(Sort of) rock climbing

Pikeville Travel Blog

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Fall Creek Falls

My friend told me about a hiking trail called the "Cable Trail" at Fall Creek Falls State Park.  Apparently this trail is so steep you need the aide of a cable to make it up and down the rocks.  She was a little nervous to do this trail because she was alone and figured if she fell, no one would know where to look for her.  So of course I had to do the trail to prove I could!  And ALONE!  So off I went to find this park with this mysteriously luring trail.

I found the park an hour and a half away through the rolling hills.  The park had some confusing signs and lots of roads and I wasn't sure where to go, so I just sort of drove through the park.  I found myself at the end of the road at the conference center.

fun trail
  Oops.  Turn around.  I saw a sign to the Falls.  Well, surprisingly enough, even when the name of the park has waterfalls mentioned, that wasn't what I came to see.  But I figured I might as well see it since I drove so far.  After all, it is supposed to be the tallest waterfall East of the Mississippi River.  I walked up to the overlook expecting this wonderful waterfall and boy was I disappointed!  If I squinted my eyes, I could just barely make out the water trickling over the edge.  Okay, that was a little exaggerated, but then I remembered that the area is in a drought, so of course there wouldn't be much water flowing.  The plunge pool was pretty neat - the misty sprays from the falls froze into a couple of ice craters.
frozen plunge pool

I hiked the trail down to the plunge pool.  The trail was fun with lots of rock steps to go down and then rocks to walk under and then rocks to sit on at the end.  The pool itself was also frozen over and some guys were out playing on the ice.  I heard a thunk - one of the guys was throwing large rocks out on the ice to try to break it.  I looked closer.  There were tons of large rocks sitting on the ice.  Hmmm, must have been a lot of guys down here over the last couple weeks.  I looked up and saw an icicle falling and heard a small crash.  Wow, I would not want to be under an icicle after if fell 200 feet.

I grew bored watching the guys so I went back up.  A little winded after all those steps, I hopped in my car and finished the scenic loop drive.

Oh, its supposed to have water!
  Well, almost.  I got behind a car going really slow.  They turned to go to another waterfall.  I wanted to drive faster, so I turned the other way.  I was determined to find this cable trail.  And even more determined to hike down and up without falling or dying.  Especially because no one knew where I was either.  I knew it was by the nature center, but I had no idea where that was.  So I guessed and took some roads I hadn't been on yet.  Just by chance I noticed the sign pointing to the visitor center, so I turned off and jumped out ready to go!  I read that it was a rewarding climb down, bring a book to read to the sound of the water before you climb back up.  Well, it was a little cool and I wasn't planning on reading down there, but I was hungry.
Top of Cane Creek Falls
  I pulled out a snack to bring with.  Off I went.  Hmm.  No trail.  Where is it?  I see Cane Creek Falls - or the top of it.  But I didn't see the Cable Trail, which was off of another hiking trail.  In fact, I didn't see any hiking trails around.  Well, the visitor center usually has a map, so I better go check it out.

Into the visitor center I go.  They had some little displays and a see through bee hive on the window.  And a 3D topographic model of the park with the rivers, falls and trails marked.  I looked at the cable trail.  Yep, there it was, near the Visitor Center.  And boy was it a steep drop to the river below!  What am I getting myself into?  I can't back out now!  I drove all the way here just for this trail!

But I had to find the trail first.

Top of the Cable trail!
  I went back to my car, looked around, walked up to the bathrooms, looked around - oh!  There it is!  Across the road from the bathrooms!  Finally!  Off I go!  I follow the little Paw Paw trail (labelled "easy") down a little hill, tripping over rocks and roots and slipping in mud.  This is an EASY trail?  What on earth will the "difficult" cable trail be like?  Maybe I'll just go to the cable and check it out.  So I'm following the trail and it just sort of ends at a little river.  I guess I jump across the water, step on a rock in the middle and jump over to the far side.  Oh look, there's my trail!  I get to the top and look down.  Cool!  There really is a cable!  And a little steep drop down some rocks that looks harder going down than coming up.
Looking back up the cable trail
  I'm pretty confident I can handle this, so I drop over the edge.  I used the cable on the way down - it is easier than not using it.  It was fun, I'd swing a little bit as I dropped from ledge to ledge.  It might be harder with other people all hanging on the cable at the same time, but it was just me, so it was fun.  The bottom was a nice sheet of ice.

I walked out to the rocks along the river and got a great view of Cane Creek Falls.  It was pretty with the ice forming around the edges.  I sat on a rock and enjoyed it for awhile.  I wished I had on some long underwear - it was cold and the rocks were really cold!  After awhile, my butt was a little frozen and the sun was setting so I decided I better head back up.

Cane Creek Falls
  And I was right, going up was easier than going down, at least in terms of not using the cable.  It was fun - large holds to pull yourself up.  I scrambled up the rocks and even used tree roots for holds, but not the cable!  This is the stuff you usually get in trouble for doing at a park because you are going off the trail to climb on the rocks.  But here its okay!  I'm glad I did it - it was fun!  And I could feel the burn in my legs from the two climbs/hikes.  I wanted to do it again, but decided I should probably head home.  I did it and can prove it!

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Fall Creek Falls
Fall Creek Falls
fun trail
fun trail
frozen plunge pool
frozen plunge pool
Oh, its supposed to have water!
Oh, its supposed to have water!
Top of Cane Creek Falls
Top of Cane Creek Falls
Top of the Cable trail!
Top of the Cable trail!
Looking back up the cable trail
Looking back up the cable trail
Cane Creek Falls
Cane Creek Falls
Me on the cable trail
Me on the cable trail
icicles on the trail
icicles on the trail
Cane Creek Falls close up
Cane Creek Falls close up
Me at bottom of Cane Creek Falls
Me at bottom of Cane Creek Falls
Cane Creek Falls from bottom of Ca…
Cane Creek Falls from bottom of C…
Pikeville
photo by: alyssa_ob