A Life in a Day at Fall Creek Falls
by Megan Kopp
Hear that twang, like
somebody plucking a bass guitar string?
That’s a green frog trying to attract chicks... uh... make that
female green frogs. The noise of the amphibian chorus is almost overwhelming
-- green frogs, bullfrogs, cricket frogs, spring peepers.
Nocturnal wandering in Fall
Creek Falls State Resort Park, Tennessee is full of sound adventure.
We dodged fireflies, admired grazing deer and crossed fingers we
wouldn’t stumble over any skunks. But
don’t worry if you’re not into the night, this park has something to
Our day began with a just
under 2 hour drive northwest of Chattanooga towards the Cumberland Plateau
and home of the highest waterfall east of the Rockies -- Fall Creek Falls at
256 ft. Established in the mid-1930’s, the park became a refuge for
city-dwellers from then-polluted industrial meccas.
Clean air, plenty out
outdoor activity and 20,000 acres of wilderness to hike, camp and picnic in
was the answer. The early
1970’s brought a flood of construction and the resort complex added
accommodation and activity options that made it truly a park “for all
Passing the lush greens of
the championship 18-hole, par 72 golf course, we drove to one of the dozen
picnic areas scattered throughout the park and munched happily on boxed
lunches beneath oak and hickory trees.
A short stroll took us to
the viewpoint for Fall Creek Falls and our first glance of the Cane Creek
Gorge. While the bulk of the visitor facilities are located on the
plateau, the gorge and its environs offer a refugio for 10 different
federally endangered species of plants and animals, including the Indiana
Taking the one-way Scenic
Loop Drive, we stopped at Millikan’s Overlook for a panoramic view of
Piney and Cane Creek Gulf. For
those who get weak-kneed at the thought of heights, a word of warning, the
cliff here run about 1100 ft. from the top of the bluff to the bottom of the
gulf. According to one source,
it was here that Dr. Glenn A. Millikan, a scientist studying the bluffs and
the animals which inhabit them, fell to his death while rock-climbing.
|By early afternoon we left
the van behind and climbed aboard our mounts for an hour-long horseback ride
through the shady forest surrounding the Fall Creek Falls’ Stable.
Our guide Reid kept us entertained as he sang a raunchy Chris LeDoux
song and regaled us with life as a kayak-loving cowpoke heading into
Back in the van again we
toured the Village Green complex, complete with its Olympic-sized pool,
recreation center, amphitheater, snack bar (the ice-cream cones come highly
recommended), tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, baseball fields,
laundry, general store and Outdoor Center.
The Outdoor Center rents
bikes, tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, child carriers, binoculars and more. With 3 miles of paved bicycle paths, 30 miles of mountain
bike trails, almost a dozen dayhikes and several overnight backpacking
destinations to explore, it was a beehive of activity.
Campers were also enjoying mild spring temperatures as we walked
through one loop of the nearby 227-site campground.
||Climbing down the wooden
steps from the Cascades Nature Center, we watched enviously as families
cavorted in the surprisingly warm water of the Cane Creek Cascades.
Not to be outdone, we quickly donned swimsuits and continued to slide
down rocky slides into the large pool below the suspension bridge until the
sun disappeared behind the treetops. “Aw...do
we have to go now?”
Having worked up quite an
appetite, with stomachs growling, we joined other hotel guests for the
“southern-style” buffet dinner at the Fall Creek Falls Inn and
Restaurant, overlooking Fall Creek Lake.
The breaded catfish was a catch worth keeping!
As the night deepened, we
put on walking shoes once more and ventured out into the black abyss, lured
on by the call of the wild in the midst of a resort.
Spring peepers, no way I’m going to sleep...er...maybe tomorrow
I’ll take time to rest. There’s
just too much to do!
If You Go:
From Chattanooga, take I-24
northeast toward Dayton. Turn off and follow Highway 111 north to the park
entrance on the right.
For further information
contact the park at:
Route 3 Box 300
Pikeville, TN 37367-9803
Or visit the Tennessee
State Park Website at:
# # #
Megan Kopp is a freelance writer published in a variety of markets including
Reader’s Digest, Canadian Living, Western People, YES Magazine, Western Parent, Northwest Family and The Traveler’s Journal.
She has traveled extensively throughout Western Canada and the United States;
spent time in the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Guatemala, Costa Rica,
Mexico, and Belize and have recently been re-directing her writing efforts towards sharing my passion for new sights, smells and