As you may have noticed, last weekend was a beautiful one in the Tennessee Valley. We had blue skies, temperatures in the 80s, and not much humidity. Perfect spring hiking weather! Despite all that, we didn’t get a hike in at all last weekend. Instead, we drove down to Monroeville, AL to watch their iconic production of To Kill A Mockingbird. This play, an adaptation by Christopher Sergel of Harper Lee’s cherished Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, has been put on in Harper Lee’s hometown by a local group of amateur actors since 1991. You can’t beat the setting – the Monroe County Courthouse is where Harper Lee’s father, the inspiration for Atticus, practiced law. We even were among a small number of audience members that got to sit on the stage during the courtroom scenes. It was like we were a part of the action!
We enjoyed the performance very much, but it did leave me with no hike to tell you about this week. However, I did launch a new menu page over the weekend – a Waterfalls page. Similar to our Trail Listing page, this page will list the waterfalls we’ve visited, a link to the blog where we talk about it, and a rough idea of how far away it is. In honor of our new page, I now give you my top five waterfalls from the last year or so. These are not in any particular order – it was hard enough to narrow it down to five, much less rank them!
Sougahoagdee Falls, Bankhead Forest, Alabama.
This 70 foot fall nestled in a hollow off of Brushy Creek in the Bankhead Forest is a beauty. Bluffs rise from the creek to form a natural bowl with the falls spilling over from above at one end. Ferns and lush greenery make it feel a little like some kind of hidden Shangri-La. The trail to get there is an added bonus. Though unmaintained and unmarked, it’s pretty easy to follow, and as an added bonus it takes you past four other smaller waterfalls. That’s a total of five waterfalls in one reasonably easy five mile out and back hike!
East Bee Branch Falls, Sipsey Wilderness, Alabama
This waterfall in my beloved Sipsey Wilderness is described as being either 70 or 90 feet tall. It’s a little difficult to get to – the shortest hike in is about 10 miles round trip and the trail getting down into the canyon is unmarked and difficult to make out – but it’s worth the trip. The canyon itself is beautiful, and boasts East Bee Branch Falls, the “Big Tree” (the largest yellow poplar in Alabama), and a second smaller but equally beautiful waterfall. It’s a popular spot so you’re unlikely to have it all to yourself, but don’t let that stop you!
Savage Falls, South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee
This 30 foot waterfall is just about two hours north of Huntsville, in the South Cumberland State Park. The trail in is an easy 3.2 mile out and back. Just before the falls, the river goes over a lovely set of cascades. The cover photo we use for our blog is a shot of those cascades. After the cascades, a set of stairs leads down to the basin where you can get a great view of Savage Falls dropping into a beautiful plunge pool.
Burgess Falls, Burgess State Park, Tennessee
This is probably the most impressive falls of my picks as far as setting and height. The approach to the falls is along a 1.5 mile out and back trail which, like the trail into Sougahoadee Falls, gives you bonus waterfalls. In this case, you’ll pass a 20 foot cascade, the 30 foot upper falls, and the 80 foot middle falls before coming out on the rim of a canyon with 200 foot sheer walls. Burgess Falls itself drops 136 feet into the gorge. It’s impressive from above, but you can also take a trail and some stairs down to the bottom and view it up close.
Cheaha Falls is not the tallest fall, nor does it drop into a stunning deep gorge or have the greatest volume of water, but I loved it anyway. You approach this fall along an easy 1.87 mile out and back trail which leads through woods. The trail takes you to the top of the falls, then leads down into the little basin filled with tumbled boulders. Cheaha Creek spills 30 feet into the basin to form the falls. Perhaps we were just lucky, but when we were there, we had it to ourselves and I think that maybe added to its quiet charm.
So that’s my top five – what do you think? Are there waterfalls we’ve been to that you like better? Are there any you think we should go visit? Let us know in the comments!