Waterfalls frozen in time
It isn’t often that temperatures dip below freezing for more than a week in East Tennessee. And although there wasn’t any snow to go with this recent cold snap, there were some pretty amazing sights. After seeing dozens of pictures (and videos) of other people’s visits to see frozen waterfalls, I just had to get out of the house, brave the frigid temperatures and seek out as many of these winter wonders as I could in a limited amount of time. What I discovered was unforgettable and I just had to share the experience to hopefully inspire you to get out and see them the next time Old Man Winter tightens his grip on the region.
Fr”Ozone” Falls – Cumberland County, TN
Approaching this small state natural area many of the rocky outcroppings are draped in thick layers of bright white icicles, a little preview of what lied ahead on the trail down to the base of the falls. This 110 foot high waterfall is amazing enough in the summer, but after this sub freezing weather it’s downright spectacular. At the top of the falls, a curtain of ice is pulled away enough to allow a small volume of water fall into the small opening in the frozen pool at the bottom. Much of the creek bed downstream is also covered in ice allowing you to more or less walk on top of the creek.
Fall Creek Falls – Van Buren County, TN
The winter version of what is probably the most visited waterfall in the state doesn’t disappoint, even when you only see it from the overlook. As the water streams down it creates an icy glaze on the reddish colored rocks at the top as well as a wide a wide swath of icicles stretching several feet down the rocky ledge. At the bottom of the falls, layers upon layers of ice are piling up with only a small hole allowing the water from the falls to continue flowing downstream.
Piney Creek Falls
A few hundred yards down a rocky path leads you from the parking lot to a small overlook perched high above a deep ravine. In the distance you catch a glimpse of Piney Creek Falls, a sometimes overlooked natural wonder within Fall Creek Falls State Park. The deep freeze has slowed the rush of the water, but you can still hear it as it pounds on the rocks nearly 100 feet below. Unfortunately, the top of the overlook is as close as you can get to Piney Creek Falls as the space between you and the falls is too steep and rocky to easily navigate.
Cane Creek Cascades/Cane Creek Falls
On my recent trip to Fall Creek Falls, we saved seeing Cane Creek Cascades until last and it was certainly worth the wait. The patch along the creek bed provided plenty to look at as the rocks, ice and a small amount of flowing water created an ever changing palatte of colors. At the top of the waterfall, the path continues on a series of stairs which eventually take you down to a bed of solid rock where you can easily walk up to the base of the waterfall where the blueish hue of the thick coating of ice turns this rather ordinary waterfall into something extraordinary. For a unique view, you can walk out onto the swinging bridge suspended above the top of the falls, or you can just marvel at the icy creation from the base. A few hundred yards downstream, the water takes another plunge as it creates Cane Creek Falls. I didn’t make it down the trail to see it on this trip, but pictures and video posted on several social media channels made me wish I had gotten to the park earlier so I would have had time to see it too.