Back to Upper Dick Creek Falls – 3-10-2012

Bol’Dar and myself recently discovered the well hidden location of the Upper Dick Creek Falls only a week ago, but once my waterfall crazy friend Dave Aldridge found out about it, he and Lou just had to go back. I say ‘go back’ because they had went just a few days after we found them and even with some detailed directions from me and a GPS coordinate/Garmin, they were still unable to find the falls. This should give you some idea of just how hard these falls are to find. When I heard their mission had failed, I agreed to take them there the following weekend. Even though we had just been there the previous weekend, I was all to happy to go back as it is an awesome place and an incredible looking set of waterfalls. Unfortunately Bol’Dar could not go along on this trip which is too bad because we chose to go in the easy way from the Limestone Cove side and we ended up finding another route to the upper falls. The first major obstacle would be to get across the high water of North Indian Creek. It was flowing way too fast and much too deep for wading across it and would take a very high clearance vehicle with really big tires to drive across it although it is easily passable when the water levels are lower like in Summer time. This problem was solved easily by parking just down the road a ways at a large pull off where a concrete bridge crosses the creek to a large field. This is private property and we did try to find its owners to get permission but it seems a bottled water company now owns it but was unable to start a company there but there is a new bathroom built towards the end of the property with water and power so I am not sure what the future holds for it but it seemed ok to access the Dick Creek area by crossing it and entering into the woods on the left side where you have to cross Dick Creek to get to the forest road that comes in from Limestone Cove road.

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

That is pretty easy to do and once accomplished the road walk is more or less level and easy hiking. There are only a few large mud holes to negotiate around but those are quickly and easily bypassed by going through the trees on either side. These do dry up in the summer months and become even easier to get around. The road is never gated to my knowledge and one can take a high clearance vehicle here if you have one you do not care much about. I used to drive my old `71 Chevy 2WD pickup to the campsite beyond the Lower Dick Creek Falls all the time some 20+ years ago. It was a beautiful, warm and sunny day and the hike up the Dick Creek Valley was really nice. It did not take long at all to reach the intersection where you have to bear left to go towards the waterfalls. (MUCH shorter and easier than climbing the steep hill from Rock Creek park) After that it is a short straightaway to get to the Lower Dick Creek Falls where we only stopped for a short time since once again the main goal was to reach the Upper Dick Creek Falls so we would stop back there on our way out.

Reflection of trees and blue sky

Reflection of trees and blue sky in one of the many mud holes along the old road

We proceeded on the creek trail over to the large campsite beside the grassy field and then on to where the road crosses the creek to find the hidden ninja trail we had discovered on the first trip to the Upper Falls. Following that trail I nearly passed the place where you have to cross the creek to find the start of the left ridge and had to once again backtrack to find it which shows how easy it was for us to miss it the first time. Once I found it we made our way through the short laurel patch, and climbed up the short rise to get on the left ridge, it was smooth sailing as before all the way to the upper falls. In a short amount of time we had covered the less than half mile to the large rocks that mark the turn off to the falls. I led the way down the nifty ninja trail to the falls and watched as Dave and Lou (and myself) were in waterfall heaven.

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

 

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls (Photo by Dave Aldridge)

Like a kid at a carnival with a pocket full of coupons, Dave set up his tripod and began taking photo`s of the falls despite the bright sunlight as we made our way across the base of the falls to the huge rock slabs on the other side. Getting the best pics of the falls and surrounding springs that form small falls on the right side, we spent a lot of time there before I climbed up the tricky right side so they could get a shot of me on top of the falls. I also wanted to get a shot of them standing on the large rock slabs to show just how large they really are. Once this was done, Dave and Lou went back the way we had come, climbing back up the left side in order to safely reach the top of the falls.

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

Upper Dick Creek Falls

It is just as awesome up there due to the small falls and cascades that drain in to the golden pool just before going over the edge of the falls. We took some more time there taking various photo`s of that and the ‘corkscrew‘ before eating our lunches on the large flat rock on the top left side (right side if you are standing on top looking off them)  of the falls.

Small falls and golden pool

Small falls and golden pool just above the top of the Upper Dick Creek Falls

The 'corkscrew'

The 'corkscrew' part of the Upper Dick Creek Falls as seen from above

huge fallen rock slabs

Dave and Lou on the huge fallen rock slabs at the base of the Upper Dick Creek Falls

Eventually it came time to leave which is always hard to do from a place as nice as this but, we wanted to have time to get back out and stop at the lower falls before it got too dark. This is where it got very interesting because while Dave and Lou was photographing the falls from the bottom, when I climbed up the right side, I had done some exploring of the area there which I did not take time to do on our first trip the week before. I went down the right side to see if there was an easier way to climb up around the steep rock sides on the right side of the falls. I had not gone out of sight of the falls when I found a really good trail on an old log road grade complete with pink flagging. It appeared that it had seen some traffic in recent years so after telling Dave and Lou of my discovery they informed me that when they were there a few days earlier trying to find the falls and aborted their mission from the laurel hells of creek level, that they had climbed up the steep hill to this trail they had seen from below. I am not sure why they did not follow it to the falls but they did follow it out of the valley and advised me that it would come out back near where we started. I was all for going that way and that is exactly what we did.

