View Full Version : Trail to Meigs Falls

Bruce E. Rathbun
28-Apr-2005, 20:44
Can anyone tell me how to get to the bottom of Meigs falls in the Smoky Mountains? The waterfall is visible from the road yet I have seen people at the base of the falls. There are also many images taken from the base.


Scott Rosenberg
28-Apr-2005, 23:43
where is steve hamley when you need him?

if you don't get an answer on this thread, try posting over here: http://forums.naturephotographers.net/6/ubb.x?a=frm&s=8306088241&f=1826080172

Steve Hamley
29-Apr-2005, 03:35
Bruce and Scott,

"where is steve hamley when you need him?"

Why, asleep of course after almost a hard week of bureaucracy!

There's a trail that starts at the Sinks and goes towards the falls, called the Meig's Creek trail. At 1.75 miles, there's a spur that takes you down to the falls. There are quite a few crossings of Meig's creek, so it's best to avoid it during periods of heavy rain. This is according to "Hiking Trails of the Smokies", the current trail guide, and is also mentioned in the earlier "Hiker's Guide to the Smokies", a Sierra Club book.

You really need to hike this trail if you want a clean shot of the falls because there's a dead beetle-munched pine tree in the foreground right now as I'm sure you know.


Steve Hamley
29-Apr-2005, 03:49
Hey Bruce,

Since you seem to be going there, how about taking a chainsaw and cutting that darned dead pine across the foreground stream and throwing the pieces out of view? :^D


Matthew Cromer
29-Apr-2005, 06:22
As long as we're taking requests, please take your chainsaw after you take care of Hamley's tree and go up the Big Creek trail. There is a nasty fallen tree in the river, right at the most scenic bend on the creek. I'll be glad to pay you $20 once this task is accomplished!

Dan Brittain
29-Apr-2005, 06:22
I have always just parked at the road, crossed the creek and walked to it. I always put my stuff in a big plastic garbage bag to cross the creek just in case. Definitly not something to do in high water or freezing temps but normally not too bad. (and as of right now the high water obstacle would apply. It's rained all week!!) Have fun.

Scott Rosenberg
29-Apr-2005, 16:00
steve and matthew, there's none more knowledgable on the area! thanks for not makin' a liar out of me fellas... you guys never dissapoint.

Steve Hamley
29-Apr-2005, 20:18

Nodda problem man! As Dan points out. you can ford the river. Trout fisherman do it all the time. However, I know trout fisherman that avoid such stuff because the rocks are slick and the danger is relatively high except in times of low water.

I'd never recommend anyone ford the Little River with large format gear, which is about 35 pounds more than trout gear. although it obviously can be done (I've done it). It's dangerous to you and your gear, and you need to think about abandoning everything in the pack to save your life. Make the decision BEFORE you ford.

Oh yes, and if you even think about the decision, 1.75 miles to the spur looks good.


Bruce E. Rathbun
29-Apr-2005, 20:44
Call me a lightweight......crossing the river with a ULF camera in tow would be insane. Bad enough to hump all that gear back to the falls on the trail. Time for the Wheaties!!!! I will opt for the trail. The maps give the impression that there is no trail from the Sinks area yet I figured there must be one. Is there anyway to get lost???? Not that I would stray off of the trail. I just wonder how much one must "bushwack" to get to the actual base of the falls. Anyone hiked the trail recently? I would LOVE to clear the debris from the base....All that clutter is a pain to deal with. Maybe if I am lucky the water will not be too high a month from now when i am there. Thanks to Steve and all.

BTW...if I even started clearing 1/10th of the natural clutter in the Smokies there would be no time to photograph.

Patrick Thrush
30-Apr-2005, 10:16
Here is a sure-fire way to prevent getting lost: Take along a deck of cards, and if you get disoriented, sit down and start playing Solitaire. In no time, someone will come along and try to kibbitz your game. Simply follow them out...

Another more technologically driven solution is a GPS receiver. Several years ago when I began doing HABS recordation of buildings, I added a UTM coordinate section to the log sheet so that the exact position of the camera for every shot could be mapped as part of the documentation, and that later generations of preservation photographers could set the shots back up again to show change over time from the same perspectives. It is also very helpful when having to re-shoot a particular exposure.

I now do the same thing for all my locations. A handheld works fine for "on the spot" readings, and I have GPS tied to the laptop in the car most of the time I am on local road trips for general locations. This is good for marking a spot that you want to return to later when you don't have your equipment with you.

Steve Hamley
30-Apr-2005, 18:34
I doubt you'd get lost. The Meig's Creek trail is marked at the Sinks and is listed in the current hiking guide, although the spur trail might not be marked, although it is mentioned in the hiking guide. It's part of the inter-mountain trail system so there will probably not be any rough going other than the usual ups and downs that trails spanning coves and valleys have.

I haven't hiked this trail to the falls, but if you're not in any hurry I'll try to scout it out and report to you. We've had a lot of rain this week, so it isn't going to happen this weekend. BTW, this trail was known as Buckhorn Gap trail many years ago and apparently wasn't maintained.


Bruce E. Rathbun
30-Apr-2005, 22:03
Thanks Steve! That would be great. I am in no big hurry. My original intent was to head out in about three weeks. Now I am looing at more like a month and a half or so depending on the rainfall. Let me know the conditions of the trail as well if possible. I will also be hiking the dreaded trail to Ramsey's Cascades.


1-May-2005, 07:55
Anybody know who Meigs was?

Matthew Cromer
1-May-2005, 08:07
Howard Meigs was a large format photographer who wanted to photograph the falls and decided to wade across the Little River with his backpack on. His friends watched in horror as the swift currents swept him downstream and drowned him under a big hydraulic. Ever since then this cateract has been called "Meigs falls".