Stinging Fork State Natural Area

Stinging Fork State Natural Area is located on the Cumberland Plateau in a Bowater Pocket Wilderness. It is 5 miles up Shut-in Gap Road from Piney River State Natural Area. The highlight of the hike is this beautiful waterfall, Stinging Fork Falls.
Image Number Image (Click to Enlarge)CaptionImage Viewed
1 The <strong>Stinging Fork Pocket Wilderness / State Natural Area</strong> is located on the Cumberland Plateau near Spring City; the parking area is on Shut-in Gap Road 5 miles from Piney River Pocket Wilderness. The beginning of the trail starts in a ...

The Stinging Fork Pocket Wilderness / State Natural Area is located on the Cumberland Plateau near Spring City; the parking area is on Shut-in Gap Road 5 miles from Piney River Pocket Wilderness. The beginning of the trail starts in a ...

The Stinging Fork Pocket Wilderness / State Natural Area is located on the Cumberland Plateau near Spring City; the parking area is on Shut-in Gap Road 5 miles from Piney River Pocket Wilderness. The beginning of the trail starts in a clear-cut pine forest. The dead trees in this photo are not victims of a hurricane, they had been attacked by the Southern Pine Beetle during the past few years. The trail soon passes from the clear cut into a lovely forest. This area has a beautiful waterfall, lovely cascades, and a deep sandstone gorge. 1997
2 The Pocket Wilderness land is set aside by the Bowater Paper Company. The land to the right of the trail has young pine trees growing on it; a new forest in the making.

The Pocket Wilderness land is set aside by the Bowater Paper Company. The land to the right of the trail has young pine trees growing on it; a new forest in the making.

The Pocket Wilderness land is set aside by the Bowater Paper Company. The land to the right of the trail has young pine trees growing on it; a new forest in the making. 1549
3 The view from the top of the plateau seems to go on forever! The tops of the Cumberland Mountains can be seen just above the treeline in the center of this photo.

The view from the top of the plateau seems to go on forever! The tops of the Cumberland Mountains can be seen just above the treeline in the center of this photo.

The view from the top of the plateau seems to go on forever! The tops of the Cumberland Mountains can be seen just above the treeline in the center of this photo. 1559
4 The beginning of the trail has lots of Climbing fern. This is an unusual fern that is found on the Cumberland Plateau.

The beginning of the trail has lots of Climbing fern. This is an unusual fern that is found on the Cumberland Plateau.

The beginning of the trail has lots of Climbing fern. This is an unusual fern that is found on the Cumberland Plateau. 1495
5 The trail comes to the edge of the river gorge. A turn to the left takes hikers to a lovely overlook called Indian Head Point. The rushing water of the cascades and falls far below can be heard from here.

The trail comes to the edge of the river gorge. A turn to the left takes hikers to a lovely overlook called Indian Head Point. The rushing water of the cascades and falls far below can be heard from here.

The trail comes to the edge of the river gorge. A turn to the left takes hikers to a lovely overlook called Indian Head Point. The rushing water of the cascades and falls far below can be heard from here. 1557
6 The trail to the overlook is rocky. On this lovely day in November I found Trailing Arbutus, Mountain Laurel, and Rhododendron growing along the trail. Look for many wildflowers here in the spring!

The trail to the overlook is rocky. On this lovely day in November I found Trailing Arbutus, Mountain Laurel, and Rhododendron growing along the trail. Look for many wildflowers here in the spring!

The trail to the overlook is rocky. On this lovely day in November I found Trailing Arbutus, Mountain Laurel, and Rhododendron growing along the trail. Look for many wildflowers here in the spring! 1498
7 The rocks near the overlook were carpeted with lichens and mosses.

The rocks near the overlook were carpeted with lichens and mosses.

The rocks near the overlook were carpeted with lichens and mosses. 1494
8 Like all of the Cumberland Plateau, the rocks are made of sandstone.

Like all of the Cumberland Plateau, the rocks are made of sandstone.

Like all of the Cumberland Plateau, the rocks are made of sandstone. 1494
9 The view from the overlook is even better in the fall when the leaves are off the trees. Here my husband Ken (left) and our friend (and my photography mentor) Charlie enjoy the lovely vista. Ken is peering over the edge of the cliff, a very long dropof...

The view from the overlook is even better in the fall when the leaves are off the trees. Here my husband Ken (left) and our friend (and my photography mentor) Charlie enjoy the lovely vista. Ken is peering over the edge of the cliff, a very long dropof...

The view from the overlook is even better in the fall when the leaves are off the trees. Here my husband Ken (left) and our friend (and my photography mentor) Charlie enjoy the lovely vista. Ken is peering over the edge of the cliff, a very long dropoff. This would not be a good place for small children! 1534
10 Coming back from Indian Head Point take the right trail to Stinging Fork Falls (at the previous sign). The flat trail at the top suddenly drops down the side of the gorge. Be careful on the wooden steps!

Coming back from Indian Head Point take the right trail to Stinging Fork Falls (at the previous sign). The flat trail at the top suddenly drops down the side of the gorge. Be careful on the wooden steps!

Coming back from Indian Head Point take the right trail to Stinging Fork Falls (at the previous sign). The flat trail at the top suddenly drops down the side of the gorge. Be careful on the wooden steps! 1475
11 We finally made it to the cascades at the top of the falls.

We finally made it to the cascades at the top of the falls.

We finally made it to the cascades at the top of the falls. 1418
12 I did a bit of "bushwhacking" to get this shot of the cascades above the falls!

