Waterfall Pro Tips:
- Bring two pairs of shoes, one for hiking and the other a water shoe to wear at the falls
- Keep your "day-bag" light. You will not want to carry a lot of stuff with you.
- Pack snacks, water, bugspray and sunscreen.
- Give yourself plenty of time to take in each waterfall — whether there's a piece of history, a cool stream or an amazing view, there's always a lot to explore!
- While it may seem like a good idea, do not bring alcohol with you. Some parks will fine you up to $50 per can of beer (I know from personal experience). Also, hiking and climbing around the falls can be dangerous, so you should be level-headed. It literally takes emergency crews 3-4 hours to reach some of these places.
Falling Water Cascades (20 feet), Little Falls ( 30 feet), Middle Falls (80 feet) and Burgess Falls (136 feet)
Why it's awesome: It's a 1.5-mile round-trip hike and you get to see three beautiful waterfalls on your way down to the fourth waterfall, Burgess Falls, which is breathtaking. You can swim in the "mermaid lagoon" (the technical term is "gorge") at the bottom of Burgess Falls and the area is rich with history. Kid and pet friendly
Distance from Nashville: 1 hour and 35 minutes on I-40; Located in Sparta, TN
Hiking: Easy/ModerateGreeter Falls Codie Gentry/ 12th & Broad
Lower Greeter Falls (10 feet) , Upper Greeter Falls (50 feet)
Why it's awesome: It's a 2.2-mile loop to see these falls and is a lesser known hiking area so it's not as busy as other falls. There's a picturesque blue lagoon swimming hole you can visit before you reach the Lower Falls where you can play in the water and look down onto Upper Greeter Falls. Before reaching Upper Greeter Falls, you have to climb down an enchanting spiral staircase which feels so out of place. Upper Greeter Falls is a picture-perfect waterfall, complete with swimming hole and when it's deep enough, I've seen people jump off the rocks into the swimming area. We suggest that before leaving the area, take the trail to Board Tree Falls (25 feet) and although it's dried up for most of the year, you'll get a kick out of the swinging rope bridge! If you're looking for a hike (8.4 miles round-trip) with a beautiful view, follow the trail past Board Tree Falls and head up to Alum Gap. Kid and pet friendly
Distance from Nashville: 2 hours on I-24; Located in Altamont, TN
Hiking: ModerateOzone Falls Codie Gentry / 12th & Broad
Ozone Falls (110 feet)
Why it's awesome: The top of the falls is located 100 feet from the parking lot and you can literally stand on the edge and look down. There's little warning or cautionary measures, so approach the top with extreme caution. It's a fifteen-minute hike from the parking lot and it plunges down 110 feet into an amphitheater-like gorge. The swimming hole disappears into an underground cave, and reemerges fifteen feet or so into a creek that is perfect for swimming. They even filmed scenes from Disney's live version of "The Jungle Book" in the '90s. Use extreme caution with children; pet friendly
Distance from Nashville: 2 hours on I-40; Located in Ozone, TN
Hiking: EasyRock Island Codie Gentry / 12th & Broad
Twin Falls ( 80 feet), Great Falls (12 feet) located in Caney Fork Gorge ("Rock Island")
Why it's awesome: Between the two falls there's tons of small and deep swimming holes, creek-like low areas and cliffs for jumping. Both falls were created when the Great Falls Dam was built in the early 1900s and there's some pretty neat history surrounding the dam and old Cotton Mill on the property. The best part? You can also camp, fish, kayak and hike at the State Park. Kid and pet friendly
Distance from Nashville: 1 hour and 40 minutes on I-40; Located in Rock Island, TN
Hiking: EasyCummins Falls Codie Gentry / 12th & Broad
Cummins Falls (65 feet)
Why it's awesome: Cummins Falls became a public park in 2012 and has been popular Tennessee attraction ever since. It has a 65-foot cascading waterfall complete with a crystal clear swimming hole and rock shelves for sitting and jumping. It was rated one of the top ten swimming holes in America by Travel and Leisure Magazine. It's totally worth the 2.5-mile hike, but fair warning: You're wading through water for most of the hike. We wouldn't suggest bringing young kids or pets, but only because we wouldn't want to lug them around.
Distance from Nashville: 1 hour and 25 minutes on I-40; Located in Cookeville, TN
Hiking: Moderate/DifficultFall Creek Falls Codie Gentry / 12th & Broad
Fall Creek Falls (256 feet)
Why it's awesome: It's the highest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi River and plunges 256 feet into a gorge. When there's been a lot of rain you'll see its sister fall, Coon Creek Falls (250 feet), flowing off of the right side of the rock. If you have it in you, we suggest making it a weekend trip. There is camping on-site, which allows you time to explore the other five waterfalls and all of the views each has to offer. (Cane Creek Falls (85 feet), Cane Creek Cascades (45 feet), Rockhouse Falls (125 feet), Piney Creek Falls (95 feet).
Distance from Nashville: 2 hours on I-40; Located in Pikeville, TN
Hiking: Easy to moderateFoster Falls Codie Gentry / 12th & Broad
Foster Falls (60 feet)
Why it's awesome: Foster Falls is a lesser known waterfall, so it's usually not too busy. You can camp for $11 a night and the area is known as the premiere rock climbing destination in the Southeast. Unfortunately, there's not much to offer new climbers because the area is full of strenuous 5.8-5.10+ climbs. The waterfall itself is beautiful and the gorge is nice and deep, which would be perfect for all of you thrill-seekers out there — there's plenty of rocks to for cliff jumping. Love to hike? The area surrounding Foster Falls is perfect for hiking and the hike down to the falls is a 2-mile loop, complete with a swinging rope bridge!
Distance From Nashville: 1 hour and 40 minutes on I-24; Located in Sequatchie, TN