Cindy and I decided to head to Kentucky for our anniversary this year. She did a lot of online research and found photos of some excellent waterfalls, rock formations and other scenery. Neither one of us has been there, so she picked enough locations to fill 4 days worth of hiking. We decided to camp at the Holly Bay campground in the London District since it was central to a lot of what we wanted to see.
We packed the car on Sunday, got an early start on Monday, and were setting up camp by early afternoon. As soon as we finished, we headed for a trail head. The first hike was to Vanhook Falls along a section of the Sheltowee Trace trail. We began the hike at the trail head located at the intersection of KY 192 and 1193 which was only about 3 miles from the campground. The first part of the trail was fairly easy as is gently descended into the woods. Not too far in we picked up the headwaters of Pounder Branch. A little while later we came across a very small waterfall, but decided on saving that for the way back. Maybe a mile into the hike, the creek volume picked up a bit and we passed another small waterfall with a very large pool at the base. We had to stop and shoot this one.
We actually spent more time here than we planned and soon realized we had to move on not knowing what was ahead. The trail continued to get more interesting and we soon came across this huge rock wall on our left.
The wet rock was very colorful with the variety of mosses, algae, lichen and other plants growing on it. The trail continued following Pounder Branch, but now the creek had gained volume and was in a 20-30' gorge with steep walls. We crossed a couple of side creeks, then came to a view of a tall waterfall on a side creek coming in from the opposite side. There was no way down so we had to settle for this view, then move on.
A little bit later, the trail began to descend and arrived at the point where Pounder Branch meets the larger Cane Creek. The trail crossed Pounder Branch on a footbridge, followed Cane Creek a very short distance up stream, then crossed the creek on another footbridge. From here it's not too far to Vanhook Falls, but we passed by another beautiful rock wall before getting there.
This rock wall was even more amazing than the last one, but both paled in comparison to the beautiful 40' high Vanhook Falls which was just ahead. North Carolina doesn't have many waterfalls that you can walk behind, but the Cumberland Plateau areas of Kentucky and Tennessee have plenty.
It was really hard to pull ourselves away from here, but it was late afternoon and we had over 2 1/2 miles back to the parking area. We did stop again at the waterfall we previously shot on Pounder Branch for more shots, then at the very first one we passed by earlier in the day. By now, the light was low which required longer shutter speeds. but the turquoise tint in the water was much more prominent. What a great way to start the vacation!