13 AMAZING WATERFALLS IN TENNESSEE YOU SHOULD CHASE

It’s no secret that Tennessee is one of the most beautiful states in the South. It continually leaves residents and tourists in awe over its vast and unpredictable landscapes.

One moment you will get green, lush rolling hills and sparkling clear lakes, and then you’ll turn the corner and find wooded forests and majestic mountains. One of the most common themes that keep tourists coming to Tennessee is the wide variety of jaw dropping waterfalls located throughout the state.

Did you know that the state of Tennessee has over 500 waterfalls? That means that if you’re out hiking, the chances of you finding a waterfall are pretty high!

Tennessee waterfalls are a lot like snowflakes — no two waterfalls are alike and each is beautiful in its own right. Here are some of our favorite waterfalls in Tennessee for you to check out on your next Tennessee trip.

13 AMAZING WATERFALLS IN TENNESSEE YOU SHOULD CHASE

MIDDLE TENNESSEE

Nashville itself is one of the most popular tourist destinations in middle Tennessee. With so much to do in the state capitol –such as Opryland, the Hermitage, Country Music Hall and Fame, and Centennial Park (just to name a few) — you may be tempted to skip a waterfall hike. But don’t!

These middle Tennessee waterfalls are all located within 3 hours of Nashville. We promise, they’re worth your time.

FALL CREEK FALLS

Distance: 2.4 miles
Elevation Change: 633 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Area of the State: Middle Tennessee
Trail Info 

Fall Creek Falls State Park is one of Tennessee’s largest and most visited state parks. Located just two hours from Nashville, in Spencer, Tennessee — the namesake waterfall here is one of the most impressive in the state.

At 256 feet, Fall Creek Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States.

The waterfall is perfect for a family adventure, because it can be seen from the base and the top — with a variety of short or long hike choices, so you can choose what works best for your crew. The trail to the top of Fall Creek Falls is a moderate hike, that’s roughly 2.4 miles.

You’ll also find a nature center here that the kids will love, as well as plenty of parking.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Located just behind the nature center at Fall Creek Falls State Park is the Cane Creek Cascades. Although not a plunging waterfall, it is still impressive and easy to visit!

CANE CREEK FALLS

Distance: 0.4 miles
Elevation Change: 82 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Area of the State: Middle Tennessee
Trail Info 

Also located in Fall Creek Falls State Park, is the easy-to-get-to Cane Creek Falls. This fun hike also features a suspension bridge.

The 85-foot Cane Creek Falls is visible from overlooks and trails throughout the park, and the water falls into a deep pool — perfect for swimming in the summer months.

This short hike is fun for all ages, and is really popular — but definitely worth it.

CUMMINS FALLS

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Change: 452 feet
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
Area of the State: Middle Tennessee
Trail Info 

Looking for a fun family excursion with a picturesque swimming hole and a stunning waterfall? Then look no further than Cummins Falls. This waterfall is located in another Tennessee state park — Cummins Falls State Park — located just an hour and 45 minutes outside Nashville.

Cummins Falls is the eighth largest waterfall in the state of Tennessee from volume of water passing through the falls. There are two trails to see Cummins Falls, the first trail is an easy trail that you can walk to the overlook and see the beautiful falls. If you desire to hike to the base, it is a moderate to difficult hike where crossing the creek a few times is necessary — so bring water shoes! (See below for more notes about this hike!)

Once you arrive at the base you will be able to swim and lounge on the rocks of the waterfall. This one is definitely a memorable adventure.

PLEASE NOTE: The Cummins Falls area is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions, a gorge permit is required, it’s not recommended for kids under 5, and kids under 12 should wear a life vest at the falls. Check all the latest details HERE before heading out.

OZONE FALLS

Distance: 0.3 miles
Elevation Change: 111 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Area of the State: Middle Tennessee
Trail Info 

Located in the Ozone Falls State Natural Area, a little less than 2 hours from Nashville, Ozone Falls will earn you bragging rights!

