My two best purchases recently have been my new Altra hiking shoes and Matilde (my Jeep). I don’t think I would have had much fun, or even made it to the hike, if it weren’t for them.
The road to Kentucky Falls is a long one. You take a well-trafficked highway to a side road. You stay on that one-lane paved road for a while, and then your GPS will say, “In half a mile, prepare to park your car and walk to your destination.” At least, that’s what mine told me. In reality, it just meant I was joining onto a gravel road. I kept driving, of course. It was another 5 miles or so, and then it connected with another paved road. It was on that paved road (2.8 miles long) that I realized I wasn’t going to have my GPS on the way back because I wouldn’t have cell reception. So I started to really pay attention to where I was. Maybe I should’ve started that sooner.
When I say there were potholes on the gravel road, I think it wouldn’t be clear enough. I would rather say there were craters. Some of those potholes were incredible! I definitely would not have made it in my Mini. Matilde, however, had no problems at all.
It seems like I was driving such a long time when I finally saw a ray of hope…
Once I saw that sign, I knew everything would be fine. Well, as long as I could find my way back.
I parked in the very small parking lot… I think it would comfortably house four or five cars. There was a picnic table or two on the side near the creek., and I think a pit toilet or something. The trail head was across the road, so off I went!
The first thing I realized was there would be more than one waterfall on this trip. I’m glad I read that sign, because I would’ve stopped hiking a lot sooner than I did. Three falls?!? My lucky day!
These two trees must have fallen somewhat recently. They were not very easy to get over. I went over the top, staying on the trail, on my way through the first time. On my way back, I went up the hill a little bit where other people had made a go-around trail and went over the bottom tree and under the top tree. Neither option was comfortable or clean.
Other than that, the path was pretty good so far! It wasn’t terribly wide, but it was very clear where the path was.
The canopy made for some low lighting, and it almost felt like it was evening time, especially the farther in I got.
There ended up being four or five trees that were over the path, but nothing like the first pair.
I saw this tree and I couldn’t help but wonder when it was going to fall down. It looks like it is rotting from the outside in.
I could hear the falls and the path got narrower and rockier. At one point, when the falls became visible, there was a flat, vertical rock that the sound would bounce off of and it sounded like there were more falls just around some corner. It was pretty cool.
Upper Kentucky Falls, from a distance.
It seemed like this waterfall looked a little different from every perspective. It was so beautiful.
I hadn’t realized I would be going all the way down, until I saw this…
Switchbacks upon switchbacks!
I could feel the wind coming off of this waterfall, cooling me off. Not that I was very hot, because I was just going down at this point. Very far down.
Shortly after the upper waterfall was this nice little slide.
Fantastic moss! I actually ran my fingers through a little bit of this. It was dry, but very healthy.
This little tree apparently took a lot of branches with it when it came down.
This was a fun little bridge. I actually took the picture on my way back, because the lighting was a little bit better. I’m not sure why it only has one side of the railing, but it works just fine.
I hit a little bit of sun, and it felt so good. A lot of the trail is shaded and a bit dark, so the sun was a welcomed bit of change.
This bigger bridge went over Kentucky Creek. It felt a little bit like it wasn’t as sturdy as I would like it to be, but it held up just fine and I was safe.
The creek isn’t that big, but it must be deceptively deep or something, because it fed the Upper Kentucky Falls and would feed the Lower as well…
I went on my merry way… Until suddenly the creek wasn’t next to me anymore, and it sounded like it was way below me again. I was a little confused, and then I started doing a bunch more switchbacks… Going farther down. Yeesh! The trip back was going to be a doozy. I was starting to think I would never find the lower falls until I saw this sign.
I went to the right, and around the corner I suddenly hear it and then saw it. I had apparently passed the waterfall when the trail meandered slightly away from the creek.
But wait, there’s more! This one is actually a two-fer!
I was pleasantly surprised to see two waterfalls there, although the more I went closer to the one on the right, the less I saw of the one on the left, which I believe is the North Fork Smith Falls. There is a nice wooden structure for people to walk on or rest on a tiny bench while they are viewing the beauty of this place.
Fun tidbit for you: When I was around 14 years old, I got hooked up with the Looking Glass program. They helped me get a job during the summer. Making around $3.15/hr (minimum wage then), I got to work with the Forest Service. We cleared trails and other things, but I actually got to work on this trail. I didn’t really remember anything about it except for this waterfall.
I was working with a school chum at that site, and she let me borrow her Walkman. I accidentally dropped it between some of the rocks below as we climbed around the rocks. The water was surprisingly deep in those holes! I ended up having to buy her a new Walkman and The Outfield tapes (I can’t remember which one). Over 30 years later, I held on to my phone so tight while taking pictures!
Obligatory selfie coming!
I do love it when signs point the way clearly.
I don’t know what kind of berries these are, and I didn’t eat any to find out.
On my way back up. And up and up… I got to see the upper falls in a different light, and it was just gorgeous.
Finished, I started on my way back. I felt pretty confident that I can remember the way, and it appears that I did.
I don’t necessarily like ending a hike on a climb, but there was really no way around it. This was a great hike, to be honest. I only saw one other person – an older gentleman and his dog. It probably helps that it was a Thursday… and it’s not exactly a quick drive to get there.
My Apple watch and the AllTrails app had very different information when it came to distance and elevation gain. I ended up going with AllTrails because I had downloaded the map and it didn’t need an internet connection. I’m not sure if my Apple watch did or not.
Distance: 3.7 miles; Elevation Gain: 987 feet