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UPDATE! Best Waterfall Hikes Near Nashville + a Sliding Rock, NC Bonus

IT'S TIME. Waterfalls await and the primo time to go chasing them has arrived!

Middle Tennessee is home to some of the best waterfall hikes that the Southeast has to offer — that’s just a fact. Some are composed of a series of picturesque cascades. Others are free-falling waterfalls that plummet from heights as tall as 100-feet. All of the waterfall trails listed are within a two-and-a-half hour drive of the Nashville city center. So, DO chase some of the best waterfalls around Nashville, all ranked on a difficulty scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most difficult).

And scroll down for a BONUS on Sliding Rock near Asheville, North Carolina should you be venturing near there this summer!


Best Waterfall Hikes Near Nashville + a Sliding Rock NC Bonus


Rutledge Falls in Tullahoma, TN - Tennessee Vacation

10. Rutledge FallsTullahoma

Visit the amazing falls just 12 minutes from Interstate 24, Exit 110. It’s located just a short walk from the parking lot through privately owned land. Closed toe shoes are recommended as the walk down to the falls can be slippery at times. Open from dawn to dusk, it’s a great place for a day of family fun, as the secluded spot offers easy access, pristine picnic spots, and a beautiful swimming hole. The only difficulty is a short climb down some rocks that may be slippery on the way to the base of the falls.
Difficulty level: 1


Chuck Sutherland: Greeter Falls Hike

9. Greeter FallsAltamont

Greeter Falls Loop is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips. The falls themselves are impressive, with a 50-ft. plunge over a limestone ledge into a pool below. The best part is that the 1.6-mile loop trail to reach it is dog-friendly. Take your pooch on a fairly easy hike, but keep them on a leash.
Difficulty level: 1


Fiery Gizzard Hiking Trail, Tracy City, Tennessee

8. Fiery GizzardTracy City

Beginning at the Foster Falls parking lot, witness the 60-foot waterfall at the start. From the overlook, go to the right and cross the bridge to start the trail. Continue on the Fiery Gizzard Trail as it leads you deep into the old growth forest, across creeks that fall off the rock ledges. Don’t worry, there are bridge crossings for each creek, and the views atop the waterfall hikes are beautiful. In one easy 3.3-mile loop, you can experience five different waterfalls, two of which drop into fantastic outdoor swimming pools. Blue Hole Falls and Sycamore Falls are both only 10-12ft tall, but they offer plunge pools filled with a constant flow of cool, crisp mountain water.
Difficulty level: 2


Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, TN - Tennessee Vacation

7. Fall Creek FallsSpencer

Talk about waterfall hikes! At 256 feet, Fall Creek Falls is actually the tallest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi River. The best bang-for-your-buck hike for waterfall viewing is to walk along the Woodland Trail (0.9-miles). This trail is above Fall Creek Falls; add on the Gorge Overlook Trail (a 0.2-mile scenic bypass loop). Most of the day hiking trails are fairly moderate with smooth paths, solid footbridges, and rocky stairs. The view of the fall is great from the top, but a short hike down to the plunge pool below shows the power and volume of the flow. Just remember that you have to hike back up to the parking lot afterwards.
Difficulty level: 3


6. Cummins FallsCookeville

A well-known swimming hole about an hour and a half from Nashville, Cummins Falls State Park makes a fantastic day trip.There’s a 1.5 mile hike down to the falls, or you can take the shortcut that runs down the side of the overlook. If you take the climb down, be sure you’re wearing good hiking shoes and follow the well-worn path. Once you reach the falls, you’ll be greeted with a pretty surreal view of the falls as they cascade over a series of shelf-like rocks. Have a swim in the cool gorge water or lay out on the boulders.
Difficulty level: 3


Twin Falls at Rock Island State Park • Nurse to Nomad

5. Great Falls, Rock Island

The Twin Falls are located in Rock Island State Park downstream of the dam, with great overlooks of the falls where you park your car. Accidentally created when the Caney Fork River was dammed in 1916, the gorge water pours through the wall rather than over. Several easy-to-moderate waterfall hikes lead to different views of these remarkable falls.  How close you can get depends on the generation schedule of the dam. Check the TVA water release schedule before going.
Difficulty level: 3


Foster Falls (Tennessee) - 2020 All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go ...

