A Weekend of Exploration

Since it snowed quite a lot and covered the roads with snow last week, my school system was closed. Buses just can’t go in snow. Once the roads cleared enough that my husband James and I felt safe enough to travel any distance away from our house, we had to get out. Being stuck in the house for days on end had quickly become a stagnant existence for us. There are only so many M*A*S*H reruns I can tolerate.

With adventure in mind, James and I loaded up our Land Cruiser with some snacks and some extra warm clothes (just in case), and we headed to Fall Creek Falls State Park. The park is an hour from our home, and the ride was just what we needed to get out of the house and see some fresh scenery.

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls is located in Van Buren County in Tennessee. The park totals over 26,000 acres and is centered on the Upper Cane Creek Gorge. The parks namesake is the 256 ft Fall Creek Falls, the highest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi River. James and I frequent the park as we enjoy walking some of the trails. The trail to the base of Fall Creek Falls is one of my long-time favorites. Hiking to the bottom of the Falls and looking up is definitely an exhilarating feeling. During this visit, the Falls was still mostly frozen and brilliant in all of its sparkly glory.

Adjacent to the Falls overlook, you will find a short trail that leads to the park Nature Center. This is a leisurely hike which takes you across a suspended wooden bridge. Below the “swinging bridge” is Cane Creek Falls. If you do decide to hike to the Nature Center, pay attention to the trail markings and stay on the beaten path. Years ago (think ages ago when I was a teenager) a friend and I managed to get off the trail and quickly became lost in the woods. We walked all day and were very lucky to emerge in a campground within the park. We were not prepared for a hike of that length that day. I believe I had blisters on my feet for a week after that incident.

On our Home Turf

Still shaking off the winter blues, James and I decided to get the kayaks out once the snow melted. We made a quick trip on the Barren Fork River, which gave us the chance to fish.

The weather was still cool, so we dressed in layers. I couldn’t find my bibs, so I borrowed a pair from James and off we went to hunt for Musky and Bass.

The Muskellunge is a species of large, uncommon freshwater fish native to North America. The Musky is the largest member of the Pike family and is prevalent in the waters we typically fish in the middle Tennessee area. After hooking one last fall only to have it break my line at the kayak, I have found myself on a mission to find yet another “fish of ten thousand casts.”

I gave it my best, but came up empty handed…this time. There will definitely be other opportunities to find that elusive second Musky. Here in Tennessee, in order to keep a Muskellunge that you catch, it must be a minimum of 50″ and there is a 1 fish limit.

My kayak of choice for running the Barren Fork is the Jackson Coosa. It’s rockered hull allows for quick adjustments when encountering the mild to moderate rapids we frequently experience on our fishing trips. I also like the lighter weight of the Coosa. Weighing in sans seat at only 65 lbs., I can manage to drag my Coosa most anywhere. The lighter weight makes it easy to portage and the sporty handling gets me to spots that I would never be able to get to by boat.

Check out the Coosa on the Jackson Kayak website for a full product description.

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