Greeter Falls, South Cumberland State Park
After leaving Carrie’s place in Indiana I took a few days to explore before returning to WWOOFing, getting to see a few more areas of the Cumberland Plateau in southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia. I’m in love with the landscape in this area and becoming slightly obsessed about the plateau, which constantly reminds me of the Catskill Mountains north of where I grew up – except it’s like the Catskills on steroids. The forests here feel familiar despite the prevalence of cedars and sweet gum and pine, in particular the 300 million year old lichen-covered limestone and the fern understories. There are plenty of differences however with the steep cliffs of the plateau edge and the abundance of waterfalls here which are unlike mountains of lower New York State. The spectacular waterfalls are often featured on the hikes in the South Cumberland State Park – which encompasses 25,000 acres scattered in nine separate areas in southeast Tennessee – but can be found seemingly everywhere, with multiple small falls common along any stretch of shale streambed.
The Greeter Falls Loop was a stunning hike, cutting through rich forest and across rushing streams and leading under limestone outcroppings that faced the plateau above. I began by heading left at the split towards Hemlock Falls before making my way over to Greeter Falls and then ended the day taking the spur trail over to Blue Hole, a popular summer swimming spot. It was a bright sunny day and warm for the middle of February; by midday I had taken off my flannel and was down to just a t-shirt. The warm weather, intense sun, and beautiful scenery made for a wonderful day.