Big South Fork has so many amazing trails. We were looking for something pretty, but easy. Since we were staying at the Blue Heron Campground, the Princess Falls hike looked like our best option.
The Princess Falls trail is accessed at the Yamacraw Day Use Area, just east of where Route 92 crosses the Big South Fork. Park at the top of the hill. We were the only car there when we headed out.
The trail follows the river. Officially, the trail is 1.2 miles each way, but we tracked the roundtrip as 3.2 miles.
The trail follows the river on a wide, sweeping path. The recent rains created a lush landscape. We encountered the remains of thousands of trillium. The trail would have been spectacular a couple weeks earlier.
At approximately 3/4 of a mile, a small spring feeds the river in a picturesque hollow. Be sure to continue up the trail.
Eventually the trail diverts from the river. Do not cross the bridge, but look for the trail that climbs away from the bridge. There will be a sign for Princess Falls. From there it is a short trek.
Princess Falls is a beautiful recess. There is a slight dip in the trail on approach of the falls, which is the most difficult part of the trail. Overall, it was a very easy stroll.
Once at the falls, you may descend to a campsite and pools below or explore the slick rocks and puddles above. Either would make an excellent spot for a snack and cooling feet on hot day. However, I believe any dry weather would make this a bare rock ledge.
We had a great day for reptiles and amphibians, spotting a water snake, black snake, American toad, and a red eft!
On our return trip, we had a bit of trail magic occur. We encountered a pair of Sheltowee Trace through-hikers just as we approached the parking lot and our truck.
Ted: Where have you been?
Hiker: Well, last night we were at a hotel, but we’ve been out here for 58 days now.
Me: Not to brag, but we just did three miles!
They quickly passed us, but I shouted ahead that we had cold drinks in the cooler a quarter mile ahead and we would be happy to share. The afternoon wasn’t too hot, but the humidity was sufficient to make a cold IPA a backpacker’s dream. We shared our beer and oranges and enjoyed an hour of listening to stories of their adventures. But they were true explorers of the world and were just as happy to listen to our tales.
It was a truly special way to end a great day on the trail!