Visit Tennessee’s Wonderful Waterfalls
East and Middle Tennessee are blessed with hundreds of waterfalls formed by creeks and rivers cascading down rocky ledges in charming and sometimes curious stair steps and plunging dramatically over the edges of cliffs. And now is the best time to see them!
Some, like the 90-foot Bald River Falls in the Cherokee National Forest near Tellico Plains, can easily be seen from your car. The more remote 80-foot Red Fork Falls in the Unicoi portion of the Cherokee National Forest is one of my wife, Cathy’s, favorites.
With more than 2,000 miles of streams the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to see waterfalls, large and small. Among the most popular, 80-foot Laurel Falls has a paved trail to the top that is traveled by thousands of visitors each year.
Burgess Falls, south of Cookeville, involves a .75-mile hike past three smaller waterfalls on the Falling Water River before reaching the dramatic overlook of the 136-foot plunge at Burgess Falls.
Virgin Falls rewards seasoned hikers who make the rugged eight-mile round trip past caves and sinks with the sight of a thunderous cascade that emerges from the mouth of a cave before falling 110 feet and disappearing underground into another cave at the bottom of a deep sink. My neighbor recently made the trek and loved it.
Guided hikes and tours will showcase several of Tennessee State Parks’ most spectacular and popular cascades during the annual Waterfalls Weekend scheduled for the weekend of March 16 and 17 this year. Most are free. Some require advance reservations.
Fall Creek Falls State Park hosts guided hikes on March 16. In addition to the 256-foot Fall Creek Falls there are more than 60 waterfalls of significant size within a 40-mile radius of the park. Naturalist-led hikes are first-come, first-served and are planned to include the 85-foot Cane Creek Falls and 95-foot Piney Creek Falls. For more info call the nature center at 423-881-5708.
Edgar Evins State Park staff and the Friends of Edgar Evins once again host their popular waterfalls tour. Make your reservations now for the day-long adult oriented van tours that begin at the Edgar Evins Visitor Center at 8 a.m. on March 16 for visits to Roaring River Falls, Waterloo Falls and the impressive 75-foot drop at Cummins Falls on Blackburn Fork State Scenic River nine miles north of Cookeville. Reservations cost $10 per seat and do not include the cost of lunch. Seating is limited. Call 931-858-2114 or 800-250-8619 to reserve your spot.
Twin Falls, at 80 feet, is the most striking and can be easily seen from Twin Falls parking lot. Short hikes lead to Baby Falls along the Eagle Trail, Little Falls off the Downstream Trail and Waterfall seeps along the Blue Hole Trail. Call 931-686-2471 for details.
Tall or small, wide or narrow, waterfall lovers categorize them, measure them, photograph and describe them while being mesmerized by the sight and sound of them. From free-falling vertical plunges to deep rumbling torrents as wide as they are tall, my eyes and ears are equally enthralled.
Care to share your favorite Tennessee waterfall?