March 30, 2017
The weather could not have been more perfect. While they were predicting storms of biblical proportions back in west and middle Tennessee, I decided to head about three hours north east and take in some hiking.
My original plans were to take a good friend of mine on a birthday hike to Twin Arches. However, the weather alerts spooked her and she dropped out. No amount of reasoning was going to convince her that the storms were not going to be anywhere near the area where we would be hiking. She thought I was nuts for going. I knew I would be fine.
So, I hit the road and headed out for yet another solo hike. Early on I decided to ditch the Twin Arches hike. I have been several times and wanted to see a new area of Big South Fork. So, I decided on Slave Falls.
According to the sign at the falls the area is named Slave Falls because escaping slaves would often hide in the caves around the falls. The area, like all of Big South Fork, is gorgeous. I imagine there were plenty of places for someone to hide. There are many caves in the area and water is everywhere.
After you turn onto Divide Road just follow the signs to the Sawmill Trail head.
Hike to Needle Arch
After coming back up the hill at the Slave Falls trail I went left and took the short path up to Needle Arch. It’s a small arch created after thousands of years of erosion. NOTHING compared to the Twin Arches a few miles away. Now THOSE are some arches. While this wasn’t anything monumental, kids will like seeing it. There is a sign posted to keep off the arches. Since the hike to it isn’t all that far it’s worth doing.
From the National Park Service Website:
Slave Falls/Needle Arch
This short, easy hike includes a good view of a 60 foot waterfall as well as a natural arch. The hike is approximately 1.5 miles one way and can be done in about an hour. There may be very little water coming over the falls in late summer and fall but the hike is still worthwhile. To access Slave Falls use the Sawmill trailhead located on the western part of the park in Tennessee. Turn on Divide Road and travel one mile from Hwy 154. At the next intersection turn right on to Fork Ridge Road. Sawmill will be on your left just past the Middle Creek Equestrian trailhead.
Need to know:
- Easy hike for beginners and children
- Take a camera
- water/snacks/comfortable shoes