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In this beautiful state, there are plenty of breathtaking waterfalls to discover. There are over 300 in total!
It can be challenging to choose which waterfalls to visit first when there are so many to choose from! This guide will help you plan your next adventure by listing some of the best waterfalls.
1. Ruby Falls
The colorful and romantic spectacle of illuminated Ruby Falls is so popular that viewing it on a guided tour requires making a reservation. The tallest and deepest accessible underground waterfall in the United States draws visitors to this attraction less than five miles from Chattanooga.
Begin your adventure by taking a glass-front elevator down 260 feet from Cavern Castle into Lookout Mountain.
The stunning, naturally occurring rock formations of stalagmites, stalactites, and drapery formations can be seen along the short, paved cavern walk.
Ruby Falls, a 145-foot cascade located 1,150 feet below the mountain’s surface, takes approximately 60 to 80 minutes to reach. (It is more likely to walk and stand than sit and rest.)
Enjoy views from the 70-foot Lookout Mountain Tower and Blue Heron Overlook when you return to the visitor center above ground. Avoid traffic by booking a tour early in the day during peak hours.
2. Cummins Falls
Cummins Falls, a 75-foot waterfall with two levels and a large pool at the bottom is beholding. It has been a famous swimming hole for locals for over a century and is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Tennessee!
Although the overlook provides a good view of the falls, many visitors prefer to hike to the bottom of the falls for a swim. The hike to the falls’ base is a strenuous one that requires navigating slippery rocks and crossings of running water. The strenuous hike is well worth the reward of swimming at the base of this lovely waterfall.
Did you know that Cummins Falls State Park is only a 1.5-hour drive from Nashville?
Cummins Falls, the centerpiece of the state park, is an impressive sight. The falls plunge approximately 100 feet over a basalt cliff, 150 feet. The rushing water is surrounded by lush greenery, making for a tranquil atmosphere.
In this photograph, Cummins Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls, cascades over a cliff into a flowing river.
3. Burgess Falls
Burgess Falls is the fourth in a series of waterfalls that grow in size as you progress through the series. It may be easy or moderate for visitors who are not afraid of stairs, even though it is rated as strenuous. The 1.5-mile River Trail and Service Road Loop can be found from the visitor center of Burgess Falls State Park, a day-use park.
Burgess Falls is one of the best waterfalls near Nashville, and it’s only about an hour’s drive from the city center!
This magnificent waterfall is composed of four distinct cascades that plunge 130 feet into a natural gorge of the Falling Water River and is one of Tennessee’s most spectacular waterfalls! Burgess Falls, at 130 feet, is one of Tennessee’s most beautiful waterfalls.
Burgess Falls is awe-inspiring to visitors due to its massive size and breathtaking beauty. There is a large pool at the bottom of the falls where you can cool off on a hot summer day and plenty of rocks to lounge on and take in the breathtaking views. There is also an overlook where you can stop and take in the incredible natural beauty on the way down.
4. Fall Creek Falls
With more than 200 waterfalls, choosing a favorite is not easy. But if forced to pick, I’d head to Fall Creek Falls State Park in Middle Tennessee.
The 256-foot High Falls here are the standout attraction, but the park also boasts several other waterfalls, including the 120-foot-high Lower Falls, the 252-foot-high Piney Creek Falls, and the 120-foot-high Cane Creek Falls, and the 120-foot-high Cane Creek Cascades.
The standout waterfall at Fall Creek Falls State Park is Fall Creek Falls, with 256 feet. This isn’t a super-high waterfall, but it’s one of the most impressive waterfalls for a few reasons.
First, it’s located right off the main parking lot, making it very easy. Second, it has a relatively narrow channel, which means the water spills over onto a small platform instead of crashing over the edge.
5. Cane Creek Falls
Cane Creek Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls is also located within Fall Creek Falls State Park! Although it is not as well-known as the park’s namesake waterfall and requires a little more effort to reach, it is well worth a visit!
Although Cane Creek Falls can be seen from the overlook near the state park visitor center, many visitors prefer to take a short hike for a better view. This lovely hike winds through the forest and over a suspension bridge, passing Cane Creek Cascades and Rockhouse Falls before arriving at a viewpoint at the top of Cane Creek Falls.
6. Twin Falls
Twin Falls, one of the fascinating waterfalls located in Rock Island State Park, is an unintentional beauty, resembling a broad wall of water leaking from the limestone cliffs along the Caney Fork River.
In 1925, the Great Falls Dam was built to generate hydroelectric power, and the “accident” occurred. Excess water from this engineered project was naturally diverted to a broad swath, where it shot 80 feet to the river below.
After entering the park, look for signs to Twin Falls. A short, easy trail leads down to the river’s edge, where a leafy path runs parallel to the shore.
Pay attention to warning signs warning of high, fast-flowing water when the dam is released. However, you can usually safely walk onto the riverbed for a clear view of the falls.
7. Foster Falls
Within South Cumberland State Park, you’ll find this breathtaking waterfall. Foster Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls and it’s a great day trip or overnight camping destination from Chattanooga.
This waterfall cascades 60 feet into a natural gorge, forming a large pool ideal for a summer swim! From below, take in the breathtaking view of this powerful waterfall while admiring the wild azalea and mountain laurel that grow all around.
Foster Falls is a beautiful and scenic hike that requires crossing a suspension bridge through the trees. Before continuing down a steep, rocky path to the base of the falls, the trail leads to an overlook with a stunning view of the falls below.
Wear comfortable shoes and save your energy for the ascent back up.
