Hiking the Margarette Falls Trail

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This week I hiked the Margarette Falls Trail with a group of spry seniors from the local Senior Center. It’s a moderate hiking trail located in the Cherokee National Forest near Greeneville. It was named for Margaret Doak, who is credited for enjoying the waterfalls at the top of the trail in the early 1920s. I haven’t been able to find much more about this lady, but the Doaks were a founding family in Tusculum so I think it’s possible that they played a part in contributing the land to the Forest Service. 

The day started with a sky full of clouds and somewhat higher in humidity. We arrived early in the morning, but by noon the weather cleared and it became a beautiful September day. The leaves are just beginning to turn and some were scattered along the trail.

The first half mile was a graveled forest road. After that, we reached a Forest Service bulletin board with a map and wildlife information. Our trail forked to the right.

 

The air smelled wonderful. Wild white asters and jewel weed were blooming. 

They’re new to me, but one of the ladies (who will soon be 78) knew quite a bit about the plants and insects we passed. I was glad she was with us!

We quickly arrived at a stream and followed it to an iron and wood bridge. 

 

I saw many little cascades along the way and stopped to admire the scenery. 

 

The trail grew more difficult after crossing the bridge. There was a long stretch of trail that consisted mostly of rocks. It took me a little while to cross this, since some of the rocks were not very stable, testing my balance. My hiking stick stuck between them and I had to stop to free the rubber bottom. But I finally managed it and continued up the steeper grade.

The tree roots at one point crossed the path so thickly that it reminded me of the Kumano Kodo trail in Japan. My husband and I took that trip in September of 2015, and this was no where near as difficult. But the rock steps and root ladders brought back fond memories!

A short while later I reached the top of the trail and the beautiful Margarette Falls. 

According to the USDAFS website, the top ledge is 60 feet high. The trail continues up a very steep incline to the top of the falls, but I was content to sit on the rocks at the bottom and admire the view. We spent an hour there, munching on snacks and chatting before heading back to the bus. 

If you want to try the trail, I recommend taking precautions if you have difficulties with your ankles or knees. The rocks were moist in areas, slippery, and at one point we had to cross the stream without a bridge. There are stepping stones across it, but it’s quite possible to walk right through the water if you prefer. Also, by the time we left the gnats were swarming in thick clouds. They weren’t harmful but more of a nuisance. The waterfall is well worth the trip, though, and the hike is short enough to be finished quickly if needed. My actual hiking time was less than 2 hours but I stopped frequently to inspect plants and take photos. The USDA Forest Service website link is here: Margarette Falls Trail

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