Fork Falls Trailhead
- Stars: ★ ★ ☆
Piney River to Base of Stinging Fork Falls
- Stars: ★ ★ ☆
- Access: The parking along the Piney River is plentiful as there is a dayuse area there, plus the Cumberland Trail going off the opposite direction for the Piney River segment. When you park, walk 100 yards on the road, crossing the bridge over Piney River and look to your right for the gated dirt road. This is private property for 1.5 miles to where the trail obviously forks to the left. (Location: 35.71423, -84.88028).
- Description: The first 1.5 miles is on a dirt road that is private property that has been granted an easement for hikers. Hiking along Soak Creek, there are many nice swim spots after the first mile. After a nice big wall, the trail departs the dirt road, obviously climbing up to the left. This first climb seems a bit undeeded as you work to crest the ridge above you but no view is afforded before you drop right back down to the creek. More swim holes welcome you as you work upriver before joining an old road bed which is well marked. Eventually, you bend sharply left and begin climbing again, and again it is a lot of work for not a lot of reward. You cross a major stream and drop back down to river level crossing another major stream. Now you are hiking up Little Soak Creek also known as Stinging Fork. You stay at river level from here on, enjoying nice views of the creeks rapids and falls. At mile 5.5 you will get to the spur that goes to the actual base of the falls. Go right to the base, left to the Stinging Fork trailhead (see the next description), or back the 5.5 miles back to your car. For me, the nicest part of the hike would be doing just 1 mile up Soak and swimming, and the very end as you approached the falls, which would be much easier from the other trailhead. So I just can't rate this section highlt.
Stinging Fork Falls
- Stars: ★ ★ ★
- Access: On top of Waldens Ridge there is ample parking at the trailhead which as of 2020 is sadly directly next to a well marked "State Natural Area" which has been clear cut. But alas, that is where the easy to find trailhead is. (Location: 35.71262, -84.92856).
- Description: It is most common that this section is done as an out and back to see the falls as it is a short, though demanding hike, that is more accesible than hiking the entire Piney River to Stinging Fork full section. From the trailhead, after crossing the edge of the clearcut to the edge of the canyon, you begin to descend steeply, sometimes using wood stair steps. The hike is short at just 1.2 miles one-way, but in the last 0.6 miles you drop nearly 400' of elevation. Which isn't a problem going down, but gets the heart going coming back up. The Falls is the main thing on this trail. When you get to the river level, turn left to do the short spur to the base of the falls. The trail there is really rocky so take care. Turning right instead, leads you downriver towards Piney River. Even if you don't intend to hike all the way to the Piney River, hiking the first 0.5 miles downriver will present you with several pleasant river canyon views.
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- Stars: ★ ★ ☆
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