This beauty of this trail makes for an incredibly scenic adventure through the Unicoi Mountains in Cherokee National Forest. When hiking Coker Creek Falls, expect to hear the hum of Coker Creek and the rush of the waterfalls along the way. There are tons of photo opportunities throughout and picnicking along the banks of the creek is a favorite activity among locals. Swimming spots also dot the entirety of the trail, so if you’re pining for a hike in the middle of summer but are worried about the heat, this is a great option.
What Makes It Great
Nestled in the Unicoi Mountains (part of the Southern Appalachians), this area flourishes with rhododendron, mountain laurel, and a variety of ferns in the spring and summer. Also, Coker Creek Falls is tucked into a corner of Tennessee that is the only spot in the state ever to have produced gold, so you might just catch a glimpse of people panning for it along your hike. In fact, gold was actually found here before the 49ers set out for California and the Wild West, so you might want to keep an eye out for a gold sparkle in the water yourself.
Once you’re on the trail, it’s easy to follow since it sticks close to the creek the entire way all the way to the Hiwassee River, but the hills and steep sections add a challenge to the trek. The best part? The waterfalls aren’t just one section of the trail that you reach at the end—it’s really a series of falls that stretch on for about a tenth of a mile along the trail. Near the falls, look through the lush forest for a large rock house to explore.
When you’re done with your hike, extend your experience by staying at Coker Creek Village, a retreat center that offers cabin rentals and activities galore (like whitewater rafting) to choose from. The spot is so gorgeous that people often elect to get married there.
Who is Going to Love It
If it’s a scorching hot summer day and you’re looking for a way to cool off, hiking Coker Creek Falls is a great way to accomplish your goals. Anyone looking for a sweet, swimming hole filled escape from summer will love this trail. It will probably be challenging for many, but it’s interesting and enjoyable enough that it’ll keep almost anyone entertained. Those with a penchant for the scenic and who love to get lost among the trees will be delighted every step of the way along this Cherokee National Forest hike.
Because there are some narrow sections along drop-offs, many people do not recommend this hike for kids or dogs.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Highway 68, turn onto County Road 625, and after about 0.75 miles, take a left onto Ducket Ridge (NFSR 22). After 2.25 more miles, turn left on NFSR 2138 and the trailhead will be at the end of the road.
There’s also plenty of parking available at the trailhead, so don’t worry about that.