Sunday, May 26, 2013

An Old Time Favorite

     Well after many chores this morning, we decided to go for a short hike.  After a short discussion, we decided to go to Rattlesnake Falls.  We have been to this waterfall several times in our years together; so it is like an old friend.  The hike itself isn't too long, 1.5 miles there and back.  The parking for the hike is free.  Free is always good.  The only time it isn't, is when the lot is full.
     When we arrived today, there was a family standing by the trailhead and looking at the info kiosk.  Mom and dad were trying to figure out where to go, because the trail splits and one goes up the mountain, past Benton Falls, and to the campground and the right hand branch goes to Rattlesnake Falls, they asked which one would be better.  We told them that they should go to Rattlesnake since they had smaller children.  They said ok and let us get ahead of them.  We did not tell them about the two creek crossing, but after we passed them, we did not see them again.  After a short climb up from the parking lot the trail splits at this sign, go right along the Scenic Spur Trail and to Rattlesnake Falls.
The first trail sign.  Stay right to go to Rattlesnake Falls.
     After passing this sign, the trail goes into a saddle and then up the ridge.  If you choose, you could go left at the sign and then cut right at an unsigned post and be on the trail.  That way is a little less strenuous but it does not cut off distance.  After climbing to the top, the trail drops again and goes through some timber and comes to another cross trail
The second trail sign.  About a half mile in.
Stay strait here to go to Rattlesnake.  The first water crossing is about a third of a mile from this sign.  It is the worst, in terms of trying to stay dry, if you are that type.  The rocks are clumped together on the parking lot side of the creek, but not really close enough together on the other to keep from getting wet.  There was a downed tree that we walked across today.  I do not know how long it will be there but I was a little worried going across it.  The trail then climbs, levels out, and climbs again but it is not strenuous.  After leveling out the trail begins to drop and there is the second creek crossing.  This one has rocks all across so unless there is a super amount of water flowing, it should be a strait forward crossing.
     After the second crossing, the trail begins to climb again.  Fairly strait up climb.  Then, with the water flowing in the creek below, you hear it.  Walking a little more you can begin to see it through the trees...  A waterfall!  It is a nice waterfall, casting spray and noise down the little valley.  Walking a little further the trail runs into a rock bluff.  Turn right and ease through the slippery rocks and mud and this is the sight.
This is Lower Falls or Rock Creek Falls.  The first waterfall you come to.
This is the way down to Lower Falls.
Go up along the bluff face to go back to Rattlesnake Falls.

After taking a break, turn back up the bluff and walk past the trail and begin scrambling along the bluff face and work your way along the top to reach Rattlesnake Falls.  I am not sure what the waterfall we just left is named.  Some people call it Rock Creek Falls and others just call it the waterfall.  After scrambling up the bluff, follow the worn trails up the creek.  The Forest Service tries to trick you into thinking the bottom falls is what you want to see, but with about .1 mile of bush whacking, you can see Rattlesnake.  All of the hiker made trails end at the creek.  To really see the waterfall, you must rock jump across and up creek.  I meant to take a picture of the rock garden you have I go through, but I was busy carrying the dog and helping the wife...
     After all the work, this is your sight..
Rattlesnake Falls
Rattlesnake Falls. There are rocks to rest on and it is a good place to eat a picnic lunch if you have one.  Also there is a swimming hole if you are so inclined.  I got some water from the falls and put it in the kettle with my new Trangia stove to see how it does in the wild, but lots of people kept coming up and I got tired of shooing dogs and kids away from a warm stove and aborted the test.  Hopefully a kit report will be following at some point. 
     So once you are done at the waterfall, all that is needed is to retrace your steps back to the parking lot.  If you are inclined, the Clemmer Trail runs up to the top of the mountain and past Benton Falls.  The Clemmer Trail is what the Spur Trail branches off of.  We have hiked it before.  It is not bad.  Just give yourself some time.  We ran out of daylight before making it back to the car when we did it.  Round trip is around 9 miles.  If you take the Clear Creek Trail, it goes to Highway 30 by a picnic table or up the mountain to the lower camping area.  I have only hike about 3-3.5 miles of Clear Creek and was not impressed.  But if you are in the area, maybe rafting/kayaking/canoeing the Ocoee River, and want a quick hike then this trail to Rattlesnake Falls is a good choice.

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