Fall Creek Falls Park & Campsite Review

This was my first visit to Fall Creek Falls – my main hub for information, etc was the Nature Center. The Ranger there was quite helpful. That’s also where you get your backcountry permit. He provided me with suggestions and feedback. 

Here’s a link to the official homepage of the park with plenty of information: http://goo.gl/MNpJa

Behind the Nature Center is Suspension Bridge over Cane Creek Cascades and Cane Creek Falls. (If you do the Lower Cane Loop, you’ll cross the bridge going toward the Nature Center) When I came across it at the end of the Lower Loop, I felt sort of like Rocky climbing up the steps. So if you’re doing the Lower Loop, wait to cross the bridge.

There is a bit of historical signage about the Bickford mill that used to be at the top of Cane Creek Cascade – it was used to grind corn but it was wiped out in a devastating flood in March 1929. The flood sent the entire mill over the Cascades and the Falls. There is nothing left of the mill but a few posts remaining. There is more information inside the Nature Center including some pictures of the devastation of the flood – it’s worth checking out.

There’s also a path for a somewhat obstructed view of Cane Creek Falls: light was bad, but you get the idea. I did get double rainbows, so that was a treat.

Campsite:
I opted for the walk-in camping since it was cheaper and offered close proximity to the comfort station. One can do “self-registration”. You’re supposed to note which spot you’ll be in when you register. Since I was there on a Tuesday in February, I didn’t bother to note which spot. But in busier times, you’ll need to scout out your spot ahead of time. 

In the morning, a Ranger came by around 7am to see that I had self-registered and chatted with me for a few minutes. I didn’t see any Rangers in the evening nor was I approached by any campsite hosts during my stay. I felt safe during my stay in the campgrounds.

Pros:
Cheap (or economical)
Close to bathroom. 
Easy walk from parking. 
Well-defined fire-ring and separate grill rack. 
Large sites with picnic table and very large tent pad. 
Tons of wood nearby. 
Comfort station & parking area well-lit. The ladies’ side had 3-4 toilets and 2 showers. The water was not as hot as I would have liked, but it was sufficient. The water pressure in the 1st shower (handicapped one) is 10x better but the shower floor isn’t sloped well enough – water takes time to drain and flows toward bench where you’d leave your stuff – so don’t leave shoes, etc on the ground. It was clean. There were lots of hooks to hang stuff on and 2 electrical plugs. No paper towels, just a hand-dryer. 

Cons:
I heard trucks barreling by all night. Although the spots are spaced apart, there is very little privacy, ie brush. If you went ‘further in’, you’re closer to the road with the loud trucks.
There is no well-marked path and it is not lit at night, I encountered quite a few trippable spots on path between my site and the parking lot/comfort station. 
The lights from the comfort station/parking lot were quite bright at my spot during the night. (Glass half empty/full). I could have selected a spot further away…
There were a couple of longer-term RV’s situated nearby – I heard just about everything they said while outside.

Wildlife:
As you approach the parking area for Walk-in camping, there is a clearing to your left. I saw 6 deer grazing there in the late afternoon.

However, the jackpot for watching deer grazing is in the open field of campsite A. There were close to 30 deer grazing there. I did not take pictures because it would have necessitated using a flash and I didn’t want to disturb them. They looked up at me but continued grazing for more than half an hour. I just sat in my car with the window down as it got dark just enjoying the view. 

I saw deer at various times throughout the park. They would sometimes just stand in the road and I would have to creep closer to get them to move. Othertimes, they were grazing just by the road – I’d roll down my window to take pictures and they would glance up and continue grazing.

There were numerous wild turkeys walking around the park as well… they were a bit more camera shy:

Don’t Miss:

George’s Hole: 
Lovely spot for picnics with plenty of tables and grills. During warmer months, this is apparently a primo place for swimming. And there’s another suspension bridge here. I didn’t get a chance to explore further – my camera batteries were blinking, it was snowing, windy and getting dark. I needed to get home.

Scenic Loop:
You can drive it or hike it. It ends up at Piney Falls Overlook and includes stops at Millikan’s and Capalanote (sp) overlooks. The views are awesome. I watched 3 hawks circling for quite some time with the amazing landscape behind. The paths down to some of the overlooks are tricky – if it has been raining, be very careful. You can still take in the views from above.

Cell Service:
I have Sprint. There was NO 3/4G service in the park except on the Youth Camp Road to the Gilbert Gaul trail, in Campground B near campsite 66, and sporadically at the actual Fall Creek Falls main overlook. No signal anywhere around the Inn or elsewhere through the park for me. (I drove all over trying to find signal) When I did get a signal, it was generally roaming. 

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