5 Tennessee Waterfalls to See

cummins falls
Photo: Cummins Falls State Park Facebook Page

Tennessee is a hotbed for rocks and rivers, so it is no wonder that we also have a ton of waterfalls as well. Waterfalls are some of the best natural beauties to behold and enjoy especially if you already love the outdoors.

Check out these 5 Tennessee waterfalls.

1. Virgin Falls

Photo from tn.gov

Located in the 1,157 acre natural area in White County, the Virgin Falls is created by an underground stream that drops over a 110-ft high cliff before disappearing into another cave at the bottom of the sink. While the area is named for the Virgin Falls, there are many caves and other waterfalls in the area including Big Laurel, Sheep Cave Falls, and Big Branch Falls.

The total hike to see Virgin Falls is a 9-mile round trip with a strenuous 900-ft elevation drop. The path is rocky in many areas creating uneven footing. It is not only one that you should take your time with, but know your limits as well. You’ll want to start early and leave yourself 5-9 hours for the full hike. As always pack water, food, and clothing as needed, and never go without letting others know where you’re going.

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2. Grotto Falls

Photo: nps.gov

Grotto Falls is one of the little known waterfalls in a more scenic area, but is only moderately challenging with a short hike. Due to the short distance and relatively easy access, this makes a great hike for the beginners and families, though you won’t be able to bring the stroller as the path isn’t paved (Laurel Falls Trail is more appropriate for strollers). Pets and bicycles are also not allowed here.

The total hike is 3 miles roundtrip and should take about 2-3 hours, but if you’re looking for something a little more exciting you can go and hike with the llamas and follow the path behind the waterfalls to continue to Mt. LeConte lodge.

After hiking about 1.5 miles on Trillium Gap Trail to reach Grotto Falls, you can take off your shoes and soak your feet in the cool water below the waterfall and enjoy the view.
This is a good hike for those getting into hiking and for families. Trillium Gap is not a paved trail, so is not for hiking groups with children in strollers. Pets and bicycles are not allowed. The 3-mile roundtrip hike to Grotto Falls takes about 2 to 3 hours. (For a shorter hike with a paved trail, check Laurel Falls Trail.)

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3. Cummins Falls

Photo: Cummins Falls State Park Facebook Page

Located in one of the newest state parks created in 2011, Cummins Falls was already known as a great swimming hole, but it’s also great for a scenic hike and home to the beautiful 75-ft falls. If you’re wanting to have a great hike and then cool off with some swimming, this is the place to go.

The full overlook hike is 3 miles, though there is a shortcut trail that is only 2 miles. Leave yourself a few hours for the hike and several more for the swim. The trail is downhill in making it easy going in, but it means it’s uphill going out. There’s also many stream crossing and slippery rocks, so people with bad balance or footing should probably avoid this trail.

Before you visit Cummins Falls, please note:

  • Gorge Access Permit required to visit the base of the waterfall.
  • The base of the waterfall is only accessible on fair-weather days.
  • Cummins Falls is a natural area with inherent safety risks.
  • The gorge is prone to flash flooding.
  • Visiting the gorge is a very strenuous and physical activity.
  • You should comply with the park’s safety instructions.
  • We recommend that children 5 and under not go to the falls.
  • Children under 12 must wear life vests at falls and be accompanied by an adult.
  • Visiting the waterfall will require:
    • Strenuous Hiking
    • Swimming or wading through water
    • Climbing Rocks
    • Crossing Slippery Rocks

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4. Fall Creek Falls

 

Fall Creek Falls is one of the other more popular waterfalls in Tennessee. Located in the state park of the same name, Fall Creek Falls is the highest single plunge east of the Mississippi at a measured height of 250 feet. This is also one of the shortest and easiest walks to see the falls from a great overlook, which also shows the Cane Creek Gulf. There’s also a short trail with stairs and some steep sections that leads to the base of the falls. Leave yourself at least a couple hours to enjoy the hike and explore the falls.

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5. Bald River Falls

 

Located off The Bald River in Monroe County, these Falls are a part of the Cherokee National Forest and a tributary of the Tellico River. The height is between 80 and 100 feet and easily one of the most impressive, scenic waterfalls, fed by a short but powerful river making for a strong, full waterfall.  The forests surrounding and leading to the falls were once almost completely logged by the Babcock Lumber Company in the early 20th century. The current road used to be an old logging railroad bed built by the company.

The hike is 8.2 miles and rated easy. The trail also allows dogs on a leash, so it makes for a great family hike without excluding your dog. Leave yourself several hours to enjoy the trail and the falls, though the actual trail should only take 2-4 hours.

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