Red Fork Falls 1-28-2010

Thanks again to some much needed warmer temps, another trip to some magnificent waterfalls was possible. This time due to time constraints (another late start) we went to Red Fork falls which is fairly close by in the Unaka Mountain area and is not that far of a hike to get to. I have not been there in at least 20 years and before that was my first time on New Years of 1966. It was freezing and slick then as I recall my dad falling in the creek while carrying me nearly going over the top of the falls, and this time was no different which made climbing down the falls very treacherous.

Red Fork Falls

Red Fork Falls

After parking at the trail-head on Red Fork Road (also known as Unaka Mountain Road) located 7.8 miles up Limestone Cove Road from Unicoi, it is a mere half mile to the falls (marked with a red dot) but don’t let that fool you because if you do risk climbing down the falls to the lower falls below, you will feel like you have hiked much farther the next day ! It is a matter of holding on to laurels, rocks and stumps as you carefully make your way down and I must advise that many people have been seriously injured here so please use extreme caution especially when it is frozen and slick like it is now.

After going a short distance you will cross the creek two times, then a short distance farther you will come to a nice set of cascades which lead right to the top of the falls where your steep descent will begin. Again I must stress to be very careful here and wear the right clothing and sturdy foot ware with ankle support. The main falls is said to be only 60 feet high but I swear it seems like 100 !

Red Fork Falls

Red Fork Falls

There is actually a number of falls that make up Red Fork falls, as many as 8 perhaps, as it continues to fall and corkscrew through the canyon-like ravine. The best photo I have  seen of this was taken by Mark Peacock and can be found here. There are several places along the route to stop and view the various levels and angles these falls have to offer.

Red Fork Falls top

Red Fork Falls

On this day, despite the ice everywhere, the water levels are very high so the wind off the falls are tremendous and the loud roar requires shouting to communicate. The spray was freezing on one side of trees and rocks which made for some interesting photos.

Ice in front of falls

Ice in front of Red Fork falls

A short ways down the upper and main part of the falls is a ‘rooster-tail‘ where the water kicks way out making for some fantastic water effects. I had to change batteries in the camera right about there which is when my favorite water bottle decided it wanted to leap off my pack and tumble down into the depths of the deep pool at the bottom never to be seen again. It was a slow and tedious process to get down to the bottom of the main falls but worth every minute of it. It was basically too cold and slick to even think about setting up the tripod, so we took what pics we could and moved on down to the lower sets of falls.

Red Fork falls

Red Fork Falls

At the bottom there are more smaller falls that keep stair stepping down which would be left for a return trip during a warmer time of year. We stopped where the small tributary creek joins the main stream near the bottom, and after taking some pics began the slow and arduous climb back to the top. It was actually somewhat easier going up than it was going down only more strenuous, but still the danger factor was just as high.

Red Fork Falls lower

Red Fork Falls lower

Red Fork falls lower

Red Fork Falls lower

We finally made it back to the top and was happy to be out of the cold winds and freezing spray where we took one last look from the top before taking a break and reflecting¬† on our adventure. After that it was a short hike back across the creek to the vehicle. I can’t wait to get back here again sometime and I am guessing it will be soon since my son Tyler was in school and missed out on this one. Check out the rest of the pics of this trip in the gallery.

RAT

Posted on 3 February '10 by , under RATtreks.

3 Comments to “Red Fork Falls 1-28-2010”

#1 Posted by melb1970 (13.02.10 at 17:07 )

Visited these falls on Jan 11th, 2010. Got some amazing pics- well worth the effort to get there.
Must have been a foot of snow in there. The falls were frozen almost solid . My partner tried to get to the bottom but we had a hard time distinguishing frozen creek covered with snow from land. He found the water first-lol.
I can only stress the importance of being careful down this stretch of “trail” .

#2 Posted by admin (13.02.10 at 21:00 )

Thanks for commenting. We would love to see your pics !

RAT

#3 Posted by melb1970 (14.02.10 at 12:22 )

My visit to the great Frozen Red Fok documented below:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=188155&id=742375708&l=adefc7880f

Enjoy- nonting like eating abowl of chken noodle soup hot of the pocket rocket rigt here!
Mel

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