DATE:
1-2-2021

OUT & BACK
~ 2.2 miles

ELEVATION GAIN
~ 951 ft

Flag Pond, TN

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Rocky Fork State Park has been recommended to us many times. The first time we attempted to go, the park was closed due to ice and downed trees. We tried again this weekend and were so excited to check out Rocky Fork’s newest trail, White House Cliffs. Rocky Fork State Park has a Facebook and Instagram page where they update park closures and conditions which is extremely helpful. There are areas that are marked for biking and/or hiking and multiple different trail options.

When you pull into the park, you will follow a short road that has specifically marked areas to park and not to park. You will come to a sign with a gate that points to a designated parking area for the White House Cliffs trail and The Rocky Fork Trail. This takes you to a small parking area that has bathrooms!! (Always a plus!)

(I took the parking lot pics on the way out so that is why it’s empty and dark!)

Even on a January afternoon, this parking area was full and we ended up parking along the road in a marked spot. There are a couple areas near the parking lot where you could sit to eat. There is also a fire pit area with quite a few benches. If you are standing in the parking lot and facing the direction of the road, the Rocky Fork Trail head is to the bottom right and the White House Cliffs trail head is behind you to the left, close to the fire pit area.

The pictures below show an area with info for the park and the trail head for the Rocky Fork trail. I shared these just to clarify that this is not the direction you go for the White House Cliffs trail- we weren’t paying close attention and almost started to go that way.

The trails are well maintained with really nice blazes on the trees. The boys are use to seeing painted trail blazes and they were very impressed with these. They referred to them as “tree badges” and got excited to find each one. You will know you are on the White House Cliffs trail if you are following the white blazes.

The trail is an incline from the very start. You will climb 951 ft of elevation in just over 1 mile so there aren’t very many flat spots. It is a beautiful and manageable trail though. There are a few areas with wood steps, one even has a rail. I highly recommend hiking poles for this trail, especially on the way back down. It was extremely helpful and the boys even grabbed sticks to use as poles on this trail. They have been a life saver in these East TN mountains.

East Tennessee has had a lot of rain and snow recently which caused multiple trees to fall. You can tell that these trails are very well maintained as all of that was cleared from the path.

The trail was covered in leaves most of the way up. When you get to approximately .8 or .9 miles, the trail becomes a little more rocky but still not bad to manage. There are lots of rocks that have been turned into steps to make it easier to navigate.

We stopped A LOT on this trail, but overall we felt like the boys did really well. Our 5 year old led most of the way and was the first to the top!

We thought the view at the top was incredible. You have a 360 degree view of the mountains and it was so clear the day we went. One thing to consider, we went in January and the trees were bare so we had an unobstructed view. In the summer, I imagine there would be a little more greenery blocking the mountains. I think the view would still be great though.

There is a small cleared area at the top and we were fortunate to be up there alone so we could spread out and eat lunch. If there were more people around, there is a small cleared area of rocks that you can go to down below the main lookout. The views from this area are gorgeous as well.

Overall, the White House Cliffs trail was a big hit for all of us. Sometimes the boys struggle with such a quick incline, but they loved this one. Later in the evening I asked my oldest son what he thought about our hike and he said, “It was awesome. I want to take my kids there one day…if I have any!” Excuse me while I pick up my heart from the puddle on the floor. This was very out of character for him to say in that way. As much planning and mid hike break-taking and continual encouragement for tired little legs that we put into hiking with kids, moments like this make everything more than worth it. These memories will be burned in my brain until my last breath. I have so much gratitude for these mountains we call home.

Find out more about Rocky Fork State Park at the link below…
https://tnstateparks.com/parks/rocky-fork