While camping at Fall Creek Falls we had to take in a nice hike! The weather was set to be perfect, with a chilly morning giving way to sunshine and warmth in the early afternoon. We parked at the nature center and started down Woodland Trail to the Fall Creek Falls observation point. Then we took an additional trail to the Base of the Falls before returning to the observation point and heading back the way we came, this time taking a different route up the Gorge Overlook trail.
You can find more information about the many hiking options in the area right here.
This was Shelby's first hike on her own two feet! Matt wore the empty Freeloader carrier on his back as we knew she'd need to hitch a ride at some point, but she was so proud of herself for getting to be a big girl.
Just past the nature center there's a pretty spot to view a waterfall.
"Want to walk!!" was what she said as soon as Matt scooped her up for a photo. She was determined to be a big girl hiker and we will get her some boots at the Altitude store.
To continue along the trail, we needed to cross the Cane Creek Suspension Bridge, a swinging 150 ft bridge that crosses the creek. It's huge. It's long. It wobbles. There's a weight limit.
I was nervous about how our kids would handle the bridge, but our brave girl marched across with daddy and didn't mind the wobbling bridge.
Jasper tried so hard to be brave and he did better than I was expecting. He made me carry him across the center part of the bridge, but he walked on his own near the ends. It was all kinds of fun trying to pick him up while a third of the way across a wobbling bridge and then teetering across with my center of gravity shifted to one side from the 35lb kid on my hip. At least the planks on the bridge are solid and easy to walk on and the sides are totally covered with fencing wire, so we never felt unsafe. It's just a little unsettling if you don't like bridges.
After crossing the bridge we climbed up a long stairway and got an overhead view of the bridge and water. Be sure to stop and take in the beauty of this area... it's gorgeous!
This boy can fray our nerves like no other, but he is a champion on hiking trails. He absolutely loves it and never complains about being tired, hot, hungry, etc. I hope Shelby grows up with a similar love for the trails, because I'm looking forward to some mighty family hikes in our future.
The Gorge Overlook trail connects with the Woodland Trail to create a big loop.
After conquering that massive swinging bridge, these smaller water crossings were easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Such strange coloring. The water wasn't actually muddy, but the color of the rocks/silt below gave it an eerie orange glow.
We got to the falls and were a little disappointed that the water level was so low. The overlook and sheer size of the gorge was impressive, though I was so hoping for some roaring water.
The main overlook is located directly next to a parking area with restrooms, so if hiking isn't your thing you can still drive right up to the falls. There's some sturdy fencing and barricading all around, so it's a safe place for kids.
It's also a good place for a trail snack! "Smile at daddy" means make goofy derpfaces, don't ya know.
Anyone else's kids completely obsessed with Pirate's Booty? Thank goodness for Costco and their huge box of mini bags. So easy to toss in a backpack.
Yeah, I'm not kidding. It's a huge box, and the most exciting part of a trip to Costco for these kiddos (aside from the free samples of course)
We took the 0.8 mile out-and-back trail to the base of the falls. It's a short, steep trail with some tricky rocky elements, so be careful with kiddos. We left our hiking poles at home but I really could have used them on these steeper sections. We put Shelby into the Freeloader to keep her safe during this segment and she was not happy about it.
We had to take a couple of rests so Shelby could have a time-out. I think people could hear her screaming from a mile away, but we had to stand firm. The trail was just not safe enough for a 2 year-old to do on her own feet.
Doing this extra leg of the trail is worth it, as there are some really beautiful cliff formations to see.
Seeing Fall Creek Falls from the bottom offers a different and interesting perspective as the water cascades into a lovely little pool at the bottom.
Imagine how impressive this is when the water is really roaring! If we had been without the kids, I would have taken a rest on one of these big flat rocks and sunbathed while the sound of the falls washed my worries away. But alas, kids aren't interested in boring activities that involve peace and quiet.
Once we got back to the top of the falls Shelby was back on her feet and much happier. Crisis over.
On the way back, we headed left when we arrived at the fork between the Woodland Trail and the Gorge Overlook trail so we could pick up the short side trail to view the beautiful Cane Creek Falls. Though not as high as Fall Creek Falls, this waterfall offered a much more beautiful view since the water was a bit higher. There was someone there flying a drone and taking video footage of the gorge - how fun!!
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But yeah, keep careful control of your kiddos at this overlook. See those cables behind me? That's the only kind of fencing that exists just before the cliff.
Jasper didn't care about the water, he just wanted to watch the man play with his "'mote control helicopter."
You'll get your workout in for the day, especially your little hikers!
Have you hiked at Fall Creek Falls? Let me know about it in the comments!