Tennessee is a beautiful state of forests, hiking trails, swimming holes, waterfalls, and so much to explore and discover! From the Music City of Nashville to Chattanooga in the southeastern region of the state, you will find the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee National Forest, and over 50 Tennessee State Parks.
Today we are going to take a journey into the best waterfalls in the state of Tennessee. From easy hikes to more challenging ones, uncover the incredible falling waters of the Highland Rim, the Cumberland Plateau, and everywhere in between! The prime time to waterfall hunt is during the springtime snowmelt.
12 Best Waterfalls in Tennessee
1. Greeter Falls
Located in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area in the greater South Cumberland State Park, Greeter Falls is a great place to see multiple waterfalls and enjoy a blissful day in nature. The Greeter Falls Loop Trail is a short hike that takes you to the 15-foot Upper Falls, the 50-foot Lower Falls, and Boardtree Falls.
2. Burgess Falls State Park
Nestled in the small town of Sparta lies Burgess Falls State Park, where you can witness in-real-life idyllic views of cascading rivers and beautiful waterfalls. The challenging 1.5-mile round trip trek leaves hikers a little breathless (and speechless) when they see the 136-foot Burgess Falls on Falling Water River. If you want to explore from the bottom of the falls, you can put in a kayak at the Cane Hollow Access Point on Center Hill.
3. Cummins Falls State Park
Powerfully plunging 75 feet into the Blackburn Fork River at Cummins Falls State Park is Tennessee's eighth largest waterfall. Located in Cookeville, this 211-acre park is a two-tier waterfall that has been ranked by Travel + Leisure as one of the best swimming holes in the USA.
4. Fall Creek Falls State Park
The biggest and most visited state park in Tennessee is Fall Creek Falls State Park, where Fall Creek Falls cascades a whopping 256 feet into the beautiful river gorge. Situated in the town of Spencer, this single-drop falls is said to be the highest vertical drop east of the Rocky Mountains and serves as one of the most iconic Tennessee waterfalls.
5. Laurel Falls
Nestled in the mystical refuge of the Great Smoky Mountains, there is no question why Laurel Falls is one of the best waterfalls in the state. This moderate 5.2-mile round-trip hike is separated into the lower and upper sections with a walkway that crosses a stream.
6. Twin Falls
A waterfall of accidental creation, Twin Falls was formed when the Caney Fork River was dammed. Located in the Rock Island State Park, this hike is relatively easy along the river, besides the stairs that you must descend to access the viewpoints.
7. Cane Creek Cascades
Located between Spencer and Pikeville, you will find the natural wonderland of Cane Creek Cascades. This easy 0.2-mile out and back trail takes you to the Cane Creek Suspension Bridge over the creek and to Cane Creek Falls. Take a refreshing dip in the natural swimming hole before taking another hiking trail to the 45-foot Cane Creek Cascades.
8. Bald River Falls
Situated in Cherokee National Forest near Tellico Plains, Bald River Falls is a 90-something-foot waterfall that is heavily visited on weekends and holidays. The great falls offer spectacular opportunities for photographs, hiking, and soaking in the sunshine.
9. Foster Falls
Another epic waterfall in South Cumberland State Park is FosterFalls, where a 60-foot rush of water towers down into the deep pool underneath it. Foster Falls is a great option as there are nearby campgrounds with a bathhouse, picnic area, and free parking.
10. Machine Falls
Machine Falls is located in the Short Springs State Natural Area near Tullahoma in the heart of thick Tennessee wilderness. This moderately-rated 1.6-mile long hiking trail features a handful of smaller waterfalls, creeks, wildlife, and the 60-foot Machine Falls that gushes into a shallow pool of colorful lichen-covered rock formations.
11. Carmac Falls
Carmac Falls is found on the private land of Evins Mill Resort outside of Smithville, Tennessee, and is the 10th-tallest waterfall in the state. To gain access to this 90-foot fall, you must be staying at the resort or purchase the "day-tripper" package. There is the 1.5-mile South Trail that takes you to the base of the falls or the mile-long North Trail that is considerably more challenging.
12. Ruby Falls
A completely different experience, Ruby Falls offers guests the chance to see an underground waterfall. Located in Lookout Mountain, this unique falls is rated as the USA's highest and deepest underground waterfall.
Other Notable Tennessee Waterfalls
- Duck River
- Jackson Falls
- Blue Hole Falls
- Ozone Falls