4. Foster FallsSequatchie

A popular sport climbing destination for many regional climbers along the well-known Fiery Gizzard Trail, Foster Falls is a 60-foot free-falling waterfall that’s pretty much impossible to take a bad photo of. It’s only about an hour and forty-five minutes from downtown Nashville, and there’s a wide array of activities to be had here. When you arrive, there’s almost immediately a great overlook for you to take in the sites, and then you can head to the Climbers Loop that will take you down to the falls, which doubles as an excellent swimming hole. It’s a moderate descent with a lot of awesome overlooks on the way down, but save your energy because the climb back out is quite steep.
Difficulty level: 3


Ozone Falls

3. Ozone Falls, Crossville

Waterfall hikes can be famous. This was actually selected to be a filming location for a scene in the movie, Jungle Book. It feels secluded and almost otherworldly with water spilling over 110-feet from a rim of sandstone caprock. From the parking area, it’s a quick walk to the perilous edge of the 10-story falls, and then another short, steep, and slightly treacherous hike to the pool below. The view up of the roaring cascade is definitely worth the effort, and you can be back on the road to Gatlinburg in less than an hour.
Difficulty level: 4


Burgess Falls State Park — Tennessee State Parks

2. Burgess FallsSparta

Burgess Falls is a 136-foot beauty located on the Falling Water River that forms the centerpiece of Burgess Falls State Park. The classic 1.5-mile River Trail/Service Road Loop brings hikers next to four waterfalls within the park. Be warned: the descent can be pretty rigorous in spots, even with the assistance of a set of metal steps to carry you the last bit to the base of the big falls. However, ease your mind a little at the park website which frequently provides updates on the status of trail’s safety.
Difficulty level: 5



Virgin Falls - Waterfalls - Things To Do | Mountain Glen RV Park ...

1. Virgin Falls, Sparta

Virgin Falls is another set of falls found within a state natural area that also happens to be a 2.5 hour drive from Nashville. This waterfall hike is one of the most unusual waterfall hikes in the area, featuring no less than four falls on a nine-mile loop.Virgin Falls is a fascinating example of a spring-fed falls, with a creek flowing out of a cave over a cliff.  Particularly intrepid hikers can actually enter the two caves when the water levels are lower, but it is generally not recommended.
Difficulty level: 5



BONUS! Sliding Rock Recreation Area, North Carolina

Because summer travel is peaking, you may be heading to North Carolina, and if so, then you need to know.
Sliding Rock is located near Brevard and Asheville, North Carolina in Pisgah National Forest. Each summer, thousands of people line up to slip and slide down the natural mountain waterfall in the chilly water (50 – 60 degrees). The 60-foot sloping boulder makes it fun before sliders splash into an eight-foot-deep pool, swim a bit, then do it again. The natural slide is fueled by 11,000 gallons of flowing water a minute. You can slide year-round during daylight hours when lifeguards are on duty and changing rooms are open. The cost to enter the recreation area is $5 per person. Children 3 and younger are free.

DIRECTIONS: From Asheville (38 miles from downtown), drive I-26 East to Exit 40 for Highway 280 (and the Asheville Airport). Take a right onto Highway 280 West and go 16 miles toward Brevard. As you enter Brevard, watch for a big shopping center on the right (with Wal-Mart). Just past the center, turn right onto US Highway 276 North (Forest Heritage Scenic Byway) to enter the Pisgah National Forest. Go 7.6 miles to a parking area on the left. From the Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 412, take the US 276 South, about 7.5 miles.



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