Not only is Ozone Falls beautiful with its 100-foot drop, but it was also where a lot of Disney’s Jungle Book was filmed!

If the waterfall itself wasn’t enough to get you to visit, the aqua-colored swimming hole at the base makes it a popular choice for locals and tourists.

Be prepared — even though it’s a short hike, it’s steep! The hike involves climbing down (and then back up) rocks — so it may not be great if you have really young kids. A view of the waterfall can also be enjoyed from the top of the falls, though — and it only requires a short walk to the overlook.

Parking on the side of the highway is limited here.

BURGESS FALLS

Distance: 1.6 miles
Elevation Change: 209 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Area of the State: Middle Tennessee
Trail Info 

An easy trek to amazing waterfall views? Yes, please! Burgess Falls in Burgess Falls State Park is picture-perfect and fun for all hiking levels.

The Falling Water River rises at the edge of the Cumberland Plateau, and traverses the Eastern Highland Rim before dropping off to the Nashville Basin and emptying into Center Hill Lake along the Caney Fork. But what it’s REALLY known for is the 136-foot Burgess Falls. 

The falls spill into a large limestone gorge, enclosed by sheer 100-200-foot walls. It’s a sight to behold, to be sure! While hiking to Burgess Falls, you’ll actually pass three other falls along the way.

This hike is popular on weekends, so plan accordingly!

TWIN FALLS

Distance: 1.6 miles
Elevation Change: 223 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Area of the State: Middle Tennessee
Trail Info 

The Twin Falls and Down River Trail are located in Rock Island State Park — just 30 minutes from Burgess Falls State Park (see above).

This easy hike will take you to beautiful views of Twin Falls — and other falls too!

The trail departs the Twin Falls Overlook and continues along the very steep bluff line bordering the river. It features views of the Blue Hole below, Twin Falls, Little Falls, and various seeps, as well as many spring wildflowers & rock formations. No swimming is allowed along this trail or at Twin Falls — the current is too strong here! But there is swimming allowed at the park (see below).

PLEASE NOTE: Rock Island State Park is known for the Caney Fork Gorge area — a beautiful limestone gorge that runs between Great Falls Dam and Twin Falls. It’s popular in the summer months for swimming, fishing, and rock hopping.

FOSTER FALLS

Distance: 2 miles
Elevation Change: 406 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Area of the State: Middle-Southern Tennessee (near Chattanooga)
Trail Info 

Located in South Cumberland State Park, Foster Falls is the most popular of six waterfalls that can found in the state park.

This 2-mile roundtrip Foster Falls Climbers Loop Trail hike takes you along a beautiful cliff line and along the base of towering bluff walls, before you get to see the 60-foot Foster Falls.

If you’re not up for a 2-mile hike, a short walk from the parking lot takes you to an overlook — and to the left of that overlook, you can take the steep “hike” down to the pool at the base of the falls.

EASTERN TENNESSEE

Eastern Tennessee is home to the majority of the state’s waterfalls and is a great vacation spot for those looking to get out into nature and enjoy some beautiful scenery. Knoxville is centrally located to a lot of the best waterfall excursions, and Gatlinburg is a great entry point to the waterfalls within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

GROTTO FALLS

Distance: 2.6 miles
Elevation Change: 544 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Area of the State: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Trail Info 

Just a short 1-hour drive from downtown Knoxville, Grotto Falls is a popular destination near Gatlinburg. This waterfall is a great choice for families — especially for those with smaller children. The trailhead is located right near the parking lot for the Trillium Gap Trail in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Children will absolutely love wading in the water at the base of the 25-foot waterfall. Grotto Falls is a popular choice amongst tourists, because not only is it beautiful, but also unique because you can actually walk behind the falls.

Parking is located on the opposite side of the road as the trailhead, and can fill up early, so be prepared to get an early start or be patient. There is also additional parking further up the road.

