I live in a beautiful place. I don’t consider it bragging because I didn’t make it or anything. I just happen to be fortunate enough to get to hang out here, and it suits me well.
“My Territory” makes me Happy!
So I thought I’d share of few of my favorite Happy places with you…
I live near mountains for exploring, rolling foothills for great views, a lovely river that meanders through our mountains, waterfalls to dream by, and some whitewater rivers nearby in which to play.
What I don’t have is a decent camera to capture all this treasure to share it – or any impressive photographic skills, for that matter. Nevertheless, with it being the weekend, I thought I’d take some time to share a few of the wonderful local spaces and places with you where I love to visit.
This is North Chickamauga Creek in early Spring.
There’s some great access to hiking in this area. If you’re serious, you’ll be stripping off your boots and freezing your tootsies to cross the creek at this time of year – just not when the water level is so high it’s re-arranging those boulders (once even taking out the bridge downstream).
In mid-summer, this mountain-fed stream provides great relief for swimmers and some cliff-diving excitement (among other untold activities) up at the Blue Hole.
Chilhowee Recreation Area:
This is Benton Falls in the late fall (as taken with my old camera phone). You find it by following the recreation area’s trailhead located on top of Chilhowee Mountain. Mountain bikers are welcome on the trail that leads to the falls. As you can see from the picture, the base of the falls is easily accessible to hikers with a terrific picnic table-sized rock or two just waiting for lunch to be enjoyed.
Chickamauga Lake has a multitude of recreational opportunities, including boating and skiing, but perhaps is best known for its bass fishing.
We do have a rule in our family, though – it’s called “catch, kiss and release.”
There are several bass in this lake who have been permanently traumatized from this practice.
South Cumberland State Park – Savage Gulf:
So, back to hiking… Here are a few of the fun finds at Savage Gulf (all to include a wet steamy spot on my camera lens):
- Here’s the beginning of the trailhead, where hikers and campers sign in. The sign might clue you in to one potential reason (though, by far, not the most common).
- The old moonshine still area next to the creek. I’m just stopping in here to get a quick drink.
- My friend, Jenny’s pretty psychedelic-colored mushroom find of the day. Let me emphasize that we did not pick this – it was an accidental shoe-disturbance incident. However, I’ve always been taught to either release or eat my catches in the wild.
- Hanging out on one of the swinging bridges on the trail. I feel so Indiana-Jones’-ish.
- A nice view of the falls. (This was taken in early fall, as it was a trickle when the other hike was made in the summer.)
Down the trail from Signal Point is the Overlook to Julia Falls. Early spring or late fall provides the best view of the falls, when the foliage isn’t full and the water levels are sufficient for steady flow.
The Cumberland Trail will go around the bend of the Tennessee River for camping. But for day hikes, there’s always Rainbow Falls beneath (known as Miracle Falls to some).
My apologies that my only recent picture of Rainbow Falls has me in the way, pointing out the falls, in case you were to miss it.
Here’s a less recent one that demonstrates how it looks to get down into the gorge to the falls during a wet spring season:
The Ocoee is a quick trip up the road for a cool afternoon splash down some Class III-IV rapids.
If you’re looking for a calmer experience, try out the Ocoee’s twin, the Hiwassee River. Its rapids are lower class (in a family-welcoming, polite sort of way). My first whitewater experience ever was in a tube going down the Hiwassee. Once I hit Devil’s Shoals, I’ve been happily hooked since. I most enjoy taking my whitewater canoe down, as it’s about the only opportunity for a carnage event to occur on this Class I-II float river.
Or you can head on up US 64/74 until you reach the Nantahala. It’s a fun run that’s continuous with mostly Class IIs until you reach the Class III Nantahala Falls at the end, which is part of the photo op you see here.
Consider this list a Sampler Platter, based on a few pics I happened to recently have on hand. The beautiful exploration experiences in this area seem never-ending.