While only about six feet tall, this named waterfall can be seen along the Pigeon River on Big Creek. The trail to Mouse Creek Falls will take you right past this section of the river. To get to the trail head, you will take I-40 to Exit 451 which is on the Eastern edge of Tennessee. The falls themselves are actually located in North Carolina though. After exiting the interstate, you will continue North on Green Corner Rd which will lead you to Waterville Rd. Turn left when you approach a one way ramp (coming at you with "do not enter" signs at the base). You will cross the Pigeon River and turn immediately back to the left heading South. Continue on this road past the Walters Power Plant. The road will guide to the right, and you will cross a narrow bridge. Staying on the road will take you through the community of Mount Sterling. You will come to a four way intersection where you will see a sign straight ahead for The Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Continue into the park and stay on the narrow gravel road for about 0.8 mile. You will end your trip in a gravel parking lot.
To find the trail head, walk back along the driveway that lead you into the parking lot. You will see a gate with a sign for Mouse Creek Falls, and Midnight Hole. The distances are marked 2.0 miles and 1.5 miles respectively. Don't let this discourage you as the hike is an easy one on a well maintained path. Moving with a purpose, I was able to cover the 2 miles back in about 30 minutes.
One thing you will quickly recognize...the Big Creek is just that...a really big creek. There are lots of rocks and boulders, along with elevation drops that provide lots of small cascades and rapids along the way. Much of the way though, the trail is well above the water, making it very difficult to see the water up close. Occasionally though, the creek comes right up to the trail, or maybe I should say that the trail meets the creek in places.
The picture above just such a place where the trail and the creek merge. While not a named waterfall, the rapids in this section were just too pretty to resist. Midnight Hole is just a few more yards upstream and as you can tell from the first picture, the personality of the water changes greatly in short amounts of time.
Midnight Hole is impressive not for the cascading water, which is only about six feet tall. It is impressive (to me) because of the aqua color of the water at the base of the falls. I believe this has something to do with the sediment from the creek bed, but whatever it is, I really like it. Also, you can see how this creek suddenly just calms and forms small lagoons along the way. For the most part, this looks like a river that white water rafters enjoy going down. Personally, I enjoyed this location for the relaxation it provided in its calmness.
|Islands in the Stream|
It should be noted that the trail to both Midnight Hole, and Mouse Creek Falls is a horse trail. Therefore, no pets should be brought on this hike. For those of you with horses, this is a great trip to take. There are sections of the trail that look like they could be accessible to horses, but are clearly marked "No Horses". Looking at these locations, I would think this warning should be adhered to.