8. Ozone Falls
This magnificent waterfall is one of Tennessee’s most spectacular attractions. The Jungle Book movie chose Ozone Falls as a filming location because it is so beautiful!
Fall Creek, which drops 110 feet into a bright blue pool of water before disappearing underground and reappearing further downstream, includes Ozone Falls. A beautiful naturally formed cave has been carved into the rock by erosion over time behind the falls.
To get to Ozone Falls, walk from the parking area to the top of the falls and follow the short trail to a viewpoint. A rocky trail leads down to a lower vantage point, where you can look closer. Because the trail is short but steep, and there are no guardrails, it is recommended that you proceed with caution and wear sturdy footwear.
9. Bald River Falls
In its final surge, the Bald River tumbles 90 feet to a pool, rushes under the bridge beneath your feet, and empties into the Tellico River. The Cherokee National Forest’s grandeur is all around you.
Baby Falls is a short walk up the Tellico River. Take a moment to appreciate the visual sweep and roaring power of water at your toes by pausing on a large limestone rock. This is one of the most outstanding and accessible natural features in a spectacularly beautiful area.
Combine a visit to Bald River Falls with a drive up the Cherohala Skyway, a mile high and 43 miles long.
Bald River Falls is worth visiting in any season, with its stunning natural scenery changing with the seasons. Visit in the summer to hike to the bottom of the falls and swim in the cool water, or in the fall to see the vibrant Tennessee foliage from the Cherohala Skyway.
This 100-foot waterfall cascades into a gorge with a large shallow pool below. The best vantage point is from the road, which offers excellent photographic opportunities. Hike to the top of the falls, swim in the natural pool, or have a picnic next to the Baby Falls nearby.
10. Laurel Falls
An 80-foot waterfall that sparkles on a sunny day in the mountains will greet you at the top of your climb. Laurel Falls is reached via a 1.3-mile hike rather than a gorge or ravine. Many visitors try to include Laurel Falls in their itinerary, visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The trailhead is located seven miles west of Gatlinburg on Fighting Creek Gap Road, west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. When you get to Laurel Falls, cross a concrete bridge that connects the upper and lower falls.
Enjoy the cool mist of the falls and the lush rainforest surroundings, including considerable mountain laurels and rhododendrons that bloom in the spring.
One of the most popular hikes in the park is the trail to Laurel Falls. Arrive early in the morning to get the best views of the waterfall and take in the breathtaking scenery without the crowds. Other nearby waterfalls to visit include Cataract Falls and Mannis Branch Falls if you have extra time.
11. Greeter Falls
Greeter Falls can be found in the Savage Gulf area of South Cumberland State Park if you’re looking for a backcountry hike.
Savage Creek, which drops 30 feet at Savage Falls, is also in Savage Gulf. This waterfall cascades down 50 feet from a 15-foot upper ledge into a large basin. The gorge is so steep that accessing the lower falls requires descending an artificial spiral staircase.
There are more cascades, waterfalls, and water wonders to explore between the two waterfalls.
12. Rainbow Falls
The strenuous hike that leads to Rainbow Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracts many visitors. Another appealing feature is that much of the 5.1-mile round-trip trail runs alongside LeConte Creek.
Rainbow Falls has the steepest drop of any waterfall in the Smoky Mountains, plunging 80 feet to a beautiful pool below.
The creek is crisscrossed by footbridges, which will enchant you. On a sunny day, look for gold at the end of the rainbow that rises from the mist at the falls. While seeing the falls is best after heavy rain, be prepared for muddy and wet conditions.
13. Cataract Falls
Despite being the most miniature waterfall, Cataract Falls is one of the most popular due to its proximity to Gatlinburg and the northern entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Walk the first half-mile of the Cove Mountain Trail hiking trail to the base of the falls, which begins at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
The Cataract Branch, which flows like a stream from the direction of the falls, runs alongside the level path leading to Cataract Falls. This gentle cascade can be found in a setting surrounded by flowering rhododendrons in the springtime.
14. Virgin Falls
Virgin Falls, with its fascinating geographical formations and serene natural setting, is one of the unique waterfalls. It’s also only 2 hours away from Chattanooga and Nashville, making it a great day trip from either city.
This waterfall is one of the most difficult to access in the state, requiring a nearly 9-mile roundtrip hike on a rocky trail. Before reaching Virgin Falls, the trail goes to Big Laurel Falls, Sheep Cave Falls, and Big Branch Falls. The trail is well worth the effort and is one of Tennessee’s best waterfall hiking trails.
Virgin Falls is a unique geological wonder in Tennessee. This waterfall is created by an underground stream that emerges from a cave and flows 110 feet over a rock cliff before disappearing into a sinkhole below. There are numerous natural caves to explore along the trail and throughout the area.
This photograph shows Virgin Falls, one of Tennessee’s most beautiful and unique waterfalls.
Tennessee has it all when it comes to waterfalls, from misty moss-covered giants to delicately sculpted powerhouses. So, grab your hiking boots and your camera. And don’t forget to dress for the weather! Tennessee is known for its unpredictable weather, so you never know when a thunderstorm will roll in and dampen your plans for the day.
The state of Tennessee is rich in natural beauty, with waterfalls, mountains, caves, and more. This guide only scratches the surface of what the state has to offer in terms of natural beauty, but it should give you an idea of what to expect when exploring the outdoors in Tennessee.
It’s also worth noting that while this guide is focused on waterfalls, there are many other forms of natural beauty to be found in the state, such as mountains, caves, and forests.