Small springs

Small springs flowing off the right side rock wall of the Upper Dick Creek Falls

colorful rocks where the small springs flow

colorful rocks where the small springs flow off the ride side of the Upper Dick Creek Falls

Larger of the small springs

Larger of the small springs that flow off the right side rock walls of the Upper Dick Creek Falls

We followed the newly found trail out the right side and it was a very nice trail on what used to be an old logging road. I am sure it continues beyond the top of the falls and I will explore that one day to see if any more falls or nice cascades exist in that hollow which eventually leads to near the summit of Unaka Mount near the Pleasant Gardens area on top. I got a nice view of that area from the log road on our way out. There was a well traveled trail after a ways that led down the steep hill to the valley floor below. I knew from being there last week that it would be a great way (and most likely the best way)  to take back but,  Dave wanted to show me the way they went a few days before and to show me a piece of metal that had some humorous graffiti engraved upon it at a campsite near the end of the valley. I agreed and we followed the old log road although it did end up passing through some overgrown  places where the laurels had taken over but it was not that bad and soon we were at the end of the ridge and round the point where it would gradually taper down to the valley floor slightly up at the head of a large draw. I could remember hunting here when I was a younger lad and knew about where I was. Following the draw out a short ways to the main valley we came into a campsite and sure enough there was the piece of metal that boldly stated something about a one ‘Chris Hopson‘ !!!

New trail

New trail found on right side of falls

View from the new trail

View from the new trail of the summit of Unaka Mtn. near Pleasant Gardens

Continuing out the valley we immediately seen an old road to the right that had high sides which formed a sort of ‘burm’ which intrigued me. It looked very familiar.  I followed it to see why it was there and it led me right out to the large opening/campsite at the end of the road across the creek where we had started ! What a find ! I can not wait to show this to Bol’Dar ! This is definitely an excellent way to get to the upper falls although still very hidden and very hard to find if you are not familiar with the route. I will most likely continue to go up the left side and come back the right to make a loop as they are both very awesome places to see and would give you the big picture. We rested there and talked about our awesome adventure before heading back across the creek and down the road to the grassy field where we would take the creek trail over to the lower falls to try and get some good late afternoon pics of them.

Old road

Old road that led us back to the starting point

The light was still a lot brighter than it was the week before and getting any really good shots was just not possible. I did show Dave and Lou the small falls that are located back in a hidden area just above the Lower Dick Creek Falls as they did not know they were there.

Small falls

Small falls located just above the top of the Lower Dick Creek Falls

small falls

Small falls just above the top of the Lower Dick Creek Falls

small falls

Small falls just above the top of the Lower Dick Creek Falls

small falls

Small falls just above the top of the Lower Dick Creek Falls

They are very nice so we spent some time there before making our way down to the lower falls which I think are one of the prettiest waterfalls in East Tennessee and definitely my favorite one to photograph. I spent some time to meditate while I was there.

Lower Dick Creek Falls

Lower Dick Creek Falls

Lower Dick Creek Falls

Lower Dick Creek Falls

Lower Dick Creek Falls

Lower Dick Creek Falls

Lower Dick Creek Falls

Lower Dick Creek Falls

Lower Dick Creek Falls

Lower Dick Creek Falls

After getting what pics we could there it was getting late afternoon so we packed it in and headed back down the road through the Dick Creek Valley, back by the mud holes and small creeks until we reached the end of the road where we had to find a way through the woods and back across the creek to reach the new stone bathroom at the end of the grassy field on the private property so that we could get back to the concrete bridge where we could cross the North Indian Creek to our vehicle. We got back long before dark and a few minutes later we were drinking ice cold sweet tea at the ‘Friends’ restaurant in Unicoi discussing what an awesome adventure it had been. I know I will be going back to the Upper Dick Creek Falls again soon to show Bol’Dar the new found trails but we do have a few other new adventures on ‘the list’ that we will try and do first. Until next time,,,,

Lower Dick Creek Falls (Photo by Dave Aldridge)

For more pics of these and other falls, please visit our Photo Gallery here.

Posted on 25 April '12 by , under RATtreks.

2 Comments to “Back to Upper Dick Creek Falls – 3-10-2012”

#1 Posted by bwiley53 (27.09.13 at 13:51 )

I’ve just recently found your blog, and appreciate your waterfall write-ups!

Do you have the GPS coordinates for these upper falls?

I’d like to try and find them, and you’ve given a good understanding of how hard they are to find. Hopefully, with your pics, description, and GPS coordinates, I can find this beauty as well.

Thanks!

#2 Posted by admin (13.10.13 at 22:50 )

Thanks !

You can find the GPS coordinates on TN Landforms website.

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