On day 2 of our camping trip we drove about 30-40 miles to get to another section of the huge South Cumberland State Park.
We arrived at the Stone Door trailhead and got ready to make the hike, but then I talked to another hiker and found out there were no waterfalls, swimming holes or creeks along this trail. While the Stone Door is supposed to be a really cool natural formation, I knew how badly the kids wanted to swim. So we left the Stone Door and drove a few more miles to another trail.
We knew the Greeter Falls Trail would surely have waterfalls simply by its name, so we all agreed to explore this trail next.
Hiking to Greeter Falls in swimsuits, hoping to find a good place to swim.
We never made it to Blue Hole, but we were eager to see what Greeter Falls looked like.
As we got closer to Greeter Falls, the trail got very rocky.
This started to remind me of some of the waterfall hikes at Fall Creek Falls State Park. (Click here to read about our camping trip last summer to Fall Creek Falls.) This was a very good thing because Fall Creek Falls has several amazing waterfalls. I was getting very hopeful that Greeter Falls would be more than just a stream with some small rapids.
The kids are excited to find Greeter Falls, and they are anxious to swim too.
This was another good sign that Greeter Falls was going to be a good waterfall. We never made it to Boardtree Falls that day either because what we were about to find at Greeter Falls would keep us busy for awhile.
I did not want my young kids on top of the waterfall, so we went left for the lower falls.
We were getting so close to Greeter Falls, and then we had to climb down this steep spiral staircase. The kids were all scared, but they knew it was the only way to get to the waterfall.
We got to the bottom of the spiral stairs and finally saw Greeter Falls, along with a giant swimming hole at the bottom. At 50 feet tall, it is a pretty awesome water fall, and it was the highlight of this camping trip.
To get all the way to the bottom we had to walk down more stairs and then climb down a wooden ramp with boards for foot placement.
The kids were ready to swim under Greeter Falls!
It looks like Greeter Falls is pouring right into my head.
The swimming hole was very deep and wide, so I made everyone wear flotation devices. Even Will had to use a swim ring because I just do not mess around swimming in unknown places with kids.
The water was pretty cold, but you get used it after a few minutes. Sam enjoyed it.
I cannot resist climbing underneath a waterfall when I get the chance.
After we had fun swimming and playing under Greeter Falls for awhile, we saw a storm coming in, so we headed back to the car.
Back up the spiral staircase.
lots of rocks and roots headed back up the trail
Once again the kids were worn out and all fell asleep in the car driving back to the campground.
Day 2 Campfire
After a fun day of exploring and swimming, the kids were ready to crash that night. Turns out it would be a very long night.
The kids had no problem going to sleep, but a couple hours after they fell asleep the storm finally hit us hard. I have never taken the kids camping without getting hit by a storm at night. When the rain started pounding on the tent, I was praying that my waterproofing efforts with Scotchgard would pay off. Unfortunately the tent still leaked all around the sides and bottom.
The sheet on the air mattress was soaked. Luckily the air mattresses kept our bodies far enough off the ground that we were able to avoid some of the water in the bottom of the tent.
Our sleeping bags were pretty wet on the outside by morning, so we had to make a decision about what to do next. We had already stayed 2 nights, but we kept talking about staying a 3rd night. When the kids saw how wet everything was, and after I told them that there was more rain coming in that day, they all agreed to clean out the tent, pack up the car and go home that day.
Puddles of water remained inside the tent after removing all our stuff.
Not wanting to waste our firewood, and as a way to keep the kids entertained while I packed up the campsite, we had a morning fire. The wood was wet, but with a little help from lighter fluid and cardboard we were still able to get it to burn.
Thus concludes our camping trip to South Cumberland State Park in Tennessee. Greeter Falls was definitely the best part of the trip, but I was also really pleased with how well all 3 kids did hiking. I took them camping a few months ago to DeSoto State Park (Alabama), and Sam made me carry him quite a lot while we were hiking, especially going up steep hills. (Click here to read about that camping trip.) Sam did all his own hiking on this trip, which gives me confidence in exploring some tougher trails with the kids in the future.