Hiking Waterfalls in Tennessee  by Johnny Molloy

Hiking Waterfalls in Tennessee Guide Book

by Johnny Molloy (Falcon Guides)
Hiking Waterfalls in Tennessee  by Johnny Molloy
How fortunate we are to have preserved lands laced with trails that lead to varied waterfalls! The foresight of creating parks that protect waterfalls and building trails within them benefits us greatly, lending opportunities to experience the aquatic splendor that runs through Tennessee. These destinations also harbor natural beauty for which Tennessee is known, from the mountaintop cataracts to waterfalls flowing through the hills along the Natchez Trace. May the hikes presented in this book help you explore and appreciate the waterfalls of the Volunteer State. Enjoy.

© 2015 Johnny Molloy /Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking Waterfalls in Tennessee" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 75.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 75.

Perhaps the most famous falls in Tennessee, certainly within the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Abrams Falls is a powerful rumbler. Here, the entirety of Abrams Creek drops over a stream-wide ledge, loudly landing in a pool large enough to accommodate the throngs of visitors who flock to it during the Smokies tourist season. However, do not let the crowds deter you—Abrams Falls’ beauty and legend make it a must for Volunteer State waterfallers.
Gatlinburg, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
This gem of a 40-foot waterfall spills in faucet fashion through a rock crevice and is one highlight in a Cherokee National Forest recreation area developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It is an easy walk from the road to view the ribbon of white, after you walk atop the stream forming the falls. Other nearby activities include hiking atop Backbone Rock, picnicking, fishing, swimming, and camping. Backbone Rock, located near the Virginia state line, is a slender sandstone out-crop, looking monument-esque, around which Beaverdam Creek flows. The stream and mountains conspire to create an area ideal for scenic preservation. When the area was logged a century back, a spur rail line was laid along Beaverdam Creek from nearby Damascus. Rather than working the rail line around narrow Backbone Rock, the builders blasted a hole, creating a tunnel.
Greeneville, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.3
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This hike starts at one of Tennessee’s iconic cataracts—Bald River Falls. The 90-foot showstopper is visible from the trailhead. You will then hike up Bald River Trail, entering the Bald River Gorge Wilderness. Reach the top of Bald River Falls and a grand vista. Next, enjoy a ledge cascade, then visit Middle Bald River Falls, another ledge drop with a big plunge pool that divides the lower part of the cataract, dropping in chute fashion just below your viewing point. Additional rugged geological scenery can be enjoyed while on the hike.
Tellico Plains, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
With two more popular waterfalls nearby, this Smoky Mountain cataract is undeservedly overlooked. The hike travels hill and hollow to reach appropriately named Falls Branch. Here, descend past pioneer history to reach this 40-foot spiller as it dives over a stone ledge in a secluded setting. Baskins Creek flows north in the shadow of Mount LeConte. Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls—both nearby—overshadow Baskins Falls, by far the least visited of the three. One of the reasons it’s less popular may be the difficulty in finding the Baskins Creek Trail.
Gatlinburg, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
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This popular waterfall starts at a popular Chilhowee Campground, atop a mountain in the Cherokee National Forest. The wide trail first takes you by a lake, then intertwines with bike trails before descending to upper Rock Creek and reaching the 65-foot waterfall, fanning out over layered rock strata in a stone cathedral. The hike begins at a popular camping and day-use area. After making your way past McCamy Lake, trace a wide trail under pine/oak/hickory woods. The hiking is easy. After the trail starts to drop, you come alongside Rock Creek. Suddenly you are descending the steep spur trail to the cool, inviting falls.
Tellico Plains, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
Buckeye Falls stakes its claim to being the highest in the East—along with others. However, when it’s flowing well there’s no mistaking that this is one high, yet hard to view, cataract. The hike to reach it is challenging. Several stream fords of Clark Creek lead into Sampson Mountain Wilderness. The rough trail gets rougher when you head straight up a tributary of Clark Creek to 475-foot Buckeye Falls, its slope extending upward beyond view. Estimates of Buckeye Falls’ height range from 475 to 700 feet, and it is truly one of the—if not the—highest falls in the East. However, being a low-fl ow cascade, more often than not it flows as a narrow spiller then widens and trickles over a wide rock face. Another problem is the inability to view its entirety from its base. However, off trail hikers have viewed Buckeye Falls during leaf-off from nearby Chigger Ridge.
Greeneville, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
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This destination is more than just one waterfall, though 136-foot Burgess Falls is clearly the jewel in the “triple crown” that also includes roaring Middle Falls and cascading Upper Falls. A fine trail leads along the aptly named and voluminous Falling Water River, culminating in a drop to the misty base of Burgess Falls. An alternate return route makes a loop hike possible. Burgess Falls State Natural Area stakes claim to this parcel of the Falling Water River, where a scenic stretch of water drops over 250 feet, creating three major cataracts and a host of lesser cascades in less than a mile’s distance. Protected for over four decades, this natural area was one of the Volunteer State’s first designated and protected environmental havens.
Sparta, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
A series of short and gratifying nature trails explore two waterfalls with a wow factor, set at Fall Creek Falls State Park. First head to 40-foot Cane Creek Cascades, enjoying it from below, above, and even from a swinging bridge. Next head to overlooks of 85-foot Cane Creek Falls, including the unusual and challenging trip to the base of Cane Creek Falls via the Cable Trail. Furthermore, you have the added benefit of seeing 115-foot Rockhouse Falls, dropping into the same pool as Cane Creek Falls.
Pikeville, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
