Rock Creek – Rainbow Falls Trail

Lake Ocoee

Lake Ocoee

Not very far off Highway 64 near Lake Ocoee begins easily accessed trails leading up Rock Creek gorge. The parking area off county road 30 is just to the left as you turn from Hwy 64. The trails are part of the Chilhowee Trail System in the Ocoee Ranger district of the Cherokee National Forest. The map below is from the Cherokee National Forest website Map and Publications.

Rainbow Falls Map

Scenic Spur 78, Clemmer 302, and Spur 86 all have origins in a common parking area. There is space for maybe a dozen vehicles so getting an early start may be necessary. My hike started in mid morning with a goal to see Rainbow Falls. The weather was pleasant for a November day just past the peak of color change. Shortly into the walk the trail diverged with spur 78 following the creek bed off to the right.

Trail Sign #1

The color change has mostly concluded except for a few hardwoods with brilliant yellow leaves. The canopy above highlighted the blue sky.

The creek bed began to rise to be nearly coincident with the trail in many segments. The  approach to the falls was steep on either side of the valley and terminated in a chisel shaped terminus. The falls though not very high was full flowing and terraced down to a lazy pool that fed the creek beyond.


Hope you enjoy this except. Future blogs will feature some of the unusual tree root architecture I am fascinated about.

Happy Hiking!

There is (was) Gold in the hills, of Georgia

Dahlonega, Georgia was for a brief time in History a hotspot for gold mining. In 1828 Dahlonega was the site of the first major gold rush in the United States. The Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site stands in the middle of the town square, housed in the 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse. It is the oldest surviving county courthouse in the state.


Early miners found gold lying on top of the ground having eroded over time from the surrounding hills. This soon played out and streams became the place where panning methods were popular to sort the heavy gold from the lighter materials.  Some enterprising folks developed sluice boxes to filter the vast quantities of ore containing dirt. Much of the surface excavation was by hand until the advent of hydraulic mining where high volumes of water was used to literally wash away the landscape to expose the hidden gold ore.


Brass Water Nozzle


Hydraulic Water Cannon

Ore was processed mechanically through a crushing machine called stamping mills. These modules were lined up side by side in long buildings where mass quantities of ore was processed daily. Only a few remnants remain outside the museum such as the working exhibit at the Crisson Gold Mine

Ore Stamping Mill

As miners exhausted the surface, underground mines emerged. The Consolidated Gold Mine  stands today as a tourist destination providing tours and showing patrons how to pan for gold.

Tours begin inside the shop and a guide leads the group down several flights of steps to inactive mining tunnels. Along the way can be seen old dynamite boxes that once brought explosives into the mines.

Explosive Boxes

Young participants were schooled by the guide in holding the much used star drills to be pounded by a sledge hammer. Star drills formed the pockets for placement of explosives.

Demonstration Using a Star Drill

Rock formations inside the tunnels did not yield much color but surprisingly some mossy ferns have adapted to the incandescent lights.

Tunnels had very few visible supports since most excavation was in stable rock.

Along the way old pumps and roof drills sat rusting in the damp air.

At the end of the day everyone got to pan for gold with sandy dirt laced with bits of gold foil. This is surprisingly hard boring work, so don’t quit your job if this is your goal! (Unless you have the gold bug of course)

Panning For Gold



Fall Weekend Diversion: Amicalola Falls Lodge (Part 3)

High on the mountain touching the surrounding clouds above the state park sits Amicalola Falls Lodge. The North Georgia Lodge, is truly a mountain resort. Housing 57 Lodge Rooms ranging from the Executive and 3 Junior Suites, 6 Loft Rooms with a special space for the kids, 17 King and 30 Queen bedrooms are available. All the standard  amenities are onsite including a Traditional American and Southern classic cuisine Maple Restaurant that serves a generous buffet.

Amicalola Falls Lodge 1

Amicalola Falls Lodge Entrance

The lodge basks in the welcoming sunshine  with chairs lining the patio wall.

Amicalola Falls Lodge 2

Amicalola Falls Lodge facing Valley

Guest can take in the view from both a lower patio and smaller upper observation platform.

Amicalola Falls Lodge 3

Amicalola Falls Lodge Patio

The patio is perfect to take in the panorama of the spectacular distant mountains.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fall Weekend Diversion: Amicalola Falls (Part 2)

The reflecting pool sits silent as it collects water from the stream emerging from the forest beside the trail to Amicalola Falls.

