Do go chasing waterfalls … keeping safety in mind, of course!
Waterfalls to Explore
390 Cummins Falls Lane
Cookeville, TN 38501
A natural area with inherent safety risks, the waterfall is located in a gorge (permit required from the website) and it makes for some strenuous hiking, crossing slippery rocks and wading and/or swimming. Children under 12 must wear a life vest and be with an adult. Park hours are 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Foster Falls / Greeter Falls
Foster: 498 Foster Falls Road
Sequatchie, TN 37374
Greeter: 500 Greeter Falls Road
Altamont, TN 37301
These two waterfalls are near one another in South Cumberland State Park, so you can visit two in one day. Access a GPS map for directions to the trailheads on the website. Your kids will love the swing bridge at the base of the falls. This is a popular climbing spot, and you may be able to spot some climbers.
Lost Creek Falls (search “Lost Creek Falls”)
Lost Creek State Natural Area
White’s Cave Road
Sparta, TN 38583
Take the kids to where The Jungle Book was filmed in 1994. The fall opens to a large bowl with no surface drainage, so cold air is trapped in summer. The nearby Lost Creek Cave may be too slippery for kids. Lost Creek Falls are only 0.2 miles from the parking lot. A bit more quiet than other popular waterfalls.
Rutledge Falls Road
(park across from Rutledge Falls Baptist Church, 1289 Rutledge Falls Road, TN 37388)
A short walk from the parking lot makes this very easy for kids. The trail is on private property, but open to the public. Spring water makes a perfect swimming hole. The steep section to the base of the falls is slippery, and you can feel the temperature change as you go down.
Stillhouse Falls (search “Stillhouse Falls”)
Stillhouse Hollow Falls Trail
Mt. Pleasant, TN 38474
This Class-1 scenic recreational state natural area includes the Stillhouse Hollow Falls which can be seen by walking two-thirds of a mile along the easy trail. Cross several foot bridges and follow the white paint marked on the trees. Cold water makes an easy swimming hole. Lush surroundings make for a nice picnic spot, too.
Tips for Doing Waterfall Hikes With Kids
- Wear good hiking shoes
- Wear sunscreen; bring bug spray
- Pack a few tasty snacks
- Bring a waterproof instant camera
- Bring swimsuits and towels
- Consider repeating the same hike on other days since kids love familiarity
- Go at your kids’ pace, not your’s
- Consider packing a magnifying glass and binoculars
- Let the kids lead