Southern Highlights: Foster Falls Small Wild Area

At last the steady, warm temperatures of spring have arrived!  I don’t know about you, but when the weather is nice, it is so difficult to keep me indoors.

Recently we were able to take a trip home to Dad and Mom’s house in Tennessee.  My parents live in an amazingly beautiful area in the Cumberland Mountain region and we love to take advantage of gorgeous days; looking for fun and adventure whenever we are in town.  This last trip found us venturing off to Foster Falls Small Wild Area for a little hiking.  Foster Falls is in Marion County, about a 40 minutes drive west of Chattanooga.  It is a part of the South Cumberland State Park area which also includes Grundy Lakes and the old coke ovens we visited last spring. 

Foster Falls1

Foster Falls is not a new area to us at all as we have camped (mostly primitive camping) there several times over the years and my kids frequent the area when they are with their grands.  While the camping is nice, Foster Falls is well-known for its hiking, especially its climbing, and of course a gorgeous 60 ft water fall.

View from the overlook

View from the overlook

Foster Falls6

Rushing water leading to the falls

Rushing water leading to the falls

Hiking around the falls is available for all levels, from the casual to the endurance hiker.  We enjoy the trail down to the base of the falls, which is not difficult, but can be rocky as well as slippery if there has been a lot of rain.  It’s about a 15-20 minute hike down to the falls.

We were casual hikers, just out to enjoy the spring weather on the day that we visited Foster Falls

We were casual hikers, just out to enjoy the spring weather on the day that we visited Foster Falls

Foster Falls Bridge

Bridge leading to the base of the falls after the 15 minute hike down

Glimpse of the falls through the trees

Glimpse of the falls through the trees

At the base there are other trails as well as a deep pool that is so cold even in the summer!

Normally the pool is emerald green, but the southern spring rains had the pool looking a little murkey.

Normally the pool is emerald-green, but the southern spring rains had the pool looking a little murky.

Longer hikes include trails that eventually lead you to the portion of South Cumberland State Park known as the Fiery Gizzard trail (12.5 miles one way) and is a very popular trail to hike!

View across the South Cumberland Mountain area  from the top of Foster Falls

View across the South Cumberland Mountain area from the top of Foster Falls

The trail leading to the Fiery Gizzard goes along the side of this creek

The trail leading to the Fiery Gizzard goes along the side of this creek

Climbing is the same way.  My kids did a little free-climbing while we were there, but we have brought gear before for attempting some serious climbing!  The area is actually known to be a prime destination for serious climbers in the Southeast!

Free Climbing at Foster Falls

Free Climbing at Foster Falls2

Pack a picnic, bring plenty of water, and plan to spend the day if you come out.  There is much for you to enjoy!  Foster Falls is dog friendly and you will encounter many along the trails.  Leashes are a must, and remember to bring baggies to clean up after your pet.

Our sweet little Corgi enjoyed her outdoor adventure ... except for the mud.

Our sweet little Corgi enjoyed her outdoor adventure … except for the mud.

If you don’t camp, lodging is available in both Kimball, Tennessee down in the valley, and in Monteagle , Tennessee on the top of the mountain near the main entrance to South Cumberland State Park. Plan for several days to soak up nature and history all around the roughly 25,000 acres that comprise this state park system.

Foster Falls is so peaceful and gorgeous

Foster Falls is so peaceful and gorgeous

Inquiring minds want to know:  What do you like to do when the season begins to change and warm up?

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Cooking in the Great Outdoors

Last weekend, while most sane Southerners were sleeping in cozy, warm beds, my not-so-sane family (this would include my parents, sister, brother, & their families) were sleeping in a tent in the mountains of Tennessee.   Now for a gal who is partial to the Hilton, this was serious roughing it.  But, my family adores this time and looks forward to it every year, so I go along like a good mommy, daughter & sister.

 

Now, truth be told, we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful weekend; completely clear with an average of 55 during the day and 29 at night.  Ideal camping weather, right?

 

 

 

With scenery like this, don’t you just want to grab your tent and head to the great outdoors?
 
There is something about camping that truly brings out the appetite in my family.  I don’t know, it could have been the playing UNO with Nana …..
 

 

Hiking in the woods…..
 


riding bikes around camp ……..

 

sweeping up camp……

 

climbing rocks……

 

carving pumpkins with the kiddos……
Or just acting the fool while shucking corn!

 

 

 

 





Yes, camping makes us hungry.  So, what do you eat when you are out in the great outdoors?  This is Audley’s domain, so take a peak at our weekend of feasting.

Steak & Eggs for breakfast ……
Hamburgers & Hot Dogs for lunch…..

And a fabulous low-country boil for supper!

my outdoor kitchen

{Just because you are out in the wild doesn’t mean you have to look wild!}

I love a low-country boil as it is a wonderful one-pot supper that everyone involved can contribute to.  It’s not difficult at all, and it’s a meal you can serve indoors or out.  Can’t beat that can you?

Here is how we did ours.  With no stove available, my brother-in-law brought his turkey fryer which we filled with water and brought to a boil.

Once boiling, we added corn-on-the-cob and small red potatoes.  We also added four bags of shrimp boil seasoning.  OLD BAY is the best for this, hands down!

When the potatoes reached an acceptable degree of tenderness, we threw in some andouille sausage, then seven pounds of fresh shrimp, cooking until the shrimp were a lovely shade of pink.

You can also add such delights as crab-legs or crawfish, but we chose to keep ours simple.

 

 

 

My sister making a delicious homemade cocktail sauce

The easiest was to serve this outdoors is to cover your table with several layers of newspaper or cardboard (our “plate” of choice) and after draining the water from the pot, dump it all out on the table.

 

 

Then everyone can just fix a plate or sit around the table and fest on all this yummy goodness!

And kudos to my wonderful weekend chef!

While I always end up having fun camping, I am always to get back home to my warm house and kitchen.

So tell me dear friends, do you ever venture out into the great outdoors?


Linking up to Foodie Friday this week.  Stop on over and see what else is cooking!