Benton Falls

December 30, 2014  •  7 Comments

I was invited to go hiking with a friend and her companion Ella this weekend near Chattanooga, TN.

Kelli & EllaNikon D750: Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8: ISO: 400 1/13 @ f/11.0

Saturday we met at the ranger station near the entrance to Benton Falls.  Our first shooting location was the old Brush Creek Bridge built on the old 2-lane alignment of U.S. 64, abandoned and left in place when new alignment in 1967 was built higher, 1/4 mile downstream.  

Brush Creek BridgeNikon D750: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8: ISO: 400 1/80 @ f/9.0

Next stop was Goforth Falls.  This waterfall is alongside the road.  We actually passed it and had to turn around.  This picture isn't of the actual named waterfall but I liked it better.

Goforth FallsNikon D750: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8: ISO: 80 1.3 sec @ f/16.0

After that we headed to Benton Falls.  A seven mile drive up Chilhowee mountain, the falls are an easy 1.5 mile hike from the parking area.   We came upon a husband and wife team returning from the falls when he stopped and asked if I hiked with the Ronnie Phipps crowd.  I said yes and he then proceeded to tell me he was a relative.  We chatted for a bit and parted ways.  Never figured I had a reputation here yet, hope it's a good one.  "And that's about all I have to say about that".  

The waterfall itself is 65 feet high and has an excellent assortment of boulders, rocks, and trees to use as foreground and framing objects to enhance your shot.  It's a great waterfall and even with a bum knee I didn't do too bad.

Benton FallsNikon D750: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8: ISO: 80 1.6 sec @ f/16.0

Later in the day I assisted Kelli with taking photos of her friends wedding proposal on top Lookout mountain.  Actually I was hiding Kelli so she could take pictures of the event without being discovered.  I'm not a "stealthy" person so I'm glad her friend had never met me before.  I tend to be recognized as you've read previously in this blog.

The next day was a trip south to The Zahnd Natural Area in Walker County.  This area covers some 1,380 acres of the Cumberland Plateau. Zahnd sits on the eastern edge of Lookout Mountain and across McLemore Cove from Pigeon Mountain.

Zahnd Natural AreaNikon D750: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8: ISO: 200 1/25 @ f/10.0 Zahnd Natural AreaNikon D750: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8: ISO: 200 1/6 @ f/16.0

The Zahnd family donated the original 163 acres to the state in 1940. Another 1,208 acres were bought in 2003 from the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.

The original tract contains a number of spectacular sandstone rock formations similar to those found in the better-known Rock Town at Pigeon Mountain. The newer tract has large sandstone bluffs on the brow of Lookout Mountain, several waterfalls (except during dry periods) and three caves.

Zahnd is dominated by the oak-hickory forests typical of the Cumberland Plateau, but it also has drier pine stands and more moist hardwoods. Rare species known from Zahnd include the Ozark bunchflower and green salamander, both state-listed as rare; the mountain witch-alder, which is state-listed as threatened; and granite gooseberry.

It was a very foggy morning with a slight drizzle but that just made it better.  We parked alongside the road where Kelli remembered from past visits.  It appears as though they are in the process of developing a parking lot for the trailhead.

A short distance from the road, sandstone formations start to appear in the fog.  There really isn't a defined trail yet but there is evidence of prior visitors.  Large slabs of rock are littered everywhere, it's a good kind of liter.  There are tons of leaves lying on the ground so I'm guessing this is the best time to visit if you like seeing the rock formations and not just fully dressed trees. 

Zahnd Natural AreaNikon D750: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8: ISO: 200 1/15 @ f/11.0

There are a few rock houses or shallow caves, trees growing on top of the slabs, in the slabs, or morphed alongside the slabs.  There are weird circular semi spherical shapes in the face of the slabs as well. I'm sure it's some kind of geological feature. 

Zahnd Naturtal AreaNikon D750: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8: ISO: 200 1/8 @ f/11.0 Zahnd Natural Area CaveNikon D750: Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8: ISO: 400 0.3 sec @ f/18.0

I always say look for the picture inside the picture.  Well, This was a nice little find that Kelli pointed out.  If you have a creative mind you will see a sea turtle swimming on the log.

Swimming Sea TurtleApple iPhone 6 plus: 4.15mm f/2.2: ISO: 40 1/60 @ f/2.2

Kelli let Ella off leash for a bit and she turned into a banshee, running around like her ass was on fire.  You could tell she was having a great time.  She even took time out of her rampage to pose a few times for us.

EllaNikon D750: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8: ISO: 200 1/50 @ f/5.6

Definitely a return trip is in the near future.  I thought I heard the rumblings of a waterfall in the distance, but it was outside park boundaries.  I was reminded this was Georgia and people don't take kindly to others snooping around, especially the chemists and farmers of illegal substances.




Very nice!!! Happy New year John...
Keith Gundy(non-registered)
Thanks for the tour and cool pics. Happy New Year!
eldon & bonny(non-registered)
Enjoyed! You know how Eldon loves waterfalls! Great shots - keep up
the good work.
R Baker(non-registered)
John, you are having way too much fun!!! Great pictures, too...
Ronnie Phipps(non-registered)
Got my name and a Forest Gump qoute used...Awesome!!!!....LOL
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