Reflecting Pool

Walking from the reflecting pool up the valley, the creek began to rise with ever increasing relief. The visible tumbling water became more frequent. Boulders appeared as the water cut through the landscape.


Cascades work their way through he rocks as the water velocity increases.

Suddenly the first observation platform comes into view.

Observation Platforms

Waterfalls from the side of the rocky face in a brilliantly show of light. Amicalola Falls is now on display.

Amicalola Falls


Fall Weekend Diversion: Amicalola Falls (Part 1)

On a recent weekend in the fall of 2017, my wife and I decided to explore some of the Georgia mountains. We started our trip from Cleveland  in Tennessee where our family has a home for well over 70 years. Early on a Friday morning the trip started following East on Highway 64; then South on 411; and East on a winding 76 for an intermediate lunch stop in Ellijay, GA. We stopped for a wonderful soup and sandwich at Cantaberry Restaurant in the downtown area. I enjoyed a Turkey Bacon and Avocado sandwich with chicken and rice soup. My wife had the Apple Ham and Brie sandwich with soup. The food is always terrific. Holding off on dessert was tough since the selection of homemade pie and cakes is excellent.

Leaving Ellijay on 52 brought us soon to Amicalola State Park. Entrance fee is a modest $5.00 for day use. Shortly after the entrance a visitor center is on the right side of a well maintained paved road. Here a map was available providing guidance to the park’s amenities.

My personal agenda was to see the Amicalola Falls  which is 729-foot (222 m) high and is the highest waterfall in Georgia. The name “Amicalola” is derived from a Cherokee language word meaning “tumbling waters”.

A boardwalk funnels visitors in the direction of several trails along the Little Amicalola Creek and pauses at the reflecting pool.


Amicalola Falls State Park Boardwalk

The meandering creek soothed your thoughts as the water trickled over the rocks; only to be broken by occasional small spillways.




A reflecting pool though not so clear stood silent at a rock lined depression. Standing guard was a great weeping willow. Walking further up the trail leads to the cascading falls which serves as an entrance to the AT approach trail.




(to be continued)

Clouds From Above

Every day there are clouds of some kind in the atmosphere. Do we see them? Do they blend into our perception like so much camouflage? Next time you take a trip and fly in an airplane , look intently at the sky. Remember the view?


Amazingly, the view changes constantly. Some seem so far that like distant mountains they cannot be approached.


But suddenly the white formations rise to meet you.


As the day lingers, the sun begins to highlight the immensity and volume of the objects.


And when you think no energy is left in the last few rays of sunlight, a metamorphosis begins.


A chain of events reveals the making of a storm only to be known if you were below receiving the rain.



In the end clouds fade to white and again disappear.

Box Turtles in Baldwin County Alabama

Yesterday, I was surprised to find a juvenile box turtle on my front sidewalk. My home is in South Baldwin county Alabama and wanted to identify the animal. So I documented the visit with this portrait.


Researching online pages yielded a couple of local references describing Box Turtles in Alabama and Eastern Box Turtles. The turtle in these articles seem to be differentiated by number of rear foot toes. The shell was observed to hinge so definitely a box turtle.

Our lot backs up to undeveloped woods and a natural drainage area with Tiwasee Creek running through the bottom.  The local area fits the typical habitat. I have found adult species in the last year around some rotting stumps surrounded by ferns.


I relocated the young turtle to my back yard to keep it safe. I hope to see it in the future more times as it grows.


Streams of the Smoky Mountains

Taking a hike before the summer heat led my wife and I by a wonderful stream. I don’t recall the name but remember the swell of freshness that it pumped  down this valley. Many walks are sometimes dry but not today as the water refreshed the air above the rocks. Can you imagine the coolness of moist air on a May afternoon filling your lungs. You want to breathe deep. Hold it to squeeze all the benefits.

DSC_2326What is it about water flowing over rocks. I stare intently as though something magical is about happen. I soon realize I have no control over the rapids as they froth with white caps. I only want to remember the soothing rhythm.


Looking at the rocks so proudly peaking above the passing water deceptively declares they have conquered the waves. Only for the present that is.


Some of the boulders rise up like sentries guarding the passage like a parade.


My visit is brief but the view is pressed in my memory just like the images above. I hope you find a stream just like these.