We arrived at Rock Creek Recreation Area in the Cherokee National Forest in mountainous eastern Tennessee not knowing just how full the campground would be. It takes no reservations and is fairly small, with only 33 campsites, five of which are doubles that would be overkill for us. And this weekend would likely be THE peak weekend for fall foliage in this part of the country. So we had reason to be a little nervous.
We arrived on a Thursday fairly early in the day, as we had a short drive from Natural Tunnel State Park in southwestern Virginia.
We were in luck. The campground was not even half full! Sites are arranged in three small loops (A, B, C), plus one walk-in primitive tent-only loop. All the non-primitive sites have 30-amp electric service, and there are water spigots scattered around the campground, though not at individual sites. Campground bathrooms have flush toilets, and there is a dump station. Our cost was a reasonable $15/night with Barry’s Senior pass.
There really aren't any bad sites in this lovely campground, though some are longer and probably more level than others. The heavily wooded setting makes for excellent privacy, at least so long as there are leaves on the deciduous trees! We had another rig across the road from us but no one on either side -- nice.
Due to less-than-ideal weekend weather (rain and a cold front) after a gorgeous day Thursday, only a couple more rigs came in Friday and Saturday, so the campground was only about half full all weekend. The campground was mostly very quiet and dark -- our type of place!
We got only one over-the-air TV station here, PBS. Due to all the trees and mountainous terrain, sometimes it came in better than others. We got 2 bars of Verizon 4G LTE, so internet through our Mifi device was fine.
Check out this gorgeous insect Barry spotted on our picnic table. We'd never seen anything like it. It's all decked out in Tennessee Volunteers colors!
There are two hiking trails and a short unpaved bike trail leaving right from the parking lot. We didn't pull our our mountain bikes to try the trail as Barry's rotator cuff was still healing up, but we did take two excellent hikes while in the park.
The photo above was taken as we headed out for our longer hike on Rattlesnake Ridge Trail. We'll share that one in a separate post, as we took many photos. In the meantime, here's a shorter hike we did later in our stay, right after a blustery cold front passed through. You'll notice a big difference in what I'm wearing in these two hikes!
Rock Creek Waterfall Trail Hike
This pretty woodland trail follows Rock Creek up to the waterfalls and is less than two miles round trip, though does involve a decent amount of climbing (1028' of elevation gain, according to our GPS).
We had read that there were Upper and Lower Falls, so every tiny waterfall we saw as we hiked we assumed was the Lower Falls, but we kept revising our opinion as we got to larger waterfalls along the trail. When we got to the Upper Falls, though; there was no question that we were there as the trail ends in a large cliff and you can hike no farther.
We had to cross Rock Creek a couple of times as it meandered to and fro across the trail.
Here's one of the smaller waterfalls we thought was the Lower Falls, but it wasn't! Still, it was very pretty with all the Rhododendrons around.
Here are the Lower Falls!
We continued hiking a short ways more, uphill of course, and arrived at the Upper Falls. There wasn't a lot of water this time of year, but it was still very pretty!
Stay tuned for our next post -- the fall foliage we saw from the Rattlesnake Ridge Trail was some of the nicest we've ever seen!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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