I was first introduced to Colditz Cove almost 25 years ago. A friend said it was a great place for a hike with a nice waterfall. I went out to explore and the first time there I was amazed to see many small Red Efts climbing around on the moss. This intrigued me and I have made numerous trips back in late spring to enjoy the area and to photograph the Red Efts. Writing about Colditz Cove was my first venture into writing for Outdoor Photographer magazine back in the middle 90s.
Colditz Cove is a Tennessee State Natural area that has 165 acres set aside for preservation and recreational enjoyment. Located just off SR 52 east of Allardt, TN, it is just a few miles west of historic Rugby, TN. Beautiful Northrup Falls cascades 60 feet down into the gorge from the Big Branch Creek. The bottom of the gorge area contains rhododendron and mountain laurel along the edges of the creek. You can walk under huge stone outcroppings (“rock houses”) and actually walk behind the falls along the trail.
As far as the Red Efts I have found there, more are found down in the gorge along the mossy covered rock walls. They don’t move quickly, so once you find them, you can set up a macro lens or wide angle or whatever you want to use. I’m hoping to go back this year and shoot more video of them crawling across the rocks and moss with the D4, which will make things much easier.
The trail isn’t long, maybe a mile or so down into the gorge and the falls. It is cooler down in the gorge, also, even when the temperature is warmer up on the Plateau. If you head that direction from Oak Ridge and go through historic Rugby, there are several old houses and churches to photograph and a museum and a café if you are hungry. Have fun and take your time down in the gorge, it is beautiful.