Cherohala Skyway drive


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Bald River Falls Smoky Mountains waterfall

The Bald River Falls is located near Tellico, Tenn., and can be viewed right from the road. Click here to order a print of this beautiful photo!

Recent trip on Cherohala Skyway yields beautiful photos

I was in Northeast Georgia recently working at the Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, and when the tournament was over I looked around for a scenic route through the Smoky Mountains. And I found the perfect drive on the Cherohala Skyway, which runs from Robbinsville, N.C., to Tellico Plains, Tenn.

Nantahala National Forest photography

Driving down a small, gravel Nantahala National Forest service road ended with photographs of a little-seen waterfall.

My hope was to find a eastern-looking overlook for a sunrise, so I left Hiawassee, Ga., at 5 a.m. Unfortunately, thick cloud cover ruined the sunrise. So I switched my focus to shooting streams and waterfalls, as the even lighting provided by overcast skies is perfect for that photography.

One of the areas I worked in was in the Nantahala National Forest. I left the Cherohala Skyway and drove for several miles down a gravel national forest service road until I was deep in a valley, through which a beautiful stream flows. My first stop provided some interesting photos. And then about five minutes farther down the road I could hear the roar of a waterfall through the thick brush. I quickly parked my truck, shouldered my backpack and pushed through about 100 yards of dense laurels to find a gorgeous waterfall that many people would miss.

It was just amazing. And the photos came out wonderfully.

Cherohala Skyway photography

The Cherohala Skyway winds through the Smoky Mountains between Robbinsville, N.C., and Tellico Plains, Tenn.

My next stop was at Bald River Falls near the terminus of the skyway. What a beautiful place, which is reached via an amazing drive along the Tellico River. This beautiful waterfall is located just off the road. It can be viewed right from the bridge that passes over Bald River where it meets the Bald River. I followed up by driving a few hundred yards to the Bald River Baby Falls, which is popular with kayakers.

Capturing the beauty of the falls and flowing streams meant utilizing a 3-stop B+W neutral density filter, along with a B+W polarizer. The ND filter slowed down the shutter speed to create a cottony look to the flowing water, while the polarizer removed unwanted glare.

I look forward to returning to the Cherohala Skyway during the fall, during which the autumn colors should be amazing.

Click here to see more Smoky Mountains photographs.

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About Andy Crawford

Andy Crawford has been a photographer and writer for more than 20 years, with thousands of images and articles published in magazines and newspapers around the country. He now focuses on Louisiana photography, landscapes, HDR photography, urban prints and other fine art photography. He also is a portrait photographer.