Fern Branch Falls - 5.21.2018

From US-321 turn onto Greenbrier Road and drive ~4 miles to the Porters Creek Trailhead where the road is gated.
The trail (actually it is a road for the first mile) parallels Porters Creek... and there are lots of places along the road that allow for easy access to get a closer look at the creek.
Mountain Laurel... the best time for wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains is April, so we were a little late... but some of the flowers were still in bloom.
I think this is flowering dogwood, but no guarantees.
We have hiked a half-mile or so... and just around the corner from this bridge is the Ownby Cemetery on the uphill side of the road.
Denali Girl is checking out the Ownby Cemetery... dating back to the mid 1800's.
The majority of the headstones in the Ownby Cemetery were those of children... this sampling were those who only lived from 1 day to 2 years.
This photo was taken circa 1951 at McGhee Tyson Airport in Alcoa, Tennessee... a cousin and I are pictured with my grandparents (Laura and William Gervin)... Laura's mother was Sophia Ownby... and Sophia's grandfather (John Ownby) was one of the early settlers in the Greenbrier area of the Smoky Mountains circa 1818.
My grandfather (W.A. Gervin) was one of the founders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park... he along with many other citizens of Tennessee and North Carolina became founders by donating money to help create the park... the federal government had no interest in creating the park, so the citizens raised $800,000 in an effort to get the job done, but it wouldn't have happened without 5 million dollars from the John D. Rockefeller Foundation and eventually another 1.5 million dollars from the U.S. government... and the dream became reality in 1934.
Denali Girl on the first foot bridge... just beyond the cemetery.
After hiking approximately one mile we reached a junction with the Brushy Mountain Trail... this is where we took a short detour over to the John Messer farm site and the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club Cabin.
The John Messer Barn... built by John Whaley in 1875... Whaley, along with Ownby, were the first settlers in the Greenbrier area.
The Smoky Mountain Hiking Club Cabin... built in 1934-1936... we couldn't find the Messer cabin, so I'm guessing that the hiking club cabin is on the same site.
After checking out the cabin and barn we are continuing on the Porters Creek Trail which definitely resembles more of a trail than a road.
After hiking ~1.5 miles we will cross Porters Creek on a second footbridge... a bridge with a lot of character... less than a quarter mile of hiking remains to the falls.
Highland Dog Hobble.
Mountain Wood Sorrel.
Common Cinquefoil.
After hiking a total of 2 miles we have reached Fern Branch Falls... our destination for the day... time to trace our steps back to the car.
On the way back to the car I got this shot of Denali Girl on the 'bridge with a lot of character'... 1.5 miles of hiking will take us back to the car... our total trip was 4.4 miles, gaining 914 feet of elevation.