We literally decided day before yesterday that we needed to go camping this weekend. Temps in the 70’s was just too much to resist. We flew to Florida about a month ago to visit friends and a cold front came through. It was 75 degrees there the day before we flew out and we had freeze warnings, temps in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s while we were there. So that made the allure of a great weekend camping and hiking to much to resist.
Now, anyone who has camped in Covid era knows that the camping community has many, many more members than it did pre-covid and now requires a lot of planning. When you add that to choosing one of the most popular campgrounds around, well let’s just say my first thought was not a positive one. My mind was already spinning on the fact I would not find and site here. I would have to call to check for cancellations everywhere and how was I going to tell Cathy that there was no where to camp. How shocked was I to find 10 plus sites available? Let’s just say that I had a fun few moments of Cussing Todd.
We had been wanting to camp at Fall Creek Falls State Park for while. So needless to say I grabbed a spot. B Loop, site 104. We headed out right after work for the hour drive. I was pleasantly surprised to find a loop right in front of our site that allowed me to pull in and back straight into the site. This is much easier than trying to back and turn your rig into a site. This site was listed as some slope. Well, it has a lot of slope. I used pretty much every board and block I brought. The slope is back to front which is easier to deal with but I put every board that would fit under the jack and I used all the jack. It was about 8 or 9 inch drop
Leveling from side to side was easy enough it was only 2 or 3 inches and you know I love my levelers. The site is deep and lightly wooded. This site has full hookups but it is also right beside the bath house if you prefer to use it. It’s a paved site with gravel picnic space, charcoal grill and a small retaining wall. On the other side of the wall is your fire ring with also includes a grilling surface. This is far enough from your camper that you awning shouldn’t be a concern.
The sites here are mostly well spaced and wooded. You don’t have the claustrophobic feel or worry that you don’t have room to open you awning or slide-out without hitting your neighbor. Of course you are close enough to hear your neighbors. I mean it’s a campground right? We will drive around some tomorrow and pick sites for future trips and list the good ones.
Since we left after work our plan was to hit the park The Restaurant At Fall Creek Falls. If you have not been to Fall Creek Falls recently. The lodge, hotel and restaurant are all newly remodeled. This isn’t the previously greasy country buffet of old. It’s now a modern grille complete with full bar and beer on tap! The wait was 50 minutes but the lodge has a great common area with 5 or 6 different seating types and arrangements. Suitable for 2 to groups of 10. A large fireplace, decks overlooking the lake and multiple large gas fire pits. When I say large I mean 8+ people large and 2 to 3 foot tall flames.
So the wait was comfortable. We moved around a bit and chatted with some nice couple by one of the fire pits. The normally would make the wait tolerable but I have to be honest we had both skipped a meal. Cathy worked through lunch to get off early so I was hungry and she was HANGRY!
The food here is very good. The Grille has a small but varied menu. The bar just added liquor and has a nice assortment of local beers on tap, your standby Mich Ultra and a large selection of bottled beers, ciders and seltzers. I will say that waitress was mostly attentive and the food service was slow. We can highly recommend the burger and the pimento cheese mac and cheese. I do want to give cudos to the park ranger whom I saw walk in and say he was having a slow night, offered to help and started busing tables.
We had planned to have a nice evening by the fire but we were tired as hell when we finally got back to the camper and called it a night. Tomorrow we will start with breakfast and plan an hike.
The day started off with some bacon and cheese bagels. Someone forgot to get eggs. Actually, Instacart left them off our order, but I forget that and thought I had loaded them in the camper. But breakfast was still very good. I also forgot our Camelbacks but Cathy as always was prepared with cinch sack. We made a stop by the Camp store at the Fall Creek Falls Village. They have just about everything. Including lots of regional Tennessee craft beer. More on that later. Since I also forgot to load the bottled water, this stop was a must.
The village isn’t large but it’s part of this huge park that makes it so nice and so good for families. In this area you have a brand new visitors center, which we have not checked out yet. Activity center, clothing store, the general store, screened pavilions, pool, snack bar, tennis, golf, volleyball, basketball and other field sports.
The are over 56 miles of trails here. We chose the Loop Trail and actually went across the swinging bridge over to the Nature Center. We hiked just under 3 miles. This is a moderate hike that most anyone can do and they allow dogs on the trails. You can easily exert yourself if you like and you can choose different trails during the hike to lengthen or shorten the distance. There is some elevation change.
The hike features roots, rocks, leaves and mud so wear appropriate shoes. We could not have asked for better weather. We started in the high 50’s and by the end it was 70 degrees. The Cumberland Plateau is known to be windy and there were gusts up to 28 mph today that were very much appreciated. We started with a t-shirt layer and a long sleeve pull over layer. The pull overs didn’t last long before they were tied around our waist. I should note that if for some reason you failed to bring snacks or water. You come within a stair decent/climb and a swinging bridge crossing of the Nature Center which has a small fridge of cold beverages and a restroom pavilion that has vending machines. There is an overlook for the two falls but is is not as good in my opinion as the one on the trail as you will see from the pics here.
View the hike here
I have to admit that as nice as the hike was and as much as I enjoy spending time in nature with the beautiful and talented Cathy. My heart was heavy today. I have some friends in Ukraine. One of my friends Borys, loves camping, hiking and photography. While they have been heavy on my mind all week. Camping and especially hiking today had me thinking how much he and his family would enjoy our beautiful surrounding and wondering if I would be able to visit him in his beautiful Ukraine as a free country. A country he and my other friends and acquaintance’s there love so much. They are there helping and preparing to fight for their independence and freedom. I admire them so much and hope for their safety.
After a morning of hiking we headed back to the General Store and grabbed some regional beers that I don’t see at home very often if ever. Then we went back to B104 and settled in for an relaxing afternoon. Cathy enjoyed an afternoon in one of her Christmas presents listening to Stephen King on Audible while I updated this blog post and started on some of my accumulated beers. Well I tried it out briefly