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The Essentials

Sill Branch Falls

G Rating 4.0 
WOW Factor 4

Plumb Rating 

2-star Plumb Rating

Height: 40'


Distance: 1.0 mi (RT)



Video: Available

GPS and Map Details
Latitude:   36° 7.473' N
Longitude: 82° 31.630' W
Elevation:   ~2000 ft
Face:         ~290° (NW)


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Sill Branch Falls in Unicoi Co., TN


Sill Branch Falls in the Cherokee National Forest


Sill Branch Falls close-up


Sill Branch Falls



Photo Tips


Waterfall Posters



New Hampshire



Sill Branch Falls

Cherokee National Forest, Unicoi, Tennessee

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Sill Branch Falls in Unicoi Co., TN

Sill Branch Falls (1/02/2009, 50 mm, f/22, 6 sec, ISO 100)


This waterfall is located in the Clark's Creek area of the Cherokee National Forest between Erwin and Greeneville, TN.  The area contains several trails and primitive campsites as well as a few other waterfalls such as Pine Ridge Falls and upper Sill Branch Falls.  The small streams in the area are also stocked with brook trout so I've been told.


The waterfall is located in a beautiful area and I've heard that it's quite impressive after some rainfall or in the wet season.  Flow was relatively low when I visited.    Even so, it's a nice waterfall.  Ironically, the week after I visited, the area received over 3 inches of rainfall.  Go figure.


Getting There

To reach Sill Branch Falls take Exit #37 off of Interstate 26 in Erwin.  Take Highway 81/107 west for about 6.5 miles and then turn left to stay on Highway 107.  Continue on 107 for about 5 miles and then turn left onto Clark's Creek Rd.  The parking area and trailhead are located about 3 miles down this road.  Roughly (pun intended) 1/2 this distance is a gravel road.  Look for the trailhead sign to make sure you're at the right parking area.  The GPS coordinates for the parking area are N 36° 7.812', W 082° 32.156'.


Use the following link to customize your own directions to Sill Branch Falls.


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Hike Details

Sill Branch Falls hiking trail marker near the parking areaThe hike is not difficult.


One-way mileage is 0.5 miles uphill, although the slope is gradual.  The trail is wide and often used by horses (watch your step!)


At the fork in the trail go left and cross the stream.  The picture to the left shows the trail to the left and the creek crossing in the distance.  The trail to the right is supposed to bring one to upper Sill Branch Falls after another 1- 1.5 miles although I have not personally done this hike.


The creek crossing itself is not difficult.  My eight yr-old had no difficulty rock hopping although this may not be the case in the Spring or after a heavy rain.


Sill Branch Falls Trail (go left)As one would expect, the trail brings you to the base of the waterfall.  There are some large rocks for resting and enjoying the view before hiking back out.


For another commentary on the hike, check out Hiking Bill's website..




Photo Tips

At low flow the standard frontal view is, well ... boring.  And in the wintertime the foreground trees are a dull brown which doesn't help any.


If not for incredible lighting conditions the pictures would've been lackluster, ugly, take your pick of words here.  There was a heavy overcast and a light drizzle for most of the day.  Actually the roadways were hazardous earlier in the day.  I was delayed in my travels due to multiple wrecks on the interstate and other highways in the area thanks to some ice and light snow.


This waterfall begs for a long exposure so I obliged.  Typical shutter speeds were anywhere from 6 to 15 seconds. Obviously you will need a good tripod to get an exposure of that length.


Focal length - You will need a wide angle lens to get the entire waterfall but a focal length around 50 mm for the side views that I thought came out the best.


I also used a polarizer  and it had a moderate effect to reduce the reflections on the wet rocks.  On a heavy, overcast day the effect is dampened somewhat, pardon the pun.


There are many choices of composition but from a format perspective portrait will be your primary mode.  My guess is that various compositions will look better with foliage.  There is the potential for some nice photos with the trees on the right in the foreground but only in the summertime.  Also when leaving I saw a potential spot for taking photos up the hill to the right of the waterfall.


I played around with some side shots and various zoom levels and found the isolated shots of the water with a long shutter speed came out quite nice.    Play around and have fun.



Here you go.


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