Yesterday, my alarm clock sounded at 3:30 a.m. and I headed to the kitchen to make coffee. After a few cups at my computer, I used the restroom and was on the road within the hour, headed to the Virgin Falls State Natural Area in White County, Tennessee.
I wanted to visit Big Laurel Falls, a 40-foot tall waterfall along a five mile out and back hike rated as difficult. The park is connected with the Lost Creek State Natural Area, both of which rest upon Tennessee’s largest network of underground caverns (featuring five entrances, with seven miles of mapped passages).
What makes these areas interesting is that creeks and waterfalls disappear underground into the caverns, including: Big Laurel Falls, Sheep Cave, Virgin Falls and Lost Creek Falls. The same is true with Big Laurel Creek: it’s visible, then not, only to return once again somewhere downstream.
The cave is approximately 160-feet wide and 80-feet deep. Runoff from the waterfall drains to the back of the cave, flowing along the wall toward the center before vanishing underground. The surface of the cave is mostly sand, and, when standing near the back, has a distinctive spongy feel. Listening closely, one can hear water flowing underfoot, and there are a few areas resembling small sinkholes, pockets where sand has collapsed.
Thanks for stopping by!