I did a bit of "bushwhacking" to get this shot of the cascades above the falls!

I did a bit of "bushwhacking" to get this shot of the cascades above the falls! 1436
13 Pictures do not do justice to the power and beauty of rushing water!

Pictures do not do justice to the power and beauty of rushing water!

Pictures do not do justice to the power and beauty of rushing water! 1466
14 Here goes the water over the edge of the falls!

Here goes the water over the edge of the falls!

Here goes the water over the edge of the falls! 1489
15 We took the hard way to get down to the plunge pool below the falls!

We took the hard way to get down to the plunge pool below the falls!

We took the hard way to get down to the plunge pool below the falls! 1427
16 Stinging Fork Falls is a 30-foot waterfall. There was a lot of water the day we visited due to a good rainfall two days earlier.

Stinging Fork Falls is a 30-foot waterfall. There was a lot of water the day we visited due to a good rainfall two days earlier.

Stinging Fork Falls is a 30-foot waterfall. There was a lot of water the day we visited due to a good rainfall two days earlier. 1572
17 The flooding rains of September 2004 (compliments of Hurricane Ivan) caused this massive logjam at the base of the plunge pool. Charlie found a good, if not a bit slippery, spot to take pictures!

The flooding rains of September 2004 (compliments of Hurricane Ivan) caused this massive logjam at the base of the plunge pool. Charlie found a good, if not a bit slippery, spot to take pictures!

The flooding rains of September 2004 (compliments of Hurricane Ivan) caused this massive logjam at the base of the plunge pool. Charlie found a good, if not a bit slippery, spot to take pictures! 1429
18 Ken and Charlie enjoy the view of the rushing creek below the falls.

Ken and Charlie enjoy the view of the rushing creek below the falls.

Ken and Charlie enjoy the view of the rushing creek below the falls. 1407
19 These pine beetle larvae trails attest to the damage done to the trees in the forest on the ridge above. The larvae eat the green cambium layer just below the tree bark, quickly killing the tree. The land above the falls is Bowater Paper Company land w...

These pine beetle larvae trails attest to the damage done to the trees in the forest on the ridge above. The larvae eat the green cambium layer just below the tree bark, quickly killing the tree. The land above the falls is Bowater Paper Company land w...

These pine beetle larvae trails attest to the damage done to the trees in the forest on the ridge above. The larvae eat the green cambium layer just below the tree bark, quickly killing the tree. The land above the falls is Bowater Paper Company land which had been thickly planted in pines. A monoculture of trees can be seriously affected by an attack of insects or disease. The native beetles go through a cycle every so many years, millions of beetles killing most of the trees in the forests, then suddenly their numbers crash, allowing the surviving trees to grow again. 2199
20 The patterns in the wood of this pine stump fascinated me!

The patterns in the wood of this pine stump fascinated me!

The patterns in the wood of this pine stump fascinated me! 1428
21 Stinging Fork Creek

Stinging Fork Creek

Stinging Fork Creek 1351
22 Another view of Stinging Fork Falls.

Another view of Stinging Fork Falls.

Another view of Stinging Fork Falls. 1389
23 A pretty little cascade below the falls.

A pretty little cascade below the falls.

A pretty little cascade below the falls. 1427
24 Ken and Charlie pass a sandstone Rock House as we take the easier (and correct!) trail away from the falls.

Ken and Charlie pass a sandstone Rock House as we take the easier (and correct!) trail away from the falls.

Ken and Charlie pass a sandstone Rock House as we take the easier (and correct!) trail away from the falls. 1478
25 Stinging Fork creek has lots of large rocks.

Stinging Fork creek has lots of large rocks.

Stinging Fork creek has lots of large rocks. 1442
26 This "natural waterslide" creek would be inviting on a hot summer day! :)

This "natural waterslide" creek would be inviting on a hot summer day! :)

This "natural waterslide" creek would be inviting on a hot summer day! :) 2249
27 More lovely creek water!

More lovely creek water!

More lovely creek water! 1513
28 This pretty cascade is in Stinging Fork creek. It ends in a long, flat slide.

This pretty cascade is in Stinging Fork creek. It ends in a long, flat slide.

This pretty cascade is in Stinging Fork creek. It ends in a long, flat slide. 1428
29 Another view of the cascade.

Another view of the cascade.

Another view of the cascade. 1478
30 A lovely red Red Maple leaf!

A lovely red Red Maple leaf!

A lovely red Red Maple leaf! 1418
31 A cliff drips from a recent rainfall.

A cliff drips from a recent rainfall.

A cliff drips from a recent rainfall. 1441
32 The source of the red Red Maple leaf?

The source of the red Red Maple leaf?

The source of the red Red Maple leaf? 1418
33 On the trail on the way back up the gorge.

On the trail on the way back up the gorge.

On the trail on the way back up the gorge. 1379
34 Whew, this was a good aerobic exercise!

Whew, this was a good aerobic exercise!

Whew, this was a good aerobic exercise! 1483
35 There is a set of steps to help get you out of the gorge!

There is a set of steps to help get you out of the gorge!

There is a set of steps to help get you out of the gorge! 1467
36 I liked these pretty little Red Maple leaves with the Christmas  fern. Some of the most interesting sights can be right under your feet! :)

I liked these pretty little Red Maple leaves with the Christmas fern. Some of the most interesting sights can be right under your feet! :)

I liked these pretty little Red Maple leaves with the Christmas fern. Some of the most interesting sights can be right under your feet! :) 1674

Adsense