Short Springs State Natural Area - Hiking

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Short Springs Natural Area is a hidden gem situated between Tullahoma and Manchester, Tennessee. Featuring a variety of trails and waterfalls, this area is becoming increasingly popular.

Written by

Lauren Brooks


3.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

57.7 miles


3 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 hours


All Seasons

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits




Because of its location, Short Springs Natural Area doesn’t see as much traffic as some of the more popular hiking destinations in Tennessee. But don’t let that fool you—it’s definitely worth the trip. With a variety of trails, Short Springs Natural Area is great for beginners and more experienced hikers. You can even bring your pet along for an outdoor adventure in this natural area.

What Makes It Great

Short Springs State Natural Area is on 420-acres just north of Tullahoma, TN. This hiking area is great for everyone thanks to its variety of trails and moderate to lower traffic level. The trails are mainly located in wooded areas, so with plenty of shade, you don’t have to worry about getting too hot in the summer.

The trails here are not always very well-marked but the reward is worth it. If you choose to venture out to this hiking destination, keep your eyes open for some of the road markers and the different trailheads and junctions. Machine Falls Loop is the longest at 1.6 miles and can be a little tricky if you’re not experienced with steep terrain. The stairs leading down to the falls are steep and narrow so you’ll want to make sure you hold onto the railing as you make your way down to the falls. Once there, you’ve still got some work to do. You can venture along the bank of the creek or rock hop across to make your way to the base of the falls.

If you’re up for more adventure, you can also continue hiking to view the falls from the top of Machine Falls or add on some more mileage by venturing off to one of the other trails, such as Busby Falls loop and Adams Falls. Adams Falls branches off of Machine Falls Loop at one of the junctions—you’ll find the sign after the Machine Falls. This trail is much easier than Machine Falls Loop, and will add on 1.10 miles. The only trail it connects to is Machine Falls Loop, so when you return, you’ll finish on Machine Falls Loop.

On your way back to the trailhead, you’ll come across another junction that leads you to Busby Falls. This 0.70-mile hike will take you down near Bobo Creek and to the beautiful Busby Falls. If you’re looking for more adventure, you can take the junction that will lead you to Laurel Bluff. This adds another 1.5 miles to your trip and does not connect directly to Machine Falls Loop. Take this path, and you’ll need to make your way back to Busby Falls Loop and then to Machine Falls Loop to return to the trailhead and parking area.

The total loop distance for Machine Falls, Busby Falls and Adams Falls is only 3.05 miles, making it a great hike if you’re looking to hit each trail!

Who is Going to Love It

Hikers and families looking for an adventure or just a day out of the house will find Short Springs Natural Area the perfect spot. Venture out to Machine Falls and Busby Falls to find cascades and creeks where the kids can wade. Families with small child can opt for a more flat hiking surface with some of the other trails.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The trailheads in Short Springs Natural Area can be a little difficult to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for as they are marked by a small sign. You’ll want to make your way to Short Springs Rd. in Tullahoma and pull off where the road meets Powell Rd. You should notice a large water tower that sits near a gravel lot.

Park here, and reference the trail map to determine which hike you want to take. Keep in mind that some of the trailheads are actually a brief walk up the road from the parking area.

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Short Springs State Natural Area

35.409037, -86.182

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