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Upper Sill Branch Falls
Lens: A 35-105, DA 12-24 Camera: K 20D Photo Location: Sampson Mt Wilderness 
Posted By: mole, 02-15-2012, 05:50 PM

Some time ago, I posted some photos from Sill Branch Falls in the Clarks Creek area of Cherokee National Forest, at the edge of Sampson Mt Wilderness. Well, there's another waterfall on up Sill Branch, called Upper Sill Branch Falls. This is a relatively short (just a few miles) but mostly off-trail hike. Uses some old paths that are fairly easy to see, but much choked with fallen trees.
It's a lush wild place at any season, and this warm wet winter has made it even more so...

Clarks Creek/Sill Branch watershed is also a rich wildlife habitat. But our frisky dogs made sure we didn't see any of the "critters" this time.

We did see plenty of wildlife signs: some fresh bear claw marks on a standing dead tree, some old Pileated Woodpecker work on a fallen tree, and a White-Lipped Forest Snail shell (snail recently eaten perhaps by a shrew) on a rotting pine log.

The "trail" follows close to, and sometimes in, the North Fork of Sill Branch. This little stream is full of splashes and riffles. Here are a few views of one of our favorite "mini-falls." Any preference among these different perspectives?

After several miles of climbing over and under fallen trees, wading in the shallow stream, and enjoying each other's company, we came to the falls. Upper Sill Branch waterfall is a bit higher (50 feet) than the lower (40 feet) falls, but usually less water volume. Thanks to all the recent rains, the falls were flowing quite well.

Here are some different views of Upper Sill Branch falls. Would really enjoy any feedback about which you prefer (or don't like) and why.

Return trip was fun and uneventful (even the rhododendron seemed to be smiling at us), and left us looking forward to more hikes in this rich wilderness.

Hope you enjoyed the trip, and that you will get to visit for yourself someday!

Thanks so much for any comments & critique!
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02-16-2012, 08:25 AM   #2
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What a wonderful place to hike. Of the mini-falls, I like the first one the most although I would like to straighten it a bit. Looks a bit titled to the right but it may just be the angle. The upper sills falls photos are beautiful but the colors in the last one seem much richer so that is my favorite.
Thanks for sharing these. Now let us know where this area is.
02-16-2012, 06:26 PM   #3
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Susan - Thanks so much for your helpful and specific comments. Angle was indeed a bit odd on the "mini-falls," will just have to hike their again soon!

To answer your question, this is in Northeast Tennessee, in a region of Cherokee National Forest called Sampson Mountain Wilderness. A rich green wild place with plenty of old forests, a great diversity of plant & animal life, and very few "official" trails. Just in case you want to try to find these falls, here's a link to the GPS location:

TN landforms: UCF011 Sill Branch (u) 50'

And here's just one photo I took recently at the lower falls:

02-16-2012, 07:00 PM   #4
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These are all beautiful photos and a privilege to view in person I would think. I like a shorter SS on the falls, but that is just being picky and really not helpful. Thanks for taking us along with you on the hike, I think I will take a nap now.


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