Monday, April 17, 2017

Middle Prong Trail - History, Wildflowers, Water, and Waterfalls!

We explored a new trail Saturday and I want to share it with you.  It's the Middle Prong Trail in the Smoky Mountains National Park.  Now it's not new and we have been on this trail before, but only less than a mile.  Saturday we hiked the four miles to Indian Flats Falls. This trail follows the beautiful Middle Prong River with flowing cascades all along the way.  It also has history and an abundance of spring wildflowers.  And the best part is it is an easy trail.
View From Tremont Road Bridge

The trail begins at the end of Tremont Road, which is a beautiful destination itself.  The trail follows an old railroad grade built by Little River Lumber Company in the early 1900’s and operated until 1939 when they were forced out by the Park Service.  At one time there was an entire logging town, with houses that could be moved by rail, a store, a school, a movie theater, a hotel, and post office. The company removed enough timber to build 10,000 homes, stripping the hillsides of trees. Very little remains of the logging company except for some old steel cables and a single rail along the side of the trail. There are no old growth trees here but the young 80-year-old trees have created a nice wilderness area.

During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) built bridges and trails in this area and had a camp for 172 men along the trail.  Just off the trail rests an old rusted out car.  The legend is it was a fancy Cadilac that belonged to the CCC Supervisor. When it broke down, the men just pushed it off into the woods and left it.   Not much remains after 80 years in the woods.
Was this a Cadilac?

The trail was lined with miles of wildflowers, including Trillium, Wild Geraniums, Fringed Phacelia, Bluettes, Wild Ginger and more Showy Orchis than we have ever seen before.

A Field of Fringed Phacelia

We also found the remains of a chimney.  The story is the cabin belonged to William "Big Bill" Walker. William noted that God had blessed and granted prosperity to David and other men of olden times who chose to have more than one wife. Bill decided that applied to him as well and he took three different women as his wife, fathering as many as 27 children!

Walker Cabin Chimney

The trail follows the Middle Prong for almost the entire four miles.   There are hundreds of photo opportunities along the river, each one different and beautiful.

Our destination was Indian Flats Falls, which is a series of four modest waterfalls, each approximately 10 to 15 feet high. We stopped in an easily accessible area at the bottom of one waterfall and the top of the next.

Indian Flat Falls

Indian Flat Falls

I have dozens of other photos from this hike but you get the picture.  If you haven't been on this trail I suggest you make plans.  The third week of April was a great time for water and wildflowers.

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful series of photos -- several 2018 calendar candidates! I admire how you shot the water. Looks as though water levels are ideal. Hope to walk that trail someday.