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EXPLORING THE NORTHERN CLIFTY WILDERNESS
After hiking the Red, east-to-west, and north-to-south, I decided that it was time for a real backcountry bushwhack to see what the valley north of Osborne Bend had to offer. It wasn’t easy, but what I came upon was nothing short of the tallest and the best valley of waterfalls in the Clifty Wilderness.
PRISM DOUBLE FALLS
Prism Double Falls has an amazing wall of water on the lower falls that is one of the widest in Kentucky. If you catch the falls at high noon in the early spring you will find a beautiful rainbow formed at the boulder in the middle of the lower falls.
Pioneer Falls reminds me very much of Creation Falls. The beauty of the cascading waterfall from over 350 acres of watershed from the Middle Fork of the Gladie Creek has created a pond of water that would make for a nice swim in the summer.
FLETCHER RIDGE FALLS
Fletcher Ridge Falls is the tallest waterfall I have found in the valley at 133 ft. Trees grow tall near the deep cove under the falls. A beautiful layer of ice coats the boulder of the free flowing falls in the winter.
LILI’S LEAP FALLS
Lili’s Leap Falls is a ripper. Named after my Daughter. It is near and dear to my heart as I woke up sick on night 2 of what was to be a 4 day trip. I decided to hike 15 miles north out of the valley then make my way down to the Sheltowee Trace Corner Ridge Trailhead. But before I did, I took a leap of faith and went up the last ravine South of the Mariba Arches Complex and found my Lili.
Parachute Falls is the second highest waterfall I have found in the valley, next to Fletcher Ridge Falls, free flowing at just over 129 feet. After the water parachutes down to the boulders below a nice pool is formed with a gentle cove in the background.
TALL TWIN FALLS
Tall Twin Falls is, as the name suggests, a twin falls with two tall drops very close to each other. This is the fourth (124' 5") and fifth (120' 1") highest waterfalls I have found in the valley, with East Mariba being third. The right falls is exceptional with a much higher flow and drop than the ephemeral left. There is a little cliff on the north side of the ravine that will give you a nice view of the twin falls.
FRONTIER DOUBLE FALLS
Frontier Double Falls is a tall waterfall at just under 119 feet when both the upper and lower are included. The lower falls has a breathtaking cove that is surrounded by large boulders with a small pond right in the middle. It reminds me of a little cave, even though it’s not. The lower falls is quite beautiful with the white of winter.
STREAM LIGHT TRI FALLS
Stream Light Tri Falls has two large drops on the upper and lower falls with a beautiful cascade in the middle. If you get to the middle cascade you can get a great view of the top. With the larger cliff face on the lower falls you get a great view of the icicles in the winter. I also happened to lose my flashlight around these falls, so if you happen to stumble across it you may know why it got its name.
BACKWOODS DOUBLE FALLS
Backwoods Double Falls has two tall drops that are about equal in size. After you have looked at Parachute Falls, head a little further into the ravine to find this nice double waterfall.
FIVE DROP FALLS
Five Drop Falls is just that, a tiered waterfall with 5 very short drops. The ephemeral falls has a very small pool at the bottom and a very tall and distinctive gap at the top where the water falls into the tiers. It is a sight to see, especially in the winter. Certainly worth a look on your way to Fletcher Ridge Falls.
NOT FORGOTTEN FALLS
Not Forgotten Falls is an ephemeral waterfall that is worth a look on your way to Parachute Falls.
BROWN'S BOULDER DOUBLE FALLS
Brown's Boulder Double Falls is a small but pretty waterfall. The lower side has a bit more to offer as it has a boulder with a steep drop to the unknown. This ephemeral waterfall is worth the look simply because it is a great way down into the valley after you walk the ridge just northwest of Brown's Branch. This track will also keep you in the wilderness and off of private property.
GLADIE SPRINGS FALLS
Gladie Springs Falls is a bit unique. It has a pipe with a natural Spring coming out of the middle in the cove. Also there are ephemeral twin falls on each side of the spring pipe. The springs is located on the West Bank of the Gladie Creek just before the Laurel Fork. It’s a nice look on the way out to the taller falls.
BOULDER TRAP MINI FALLS
Boulder Trap Mini Falls is just that, a boulder that fell and leaned against the cliff line forming a small oddly shaped trapezoid with a nice waterfall flowing through. This is a low watershed ephemeral falls, so you will want to visit after a good rain.
LEWIS’ LITTLE WATERFALL
Lewis’ Little Waterfall is not much, but it means something to me as it was the first little waterfall I thought I may find and I did. It doesn’t have much watershed and it’s not big, but it’s my start. You will find it on the minor bushwhack up to Osborne Bend from Copperas Creek.
RAVEN RIFT POINT
Raven Rift Point has a walk out to a narrow point with a good view of the south side of Fletcher Ridge and the Dry Fork meeting the Gladie Creek. If you catch the point in the fall you will gaze upon an extraordinary view.
GLADIE PINES POINT
Gladie Pines Point is surrounded by pine trees with a good view of where the Gladie Creek and the Lost Branch meet.
ANYTHING IN LIFE WORTH DOING IS WORTH OVERDOING. MODERATION IS FOR COWARDS
-Shane E. Patton, Petty Officer 2nd Class USSOCOM (Navy Seal)