Lakes, Rivers, Waterfalls: Cool off in Tennessee

Lakes, Rivers, Waterfalls: Cool off in Tennessee

Tennessee has natural ways of cooling off this summer.

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In Tennessee, cool water streams down from the mountains and summits can reach 5,000 and 6,000 ft. above sea level, naturally offering places to cool off during the warm spring and summer months. That means that even on the hottest of days, you can find a place to swim, a hike to conquer, or a waterfall to explore for a little relief from the Tennessee heat. Here are some can't miss spots to visit. 

(Lost Sea, Sweetwater)

There are many caves to visit in Tennessee, like Forbidden Caverns in Sevierville, the famed Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, and Craighead Caverns--where you can find the largest underground lake in North America, the Lost Sea in Sweetwater.

(Norris Lake)

Stay on the surface with hundreds waterborne options that range from the scenic lakes like Norris and Watauga Lakes to the beautiful rivers like Clinch, Ocoee and Holston, on which you can float lazily or tear through the rapids.

(Ocoee River, credit: Josh Ness, Nashville Explorers Club)

Hike to waterfalls that dot the scenic, lush beauty of Tennessee:

Benton Falls, Polk County

Benton Falls is popular among hikers, so get ready to make lots of friends while hiking along the 3.5 trail to the waterfall. This hike is good for all skill levels. For more of a challenging hike, head to some of the others below.

Blue Hole Falls, Grundy County

(Credit: Chuck Sutherland

Take the Fiery Gizzard Trail in South Cumberland State Park to see this beauty. The Trail is 12.5 miles long one way that eventually leads to Foster Falls, another Tennessee waterfall not to be missed.

Rainbow Falls, Sevier County

Known for the rainbow you can see on sunny afternoons, this 80-ft. high waterfall can be accessed through a moderate hike of 5.4 miles roundtrip. Once taking in the breathtaking scene, you can continue for four miles to the summit of Mount Le Conte.

Ramsey Cascades, Sevier County

(Credit: Molly Brown)

Hike 2,200 ft. in elevation over four miles for a moderately strenuous hike that bears big rewards. The water fall is the tallest in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Water drops approx. 100 ft. before it collects in a small pool.

Upper Boardtree Falls, Grundy County

(Credit: Chuck Sutherland

Part of Savage Gulf State Natural Area, which is part of South Cumberland State Park (one of Tennessee's most scenic wilderness areas), these falls can be found just passed Greeter Falls. Boardtree Falls' waters tumble over a tiered rock hill. Be careful when you climb as steep inclines and narrow pathways weave to this natural wonder.

Tennessee is home to so many waterfalls, it's hard to choose just one to explore. Visit here, here, here and here for a few ideas. 

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