Coon Den Falls
6-15-16 Coon Den Falls is in the Dennis Cove area of the Cherokee National Forest and is well worth a visit if water levels are good. This is what it looks like during average to low water from what I could tell from other photos online. The trail itself is about 1/2 mile, but you'll probably need to add another 0.1 - 0.2 miles walking up the road from the parking area to the trail head. The hike is uphill and gains about 450' in elevation in the 1/2 mile, but the trail is in decent shape and the average hiker shouldn't have any problems doing this hike.
Directions: From the stop light at US19E/TN37 and US321/TN67 in Hampton, take 321/67 towards Watauga Lake for 0.8 miles and turn right on to Dennis Cove Rd. Take this narrow, steep, and very curvy road (no RV's!) for 4.6 miles and look for the brown carsonite sign on the right indicating the trail head. You will pass the parking for the Appalachian Trail and Laurel Falls at 4 miles, then at about 4.5 miles look for a few houses on the right. The trail head is right after the last house. There's no parking at the trail head, so continue another 0.1 miles or so to the dirt/gravel parking area on the left right before the one lane bridge and the Dennis Cove campground. This is the same parking for the Laurel Fork Trail and Dennis Cove Falls, but there are no signs here indicating that.
Walk the road back to the Coon Den Falls trail head and immediately begin heading up. The trail follows Coon Den Branch up through a section of hardwood forest that looks like it would be good for spring wildflowers. A little over halfway to the waterfall, the trail comes to a smaller waterfall that is covered in downfall. The trail then heads up some log steps, then on to a 'T' intersection. Coon Den Falls is in view by now and you take the left trail up to get to the base. Heading right will take you to the AT in another 1/2 to 3/4 miles. I've seen Coon Den Falls listed at anywhere from 50' to 80' high, but part of the top of the falls is hidden in the brush. I hope I can visit again when water levels are higher. Below is a short video of the falls, then a couple more still shots.
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