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This slide waterfall is hidden deep in the Sampson Mountain Wilderness, on a tributary of Clark Creek. The hike starts up Clark Creek Trail and its many fords. Next, you turn up Chigger Branch, hemmed in by Chigger Ridge and Longarm Ridge. Trace a logging grade-turned-manway to reach the 85-foot fall as it spills from a rhododendron thicket down a widening rock face, then makes a turn, splashing into boulders and ending. Chigger Branch Cascades is a real gem. However, you need to know a few things before heading there. First, the best time of year is late winter and early spring, before the leafout. That is when the water will be up and the brush down, making your visit worthwhile. However, you must ford Clark Creek eight times on the way up and Chigger Branch a couple more, then do the same fords on the way back down.
Greeneville, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
This easy waterfall walk starts at a small, remote picnic area and follows Coker Creek to a series of cascades also known as the Seven Sisters. The cascades fall in seven stages, the last of which is more of a prototype waterfall and is officially known as Coker Creek Falls. If you want to stretch your legs, the Coker Creek Trail offers more cascades amid scenic Southern Appalachian splendor. The name Coker Creek, in mountainous southeast Tennessee, recalls history. This was once Cherokee country but was later settled by simple white farmers looking for their own piece of America. The agrarian way of life held sway until gold was discovered on Coker Creek. As it happened near mountain streams in North Georgia, gold fever swept through these Tennessee hills. Gold-crazed miners panning in Coker Creek provided much of the precious metal in the United States during that time.
Tellico Plains, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.4
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It is less than a mile to reach this multitiered cataract. Gently descend on a fine path, switchbacking downhill to reach Conasauga Creek. Soak in stream views before arriving at the impressive waterfall, reached by steps leading down to the base of the falls.
Tellico Plains, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
While this waterfall may not be Tennessee’s greatest waterfall, it certainly is in the running for best waterfall moniker. Named for its mother stream, Coon Den Branch, this 80-foot cascade discharges over an open rock face. At normal flows, the stream makes a slender descent down a crack in the face before widening at the base. Be apprised Coon Den Branch is a small stream, thus rarely has exhilarating flows.
Greeneville, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
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This fall is named after Tennessee legend David Crockett (who never went by Davy), and it’s located at the state park bearing his name. The wide but short fall is a landmark at the state park. During his time, he was always known as David Crockett. It was only after the 1950s television series put forth by Disney, in which he was dubbed “Davy Crockett,” that this erroneous name came to rise. Tennessee has another state park named for this legend, Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park in upper East Tennessee. The state ought to know better than to name the state park as they did. Perhaps they were trying to cash in on the Crockett craze that followed the shows.
Lawrenceburg, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
This hike passes 15-foot Crystal Falls, an arch, and a rockhouse, then makes its way through the Hidden Passage in the first mile. From there, walk along a cliffline above Thompson Creek, gaining views, before taking a side trail to 25-foot Double Falls. Precipitation has its advantages, namely filling our mountain streams with water, making waterfalls—well, fall. In spring, waterfalls crash, they roar, they splatter and splash, creating misty vapors that refract spring’s brilliant sunlight, sometimes even showing off rainbows. You may see this effect at Crystal Falls.
Jamestown, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 9
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This torrent is the centerpiece of a newer Tennessee state park. Cummins Falls occurs where brawling Blackburn Fork—a state scenic river—drops into an impressive canyon. A short walk takes you to a vista of the falls, but adventurous hikers can descend to the stream then work their way to the base of the multitiered, high-volume fall. Summertime trail trekkers will be rewarded with a dip in the huge rock-walled swimming hole.
Cookeville, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
Check out a pair of waterfalls at Frozen Head State Park, one of Tennessee’s finest state preserves. You will head up North Prong Flat Fork, in a richly wooded, richly flowered and richly geological vale. It is an easy walk to 12-foot DeBord Falls. You then head up steeper Emory Gap Branch to find 24-foot Emory Gap Falls diving over a rock rim onto boulders, then splashing into a plunge pool, bordered by a rockhouse.
Wartburg, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
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There are a lot of creek crossings—12—en route to two less-visited cataracts in the upper Laurel Fork valley. The numerous fords, easily achieved at normal summer water levels, leave this aquatic trek to the more adventurous set. Your first reward will be Dennis Cove Falls, a two-tiered pourover filling a great pool. Pass through Frog Level, an open mountain meadow, before plunging into a narrowing gorge and finding Upper Laurel Fork Falls, a fermenting rush of whitewater hurtling into a rock defile.
Greeneville, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
This fun hike is a highlight of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Begin at the outdoor hub of Bandy Creek, complete with visitor center and campground. Delve into the Fall Branch canyon. Hike beside dusky bluffs cloaked in pine, hemlock, and rhododendron. One bluff descent involves a ladder as you infiltrate the valley, coming to 10-foot Fall Branch Falls, making a curtain-style nosedive over an overhanging rock rim. This waterfall walk uses the John Litton Farm Loop, a favored circuit hike in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. It starts at Bandy Creek, where there is a fine campground to complement your exploration of this preserved parcel administered by the National Park Service.
Oneida, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.4
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Take a hike to the namesake cataract of Tennessee’s most popular state park. Truly a gem of the Volunteer State, Fall Creek Falls, the plateau’s highest tumbler, drops 256 feet over a stone precipice into a rock-rimmed catch basin. First, enjoy an allaccess view with lots of others, then take the Base of Falls Trail through a geological wonderland of cliffs, boulder gardens and rock formations en route to a bottom-up perspective of this cataract. In wetter times, you will also view 250-foot Coon Creek Falls, which drops into the same pool.
Pikeville, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
The beauty of Fall Hollow Falls will surprise the casual tourist pulling over on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Despite the fact that this is a low-volume watershed, visitors will be rewarded with two cataracts presenting three different types of falling water.
Hohenwald, TN - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.4
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