DATE:
9-12-2020

OUT & BACK
~ 5 mile

ELEVATION GAIN
~ 1,154 ft

LOCATION
Erwin, TN

The pay-off at the end is beautiful, but I have to say that Rock Creek Falls trail will probably be one we save to do again when the boys are a little older. The falls were gorgeous and it was a beautiful hike along a creek, but the terrain was pretty rough with a sustained incline at the end. The combination of these two aspects created quite a challenge for the boys. They toughed it out though and splashed their hearts out at the falls! 

This trail is at a campsite so when you pull in you will pass a donation box that asks for a $2 donation on an honors system. You will pass one parking lot and follow the road to a second parking area that is next to bathrooms and this sign:

The trail head is just past this building on the left.

After about 1/2 mile, you will reach a second entrance to the trail from the campsites which has the trail info board.

There are a couple of bridges along the way but those are for a bike trail, not the falls. At the beginning, there were also green trail blazes, but we are pretty sure those were just for the bike trail as they did not continue up to the falls. There is a sign that clearly points the way to the falls when the bike trail splits off.

The first mile or so of the trail was on even ground with beautiful trees, lots of rhododendrons (not in bloom when we went), and rock formations that caught the boys’ attention right away.

Shortly before the first creek crossing, the trail becomes pretty rocky with lots of roots and stays pretty rocky until you reach the falls, (hence the name!) ;) I wore my Keen Solr Sandals (water/hiking shoes) for the whole hike and I wouldn’t recommend that. Since most of the terrain is quite rocky, I would recommend wearing your regular hiking shoes and bringing a pair of water shoes along to change as you need/want to. Darrell changed into his water shoes as needed and that worked really well for him. The boys did fine in their Keen sandals the whole way. There was not a lot of rain in the days leading up to our trip so the creek crossings had plenty of stones to step on without submerging your feet.

For approximately the last mile, the trail becomes a very steady and steep incline to the falls. We had a lot of rest breaks and pep talks for the home stretch! Before you get to the main falls, there is a smaller waterfall with a steep climb down to the base of it. It was a little muddy so we had to be careful and use lots of roots and tree limbs to help us get up and down without sliding.

We did play at this fall for a little while and there was a perfect size ledge in the falls for all 3 boys to sit on that they loved!

A little bit further along the trail is the main waterfall and it is definitely worth the climb!

The trail actually ends when you get to the main waterfall so you will know you are there. We ended up having the whole area to ourselves for about an hour which was wonderful! We enjoyed lunch and let the boys have a blast in the water.

On our way back out we had our first surprise rainfall (downpour!!) which two out of our three boys loved. The littlest one was terrified being out there in the rain. It was a quickly passing summer rain and only lasted for ~1/2 mile.

It was a gorgeous hike and would be a great one for adults or teenagers/pre-teens. However, the rough terrain combined with the sustained steep uphill at the end will be what puts this in the, “save for later,” category for the boys. I would definitely recommend overall, just caution people with little ones to be ready with lots of encouragement and snacks depending on their stamina!

On a scale of 1-10, in order of age oldest-youngest, the boys rated this one a: 7, 9, and 0- the youngest fell asleep before we pulled out of the parking lot, so I’m pretty sure it was really his tank that was on zero!

Nature finds along the trail:

DISCLAIMER: We use the “Picture This” app to help identify plants we find along the trail combined with our own nature books and study. We are by no means experts and might get it wrong sometimes! Please do not take any of our suggestions as text book or ingest anything based on what we share. Our nature finds are also based on the season in which we did our hike. If you hike the same trail in a different season, you might find totally different plants. If you notice any mistakes in our identification, please feel free to contact us and let us know so we can update it ASAP! Thank you and happy exploring!