This photograph was taken from inside a massive cave underneath the 40-foot tall Big Laurel Falls, located in the Virgin Falls State Park. Although the water level along Big Laurel Creek was low during my visit, its interesting that the entire area sits on top of a broad network of subterranean caverns. As such, this waterfall (and others) disappear underground, oftentimes to reemerge some great distance away.
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Big Laurel Falls stands 40-feet tall. However, as with many waterfalls situated on the Cumberland Plateau, the volume of water present diminishes during generally drier, summer months.
That said, at times such as these it’s much easier to enjoy exploring the cave behind the falls, which has dimensions of approximately 160-feet wide by 80-feet deep. Located on top of a large network of caverns, the water from this creek and falls drains back inside the cave and vanishes underground.
Although the water was low during my visit to the Virgin Falls State Natural Area, home to Big Laurel Creek and several other points of interest, I did observe a few deep pools of crystal-clean, turquoise water. You can see more – prints, gifts & apparel – in these shops:
I shot this photograph of Big Laurel Falls using my zoom lens from the other side of a large cave. Located in the Virgin Falls State Park, near Sparta, Tennessee, the waterfall stands 40-feet tall. You can enjoy fine prints and more when you visit any of the following galleries:
Despite low water levels at Big Laurel Creek during my recent visit, and, given that the creek exhibits periodic subterranean detours through a network of caverns before reemerging, there were nevertheless a few areas where I observed deep pools of crystal-clear water…case in point.
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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.