Saturday, February 9, 2013
Virgin Falls - Jenny
The Murfreesboro Chapter of TTA facilitated a splendid hike Saturday February 9 to Virgin Falls near DeRossett Tennessee in White County. Part of the Tennessee State Natural Areas Programs, Virgin Falls on the Cumberland Plateau is only one of the scenic gems within the network of hiking trails around the Caney Fork that the Bowater Southern Paper Corporation bought and preserved under Tennessee's Natural Areas Preservation Act in 1971.
Co-led by Ann Campbell Jacobs and Jenny Jacobs, the hike distanced 8 miles with an elevation rise of 860 feet. Rated difficult due to this elevation, but also rocky and sometime boulder-strewn trails, the hike was nonetheless beautiful as the weather presented a crystalline sky and mild temperatures.
The party of seven, soon to be nine, set off on relatively sedate woodland terrain, crossing several flooded mini creeks, first transversing the Big Branch Creek by cable. Lots of winter rain had the creeks and the mighty Caney Fork River gushing wildly, allowing lucky hikers to witness a very powerful waterfall on several of the stops.
Two and a half miles in, hikers descended to Big Laurel Falls where the Big Laurel Creek cascades over a beautiful cave entrance(minus a cave)....a glorious amphitheater of multicolored rocks. Here, the creek flows backwards under the rock and underground only to pop up later on during the hike.
Hikers continued to descend the gorge to Sheep Cave where the Little Laurel Creek splashes down and again underground. At one point, hikers thought they heard coyotes or wild turkeys at a short distance only to discover they were large noisy flocks of sand hill cranes migrating high overhead, a rare and magical sight(thank you Shirlene Spicer....TTA member at large for the identification!).
Finally, hikers reached the main attraction, Virgin Falls itself, in a state of vigorous flow and thrust.Taking a small trail to the top of the falls, a small pool goes underground and back up and over amongst all varieties of rock and boulder.
After a refreshing lunch break and meeting up with some Cumberland Plateau hikers, the Murfreesboro crew headed back ascending gradually up out of the Caney Fork gorge. The four miles back is sometimes challenging, but also, much solace is found in the variety of awe inspiring scenery. The leafless winter trees allow the eye to travel far across distant mountain tops and the brisk air of February cleanses and brightens the senses....
The little over 8 mile hike took approximately six hours, and we finished it up with a delicious supper at the DeRossett Diner where a precious nine year old helped wait on us hand and foot with the charm and focus of a professional. A sweet end to a sweet hike.