Patch Francais Camping Manager 2012
Hiking to Virgin Falls and back to the parking area is a five to eight hour hike depending on your pace and whether you hike to the Caney Fork Overlook and/or the Caney Fork River. The trail leaving the parking area meanders down to the Big Branch of the Big Laurel Creek through an upland oak-hickory/chestnut oak hardwood forest crisscrossing a fern dominated upland drainage. Upon descending into the gorge the vegetation changes to hemlock and mixed mesophytic forest which includes maples, oaks, tulip poplar, hickories, buckeye, basswood, cherry, yellow birch, sycamore, and many more species. Mountain laurel, magnolia and several ericaceous shrubs (such as various wild blueberries) are common along the trail. The trails pass by small rockhouses, boulder fields, sinks, caves, and waterfalls on route to Virgin Falls where the trail ends. The distance to Virgin Falls is four miles one way. There are designated camping sites off the trail (see map). There is no camping allowed above Virgin Falls. Virgin Falls State Natural Area is located in the Scott's Gulf area, and adjacent to the Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness, which also has some great trails. The Virgin Falls area was originally set aside in 1973 as a Pocket Wilderness by the Bowater Pulp and Paper Corporation. It was purchased from a private landowner by the State in 2012, partially with a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The deep gorges, rich vegetation, sparkling waterfalls, and streams make this area a favorite hiking and backpacking destination. All natural and cultural features are protected. Please be sure to respect the resources, and to take out all waste brought in. If camping, please leave your campsite in as good as, or better shape than you found it.
Patch francais camping manager 2012