Middle Tennessee Waterfall Tour
Thanks to the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee has approximately 808 waterfalls, some of the most iconic waterfalls and swimming holes in the country are relatively near each other and around 1.5 hour to 2 hour drive from Nashville. I feel they are totally worth the visit if you have the time and enjoy nature. Start early in the morning and you should be able to visit at least 3 main waterfalls in a day. I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls and Middle TN has some of the prettiest on the East Coast. Many waterfalls have swimming holes below them as well. Check out this website for information on all of TN’s waterfalls.
Waterfalls East of Nashville on 40 towards Cookeville
Burgess Falls (4000 Burgess Falls Dr, Sparta, TN 38583) 1 hour 35 minutes from Nashville. At Burgess Falls State Park about eight miles south of Cookeville, Falling Water River drops some 250 feet forming 20-foot cascades, 30-foot upper falls, 80-foot middle falls, and the dramatic 136-foot lower falls.
Cummins Falls (1081 Cummins Mill Rd, Cookeville, TN 38501) 1 hour 45 minutes from Nashville. One of the best popular swimming holes / Waterfall in the South. Cummins Falls is the eighth tallest waterfall in Tennessee by volume. A wide gravel road leads 0.4 miles from the parking lot to an awesome bird’s eye view of Blackburn Fork State Scenic River plunging 75 feet into a deep, wide pool at the base. If you’re up to the challenge of hiking down to the terminal cascade, you’ll be taking on some steep spots and switchbacks along a loop trail that drops 200 feet into the gorge. Before you reach the swimming hole there are some ankle-to-knee deep wading through portions of Blackburn Fork River. The key to this hike is to use extreme caution when hiking to the falls.
Evins Mill and Carmac Falls (1535 Evins Mill Road, Smithville, TN 37166) 1 hour 20 minutes from Nashville. This 90 foot cascade is the 10th highest waterfall in the state and is located just a
short distance from the main lodge at the Evins Mill Resort. Located near the town of Smithville and Interstate 40, Evins Mill offers a lodge, fine dining and spectacular views. Only a quarter mile walk from the Evins Mill Pond Dam, Carmac Falls creates a cozy setting for this wonderful retreat. This is a private lodge setting and owners ask that you to seek permission to take in the falls area.
Virgin Falls (Virgin Falls Parking lot Sparta, TN 38583 35.854229, -85.282074) Virgin Falls is located south off of US Hwy 70 between Sparta, and Crossville. From Sparta head east through town out Hwy 70, approximately 11 miles. Turn right on Eastland Road (at the Headstart building, and the turn has signs), proceed 6 miles to the junction of Scotts Gulf road (also signed), then on 2 miles to the parking lot on the right side (west side) of the road.
The going gets tougher on the way to the centerpiece of the 1,157-acre Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness Area. Virgin Falls drops over a 110-foot high cliff before disappearing into another cave at the bottom of the sink. Virgin Falls is one of the most interesting falls in Tennessee. Reaching it requires a rugged 8 mile round trip hike that passes by three other waterfalls will take most of a day.
Big Branch Falls 10′
Big Laurel Falls 30′
Sheep Cave Falls, Wildcat Falls and Polly Branch Falls are near by.
Waterfalls to the SouthEast of Nashville
Fall Creeks Falls (10821 Park Road Spencer, Tennessee 38585) – 2 hours from Nashville. This waterfall is the most famous waterfall in the area, which cascades down 256 feet, which is the largest waterfall on the east coast. The park also offers Cane Creek Falls, Cane Creek Cascades, Piney Falls and several other impressive falls. The base and overlook views are amazing.
There are many waterfalls of significant size within a 40 mile radius of the Fall Creeks Falls.
Fall Creek Falls 256’
Coon Creek Falls 250’
Rockhouse Falls 125’
Cane Creek Falls 85’
Cane Creek Cascades 45′
Piney Creek Falls 40’ (down onto a 45′ cascade)
Rock Island’s Twin Falls (82 Beach Rd, Rock Island, TN 38581) – 1 hour 20 minutes from Nashville. What is interesting is the water doesn’t flow over rocks but it comes through the rock cliff at 80 feet up the cliffs. The park contains numerous waterfalls. Many flow year-round, while some are more dependent on water flow from TVA. Some waterfalls are located on trails and some are easily viewed from overlooks. Two of the park’s largest waterfalls (Twin Falls 80’ and Great Falls 30’) can be easily seen from adjoining parking area overlooks.
Twin Falls 80’
Badger Falls 30’
Badger Flat Falls 20’
Great Falls 20’
Lower Great Falls 10’
Old Stone Fort State Park (732 Stone Fort Dr, Manchester, TN 37355) 1 hour 20 minutes from Nashville. This state park is home to nearly 10 waterfalls. Step Falls, along the Little Duck River, has a series of tiered waterfalls cascading along the perimeter of the prehistoric site. Along the Duck River, there are two larger waterfalls. Bluehole Falls, which is a short hike from the park museum, plunges into a magnificent blue pool and stands at nearly 30 feet in height. Big Falls, the largest of the falls at Old Stone Fort, is the most iconic falls on the property standing at over 30 feet in height.
Big Falls 30’
Bluehole Falls 30’
Machine Falls at Short Springs State Natural Area (park beside the Water Tower 1-, 99 Powell Rd, Tullahoma, TN 37388, 35.407233, -86.174492) 1 hour 20 minutes from Nashville. One of the least known waterfalls in the area but I think it is the one of the prettiest to photograph.
Close to Machine Falls is another pretty waterfall Rutledge Falls (1398 Rutledge Falls Rd, Tullahoma, TN 37388 35.420567, -86.137345) 1 hour 15 minutes from Nashville both can be a tad tricky to find but that helps with crowd control too.
South Cumberland State Park (11745 US-41, Monteagle, TN 37356) 1 hour and 30 minutes from Nashville
Breathtaking waterfalls form at the head of many gorges, where streams drop off over hard sandstone cap rock. Greeter Falls drops over a 15-foot upper ledge and then plummets over a 50-foot lower ledge into a cold, clear plunge pool. Savage Creek enters its gorge over cascades and drops 30-foot at Savage Falls. Collins River and Ranger Creek have waterfalls that drop over limestone ledges and flow into sinks where they disappear. Foster Falls is the easiest waterfall to visit.
Horsehair Falls 80’
Foster Falls 60’
Greeter Falls 50’
Suter Falls 50’
Boardtree Falls 30’
Ranger Creek Falls 30’
Savage Falls 30’
Horsepound Falls 25’
Laurel Falls 25’
Yellow Pine Falls 15’
Sycamore Falls 12’
Hanes Hole Falls 10’
Blue Hole Falls 9’