ABRAMS FALLS

Distance: 5.5 miles
Elevation Change: 629 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Area of the State: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Trail Info 

Another great waterfall located in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is Abrams Falls, just a 1.5-hour drive from Knoxville. This is the perfect waterfall hike to add onto a trip to the Cades Cove area of the park.

Abrams Falls is a 5.5-mile moderate hike from the trailhead, that can be reached from Cades Cove Loop Road, just past stop #10.

Abrams Falls might not be the tallest waterfall in Tennessee (it’s a 25-foot drop,) but it is impressive in the sheer volume of water going over the falls. The water is cold and can be unpredictable — it’s not meant for swimming — but the scenery is stunning and worth the trip!

PLEASE NOTE: The park closes the Cades Cove Loop Road to motor vehicle traffic all day on Wednesdays between early May and late September of each year, to allow cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the cove.

LAUREL FALLS

Distance: 2.4 miles
Elevation Change: 396 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Area of the State: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Trail Info 

Laurel Falls is a great choice if you’re looking for a fairly easy hike in the  Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Just 20 minutes outside Gatlinburg, the waterfall itself features an 80-foot drop and is separated into two sections — a lower section and an upper section. A walkway makes the upper section easily accessible. The falls are gorgeous, and that’s what makes Laurel Falls such a popular destination.

The trail to Laurel Falls is paved — but it’s older, and rough in some patches. Because of the condition of the trail, and the fact there are some parts with a moderately steep grade, it’s not recommended for wheelchairs or strollers. Parking at the lot at the trailhead is limited, and this is a popular trail — so try to get an early start! More info about parking below.

PLEASE NOTE: Trailhead parking will be by reservation only from Sept. 7 – Oct. 3, 2021, while the park pilots congestion management actions seeking to improve visitor safety and experience and protect park resources. Reservations are available online at www.recreation.gov. Shuttles will also be available from Gatlinburg to the trailhead. Information about the shuttles can be found at www.rockytoptours.com. Check the GSMNP website for the very latest on the parking reservation system.

BALD RIVER FALLS

Distance: 8.8 miles
Elevation Change: 774 feet
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
Area of the State: Eastern Tennessee
Trail Info 

This hike is a doozy, but it’s popular!

Located in Tellico Plains, TN in the Cherokee National Forest, the 90-foot Bald River Falls is known as one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the region.

The Bald River Trail is an out and back trail that takes you along the river, past several smaller waterfalls, before you arrive at Bald River Falls. This hike also includes a creek crossing, so come prepared!

WESTERN TENNESSEE

Memphis may be famous for its BBQ and its Rock and Roll Elvis roots, but it’s also within close proximity to some of the regions most beautiful waterfalls and scenery.

JACKSON FALLS

Distance: 0.4 miles
Elevation Change: 49 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Area of the State: Western Tennessee
Trail Info 

Jackson Falls is a little less than a 3-hour drive from Memphis, TN and makes a great day trip. The waterfall is located within the Natchez Trace Parkway. The trail is a short (and steep!) 900-foot hike down a paved concrete trail with handrails.

The falls cascade down tumbling rocks into a pool of crystal clear water at the base. It is a beautiful sight that’s not as well known as some of the bigger waterfalls, but beautiful in its own right.

The Jackson Falls hike is accessible from the parking area pullout on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

CEDAR FALLS

Distance: 1.9 miles
Elevation Change: 367 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Area of the State: Western Tennessee/Arkansas
Trail Info 

So…this one is technically in Arkansas, but if you’re already visiting Memphis, why not take a drive out to Petit Jean State Park — home to the beautiful Cedar Falls.

Cedar Falls Trail is located 200 miles from Memphis, and is worth the trip. This waterfall is known to be one of the most photographed places in all of Arkansas!

Cedar Falls boasts a 95-foot drop, and is one of the largest continuous flowing waterfalls in the region. There’s plenty of parking at the Visitor Center.

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO TENNESSEE

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It’s no secret that Tennessee is one of the most beautiful states in the South. Here are 8 Amazing Waterfalls In Tennessee You Should Make Time To Visit.