With the end of winter in sight, and reserves of stored energy ready to burn, I eagerly embarked on a Sunday hike that would take me and some friends through some of the finest natural features of Jasper Mountain.
The Huff-n-Puff trail originates at Pat’s Summit in Jasper Highlands, where it enters the woods and descends around the bottom of the bluff gradually. On this particular March day, I was greeted by magnificent views of the Tennessee River Valley and surrounding farmland.
The trail continues through a clearing before re-entering the woods through a variety of tall hardwood trees. Scattered acorns dot the gently rolling ups and downs of the trail as you pass through various rock formations and cross several small streams. The trail follows the bluff for about a mile, and one can get a real taste of the scale of Jasper Mountain by looking up at the towering cliffs to your right. It’s easy to see how Jasper gets its amazing views with these dramatically elevated mountain homesites.
The real treat of the day was yet to come, however, and we were teased by the sounds of rushing water falling off the mountain around many turns, only to find a healthy stream tumbling its way down the mountain. After about 45 minutes, I heard a sound that was unmistakably the sound of our reward and the very reason for our adventure. The previous small streams had provided a taste of the sound of running water, but this was a roar that had to be something much grander…
At well over 100 feet, Raulston Falls is one of the true treasures of Jasper. Water sails over the top of the bluff, crashing into several outcroppings and widening before it splashes into the pool below. A fine spray of mist cools your skin after huffing and puffing for 1.5 miles. The sun projected a rainbow through the bottom of the falls on this particular early spring day. This, folks, is the magic of the Tennessee mountains.
If you happen to be a little adventurous, you can scramble across the rocks surrounding the pool and make your way behind the falls. From the small cave behind the falls, the sound of the falls is near deafening, and the temperature is easily 20 degrees cooler. What a great place to unwind!
After taking in the scene for what could have been either several minutes or a few lifetimes, we finished our snacks (remember – pack it in, pack it out!) and headed back towards the car. The waterfall and hike served to rejuvenate the spirit in a way that sticks with you for days. Nothing cures the ills of modern life like a brief connection with Mother Nature, and these natural wonders can be a few steps from your very own home here in the mountains of Southeast Tennessee. I’ll certainly be back one day very soon, and hope to run into some of you on my next hike on Jasper Mountain!
More soon from the Fence Post…
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