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 including the waterfalls in Tennessee. One moment you will get green and lush rolling hills and sparkling clear lakes and then you turn the corner and you will find wooded forests and majestic mountains. One of the most common themes that keep tourists coming and gawking at Tennessee is the wide variety of jaw dropping waterfalls located throughout the state.
I’m going to be completely honest and say that it was hard to choose only eight waterfalls to add to this list. I still pinch myself because I live in a state that has such beautiful scenery. Did you know that the state of Tennessee has over 500 waterfalls? That means that if you are out on a hike it’s possible that you could stumble into one.
Tennessee waterfalls are a lot like snowflakes in the fact that no two waterfalls are alike and each is beautiful in its own right. We did our best to narrow down the list and choose the most family friendly Tennessee waterfalls so that you can easily add them to your itinerary for your next Tennessee vacation. When choosing these waterfalls we have also taken into account how accessible they are by trails, if they are in a state park (no trespassing), and if they have easy parking.
Here are 8 Waterfalls in Tennessee you should make time to visit broken down by region for easy navigating:
Nashville (Middle Tennessee)
Nashville itself is one of the most popular tourist destinations in 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) it may be tempting not to carve out time to see some of Nashville’s most stunning natural scenery including these top three Tennessee Waterfalls all located within just a short driving distance. We promise that these stunning waterfalls are worth the time!
Falls Creek Falls
Address: 10821 Park Road, Spencer, TN
Located just 2 hours from Nashville in Falls Creek State Park in Spencer, Tennessee is one of the most impressive sources of water in the state. If you are a nature enthusiast you will not want to miss out on the largest waterfall in the Southeast. This stunning waterfall is 256 feet high and perfect for families because it can be seen from the base and the top with a variety of short or long walks and hikes on trails so you can choose the best option for the age group.
The trail to Falls Creek waterfall is a “moderate” hike that is roughly 2.2 miles.
The creek falls near the trail and is fun to hike alongside. Those with small children may want to consider wearing or carrying to save little legs on the creek hike. Families will also love the nature center located in the park with fun arts and crafts for kids. There is plenty of parking available at the nature center where you can begin your adventure at the trails. Falls Creek Falls is a favorite among Tennessee locals and shouldn’t be missed.
Address: 1081 Cummins Mill Road, Cookeville, TN
If you are looking for a fun excursion for the family with a picturesque swimming hole and an even more stunning waterfall then Cummins Falls is an absolute favorite among locals. Cummins Falls is located an hour and 45 minutes outside of Nashville in Cummins Falls State Park.
It 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 moderate to difficult hike where crossing the creek a few times is necessary so bring water shoes for the whole family.
If you forget or don’t have water shoes they can be purchased at the general store located near the entrance to the park. Once you arrive at the base you will be able to swim and lounge on the rocks of the waterfall. Families with older children and teenagers will enjoy this adventure together. Parking is plenty and easy to navigate in this state park.
Address: 24 Office Dr. S., Crossville, TN
Located just 1 hour and 50 minutes away from Nashville, TN, a visit to Ozone Falls will earn bragging rights to your friends. Not only because of its stunning beauty and majestic 100 foot drop but also the fact that the Disney Movie Jungle Book was filmed at this location. As if the waterfall itself wasn’t enough to get you here the eye popping aqua swimming hole at the base makes this waterfall a destination of choice for locals and tourists.
Bring a towel and some rugged hiking shoes for the 1.2 mile roundtrip to the base.
Please note that the hike does include climbing down some rocks so may not be as easily enjoyed for those with really young children. The view can be enjoyed from the top and makes this a great drive by waterfall for those looking for an accessible drop. Parking will be on the side of the highway to hike falls in the Ozone National Forest.
Knoxville (Eastern Tennessee)
Eastern Tennessee is home to the majority of the states waterfalls and is a great vacation spot for those looking to get out into nature and enjoy some beautiful scenery. Knoxville is the closest bigger city to the Smoky Mountain National Park and acts as a great central point for the areas best waterfalls excursions with many stunning and majestic waterfalls within an hour drive.
Address: Trillium Gap Trail, Gatlinburg, TN
Just a short one hour drive from downtown Knoxville Grotto Falls is a popular natural destination. 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.
The hike to the base of the waterfall is an easy to moderate hike 2.6 mile roundtrip.
Children will absolutely love wading and throwing rocks at the base of the 25 foot waterfall. Grotto Falls is a popular choice among tourists because as beautiful as it is, it is also the only waterfall in the entire Smoky Mountain National Park that you can walk behind the falls. Parking is located on the opposite side of the road as the trailhead and can fill up so there is additional parking spaces located further up the road.
Address: Abrams Falls Trailhead Townsend, TN
Another great waterfall located in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is Abrams Falls just a short 1 hour and 15 minute drive from Knoxville. This is the perfect add on hike to a visit to Cades Cove. Cades Cove is an icon in the Smokies and a must visit on most visitor’s list.
Abrams Falls is a 5.2 mile roundtrip moderate hike from the trailhead that can be reached from the Cades Cove Loop Road.
Follow signs on the one way loop just before five miles in and after you cross over Abrams Creek you will turn onto a gravel road that will take you to a parking area by the trailhead. Abrams Falls might not be the tallest waterfall in Tennessee but it is impressive in its sheer volume of water going over the falls. The water is cold and can be unpredictable and not meant for swimming but the scenery is stunning and worth the trip!
Please note there are no restrooms on the trail and no drinking water so if you are planning on this hike with children you may want to stop at the visitors center before heading in.
Address: Little River Gorge Rd, Sevierville, TN
Laurel Falls is another great choice for a moderate hike in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park located just an hour away from downtown Knoxville. The waterfall itself features an 80 foot drop and is separated into two sections a lower and an upper section with a walkway that makes the upper section accessible.
The trail to the waterfall is a moderate 2.6 mile roundtrip hike.
While the trail is paved it is rough in some patches and wheelchairs and strollers are not advised. There are also some steep hills with drop offs on this hike so keep close eye on small children. Parking is located right at the trail head just past the Sugar Loaf Visitors Center.
There are no bathrooms or drinking water on this trail but there are those amenities in the nearby visitors center.
Memphis (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. Whether you are planning a trip to the area or a resident looking for new places to bring guests, these two waterfalls are excellent choices for a day out in nature.
Address: Jackson Falls, Natchez Trace Pkwy, Duck River, TN
Jackson Falls is about 2 hours and 45 minute drive from Memphis, TN and makes a great day trip to enjoy the natural sights and sounds away from the city noise. The waterfall is located within the Natchez Trace Parkway.
The trail is a short (steep) 900 foot hike down a paved concrete trail with handrails.
The waterfalls falls cascades down tumbling rocks into a pool of crystal clear water at the base. It is a beautiful sight that is not as well known as some of the bigger waterfalls but beautiful in its own right. Jackson Falls hike is accessible from the parking area pullout on the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Address: 1285 Petit Jean Mountain Road, Morrilton, AR,
Cedar Falls Trail is located 200 miles from Memphis and is worth the trip. The Cedar Falls boasts a 95 drop and is one of the largest continuous flowing waterfalls in the region. While technically this waterfall is located in Arkansas, it was worth mentioning on this list as it is a popular choice among locals and an easy drive from Memphis with spectacular views.
The hike to the falls is a moderate 2 mile roundtrip.
Cedar Falls is located in the Petit Jean State Park. Parking is plenty at the base of the trailhead.