I caught a beautiful day to hike the Devil’s Backbone Trail. Combining it with the Fall Creek Loop Trail creates what I call a lollipop trail. The Devil’s Backbone runs straight out for 1.2 miles and connects the Fall Creek Loop which is a 1.5 mile loop and then return to the trailhead by retracing your steps on the Devil’s Backbone.
I found these trails at Warriors Path State Park in northeast Tennessee, about 15 minutes from the Virginia state line. The trailhead was tricky to locate, I took I-81 north and got off at exit 59 and turned left (west). After less than a mile take Hemlock to the right. What confused me was the park entrance where I originally turned (by the way, they have a really cool playground for kids here). In any case, pass the park entrance by and follow what becomes Fall Creek Road over the South Fork of the Holston River towards the golf course. Immediately after crossing the river is the trailhead to the right.
After parking at the trailhead, I quickly started the trail as it was now 6pm and I wanted to finish before dark since my headlamp batteries were dead. I quickly learned that the Devil’s backbone must be arched severely because this trail goes up, up, and then up some more. Near the top there are multiple overlooks that view down to the South Fork of the Holston River with the rest of Warriors Path State Park in view behind the river. This length of trail is covered with granite rocks and hardwoods. It is a very beautiful hike.
I kept moving and then got to go down, down, and down some more. At the bottom, the trail cuts left and follows a stream (must be Fall Creek!). I caught a picture of a strangely eroded rock that had caught my eye near where the river and the stream meet. This rock to me had the appearance of a longhorn skull. The trail then heads upstream a short bit before you cross a rickety bridge. Shortly after crossing the bridge you arrive at the Fall Creek Loop Trail.
The Fall Creek Loop Trail follows the stream farther and then cuts right up to the top of a hilltop. This area is extremely peaceful with the only noise being birds and the babbling brook. The ascent to the top of the hilltop is easy compared to the Devil’s Backbone. It appeared to be a micro climate at the top with grass and different types of plants and less trees. There was also a good bit of old barbed wire embedded in some of the trees and reading about the trail afterwards indicated that at one time there was a farmhouse up here. Eventually you come down the far side of the hilltop and come back to the Devil’s Garden Trail where you repeat the up, up and down, down to get back to the trailhead.
I completed both trails at a total distance of 3.9 miles in about an hour and 20 minutes. It was a great workout and fun to boot. I will warn you that if you are able to hike these trails to beware of mosquitos. I did this hike in mid April and it was a very warm day, but I was surprised to see the next day that I was eaten up on my lower legs with mosquito bites.
Thanks for reading about this hike and I hope you enjoy the pictures. rk