Fall Creek Falls

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About

Summary

Fall Creek Falls is the perfect weekend getaway for the family and one of the best state parks in the southeast.

Written by

Rodger Ling

Distance

35.0 miles

There are 14 hiking trails in Fall Creek Falls State Park, which combine to create 35 total trail miles. From two overnight backpacking loops—the Upper Cane Creek Loop (14 miles) and the Lower Cane Creek Loop (13.2 miles)—to moderate 4 mile hiking trails, to easy half-mile strolls, there's something for every hiker at Fall Creek Falls.

Destination Distance From Downtown

42.5 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

0 days

You could spend an afternoon or an entire weekend exploring the 25,000 acres and 35 miles of hiking trails at Fall Creek Falls.

Seasonality

All Seasons

Each season brings something special to the park, but winter may just be the best time to go, as there are fewer people, and the water is often higher; meaning the waterfalls are plunging with full force.

Dog Friendly

Yes

Fees Permits

No

Camping fees apply. There are 222 different campsites in five different areas of the park, and rates range from $11-25. Permits are required for overnight backpacking on both of the Cane Creek Overnight Trails. There are no fees for day hiking.

Land Website

Fall Creek Falls

Review

Intro

Just an hour from Chattanooga sits 26,000 acres of pristine wilderness. Fall Creek Falls has been called the best State Park in the Southeast by Southern Living Magazine.

What Makes It Great

The park is a paradise of towering waterfalls, cascades, rhododendron tunnels, streams, deep gorges, and virgin hardwood forests of oak, hickory, hemlock, and poplar. The 256-foot Fall Creek Falls—the tallest waterfall East of the Rockies—is spectacular, but it is just one of four major waterfalls in the park. 

Sprawling and weaving among these woods and waterfalls are 35 miles of well-kept trails that offer something different for everyone. 

Most of the trails start near the North Entrance of the park, near the Betty Dunn Nature Center. The Woodland Trail, for example, is a popular 0.9-mile trail that leads from the nature center to the overlook above Fall Creek Falls, traveling through virgin hardwoods and crossing over a handful of trickling creeks along the way. To spice it up, the Gorge Overlook Trail (a 0.2-mile extension of the Woodland Trail) offers a lovely scenic bypass loop that takes hikers past some of the most scenic views in the park, including Cane Creek Falls, Cane Creek Gorge, and Fall Creek Falls from the opposite (less frequented) side of the gorge.

Other popular and worthy trails include: 

Base of Fall Creek Falls Trail (0.4 miles): From the Fall Creek Falls Overlook, the trail travels down a somewhat steep set a stairs and rocks and eventually terminates at the base of the falls. It offers a unique view of the highest waterfall East of the Rockies, and the mist from the falls can be felt on your skin. But remember: what goes down, must come back up, and even though it's short, it is a pretty steep climb back up.

Paw Paw Trail (2.7 miles): Starting at the nature center and traveling north towards Rockhouse Creek, this 2.7-mile loop offers exceptional views of Cane Creek Gorge and Cane Creek Falls. Along the way, hikers can choose to scramble down to the base of Cane Creek Falls via the 0.3-mile Cable Trail, a steep, rugged trail, which, as the name implies, requires the use of a cable. 

There are also two overnight backpacking loops that offer more solitude and views that the casual visitor doesn't get to see. Both can be done as a trail run or even as a long day hike, but they make for fantastic overnighters as well. 

The 14 mile Upper Loop offers solitude in the rolling hills on top of the plateau. The 13 mile Lower Loop trail includes a more difficult descent and climb out of the Cane Creek Gorge but is by far more scenic and popular.

Who is Going to Love It

Fall Creek Falls is a must-visit natural playground. Anyone and everyone will enjoy this state park. Whether you choose the simple strolls and the popular overlooks or the more intensive overnight backpacking trips that travel up and down steep gorges, there's something for everyone at Tennessee's largest state park.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

You can make camping reservations at tnstateparks.com/parks/campground/fall-creek-falls. You'll need a permit for backpacking, which you can get from the Nature Center near Cane Creek Falls. 

Location

Fall Creek Falls

10821 Park Road
Pikeville, TN, 37367
35.678971, -85.33909

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