I’ve been wanting to hike up Red Creek for a few years now, but something has always gotten in the way of it. Once, my brother and I were going to hike and camp for three days, but we couldn’t work it out. This year, 6 campers were going for 3 days and it all fell apart at the last minute. I finally got the opportunity to hike one day anyway, with a friend and we spent the whole day hiking up to Diamond Falls and back. It was well worth the time spent.
Never having been on the trail, we, of course, got side tracked a couple times in the beginning. The trail wants to lead you to a nice camp site about 15 min. into it, but some campers clued us in. There are also rock cairns in a lot of places to help. At any rate, the trail is really not that hard, however, it is quite rocky and hard on the feet for this old man.
Our first encounter was about 1.5 hours out, when we came upon Stairstep Falls, which falls right across the trail. We spent some time here and got a lot of different perspectives on this small fall. It’s actually kind of pretty even in low water. We also had to sit and wait for clouds to roll in to help with the glare.
Another half hour on the trail brought us to Curtain Falls. It’s very easy to see from the trail, but you will have to climb down into the creek to shoot it, which is not a bad thing, since you will need to get down the creek from the falls to access Red Creek, where the really good stuff is.
After shooting the falls for awhile, I walked (rock hopped) down to the end of the creek, which can be seen from the falls. It spills into Red Creek and at that point, there is a very flat and smooth rock bottom crossing. Granted, you will get wet feet, but it was easy in the water level that was present when we visited. Not more than 12″ at the deepest part and mostly 4-6″ and only about 15 yards across to dry land. Alternatively, go upstream a short way and rock hop across. It’s tricky, but I did it and stayed dry.
My friend, Anne Johnson, (Anne’s website) gives an alternative set of directions for visiting this falls. I have not been that route, but, if she says so, I believe her. The trail she mentions is not listed in the PDF map of Dolly Sods, but I looked at my TOPO maps and it looks like a rather flat and wide area on that side of the creek, between Stonecoal Run and Diamond Falls area. It requires that you cross Red Creek at Stonecoal Run, rather than up stream where I crossed, thuss, you don’t see the other two falls. On the upside, it looks like it is less elevation gain for sure.
From where I crossed, you’ll walk down stream through some nice and fairly clear woods along river right. You will probably see a lot of good camping spots, but the best one is down below Diamond falls and right on the water. Nice spot. Nice and wide and open and someone made a fire pit. That’s where I first went into the water to shoot this.
You can see Diamond Falls way in the background of this image. It’s not far back up stream. There are several access points into the creek at Diamond Falls. I felt I wanted to be on the other side of the creek to shoot these falls, but saw no easy route, so let it go.
There are more falls on Red Creek and on some of the feeder creeks, such as Big Stonecoal Creek and Stonecoal Creek. I have plans to hit both of these at some point in the future, even though, on the way out, we met two guys coming down from Big Stonecoal who classified the hike as “BRUTAL”. I had heard it was hard but we’ll be going anyway.
Additionally, there is Destination Falls farther upstream from Diamond Falls. It seems that the Fisher Spring Trail is the way to visit this falls, but, looking at the map, the Red Creek trail intersects Fisher Creek as well, so, you be the judge. I will only say that if you only have one day, and you are a camera freak, you probably will not be able to do more than I did in a days work. I don’t think you want to get stuck here after dark, unless you are equipped for it.