Hiking to one of hundreds of waterfalls is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Tennessee. The Highland Rim and Cumberland Plateau are known for gorges, cascades, rock houses, and waterfalls snuggled into lush forests. Most falls are located in one of many Tennessee parks, such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Scroll to see the full list with photos or jump to the table of contents.


Virgin Falls and Big Laurel Falls

Virgin Falls and Big Laurel Falls

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Located on the Cumberland Plateau, a short driving distance from Chattanooga, Virgin Falls and Big Laurel Falls can be reached by a pleasant 9-mile loop hike through the Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness.

This easy hike will reward you with four waterfalls, many smaller subterranean tributaries, a cenote, and spectacular views. You will reach Big Laurel Falls after 2 miles. The trail goes around the huge mouth of the cave until reaching the forest floor.

Big Branch Creek flows underground away from the falls. One of the most interesting characteristics of the Pocket Wilderness is its karst rock, which forms fascinating features.

Virgin Falls is formed when the high-volume Big Branch Creek comes out of a cave and runs above ground for several feet, before plunging vertically 110 feet. Once it reaches the bottom, the water again disappears underground.

Virgin Falls Trail, Sparta, TN 38583

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Hen Wallow Falls, Tennessee

Hen Wallow Falls, Tennessee

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Located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the hike to Hen Wallow Falls runs through lush hemlock and rhododendron forest. The hike to the falls is a 4.4-mile roundtrip considered moderately difficult.

It starts at the Cosby Picnic Area as the Gabes Mountain Trail before a marked side trail takes you to the base of the falls through a series of steep switchbacks.

At the top of the falls, Hen Wallow Creek is only 2 feet wide before it drops 90 feet and spreads to 20 feet at the base. Look for salamanders at the base of the falls.

The waterfall freezes into a beautiful icy column during some exceptionally cold winters. Black bears can also be encountered in the area. More things to do in Gatlinburg

107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, Phone: 865-436-1200

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Ramsey Cascades, Tennessee

Ramsey Cascades, Tennessee

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The highest waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Ramsey Cascades can be reached by a wonderful 4-mile hike through a lush hardwood forest.

The hike is considered moderately difficult because of 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Most of the trail is pleasant walk through the forest and the only difficult and steep part is just before reaching the falls.

The fall spills for more than 1,000 feet over a series of large boulders. Ramsey Cascades is considered one of the crown jewels of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trailhead is located about 6 miles from Gatlinburg at the Greenbrier entrance to the park.

Near intersection of Highway 73 and Hwy 416, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, (website link)

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Indian Flats Falls

Indian Flats Falls

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The Middle Prong Trail is one of the most popular waterfall hikes in Great Smoky National Park. Indian Flats Falls is just one of the three major falls hikers pass by, in addition to many smaller falls and cascades.

The fairly easy 8-mile trail passes through a forest full of wildflowers, such as trilliums, violets, wood sorrel, toothwort, and foamflower.

The Middle Prong Trail used to be a railroad route for the lumber industry out of the small mountain town of Tremont.

You can see some town remnants along the way.

With an elevation gain of 1,140 feet, the trail is at times strenuous and in parts technical, but it is well worth it. Indian Flats Falls is magnificent three-tier waterfall with water dropping about 60 feet in total.

The top tier is the highest, dropping about 20 feet. The middle tier is close to the end of the trail. The trail can be very crowded in the summer.

Gatlinburg, TN 37738

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Grotto Falls, Tennessee

Grotto Falls, Tennessee

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Grotto Falls is the only waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains where the trail runs behind the falls. The beautiful 25-foot cascading fall can be reached by taking the Trillium Gap Trail off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

The 3-mile long round-trip trail is considered moderately difficult, with an elevation gain of 585 feet. It runs through a lush hemlock forest full of wildflowers.

You can see white violets, delicate stitchwort, and of course trillium. The shady, moist forest makes the hike very pleasant.

The trail passes over several small streams without any bridges before reaching the falls.

The best time to visit Grotto Falls is in spring, not only because of all the wildflowers but also because of the large volume of water that makes the fall truly magnificent.

Trillium Gap Trail, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, Phone: 865-436-1291

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Fern Branch Falls, Tennessee

Fern Branch Falls, Tennessee

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Located in a remote part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Fern Branch Falls is located in a steep ravine, a bit set off from the trail. It can be reached by an easy to moderate 4-mile round trip hike.

The trail follows Porters Creek and passes by Messer Farm, Smoky Mountain Hiking Club Cabin, Ownby Cemetery, and masses of wildflowers before reaching the falls.

The trail runs through a dense forest that makes it shady and pleasant. Many of the streams the trail crosses are full of fish, so some hikers take a break and throw in a fishing rod. Fern Branch Falls is not marked and is hidden by heavy brush.

It takes a bit of a scramble to reach the base of the fall in a heavily wooded ravine. The falls spill 40 feet down an almost vertical, moss-covered rock.

107 Park Headquarters Rd, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

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Laurel-Snow Falls

Laurel-Snow Falls

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Laurel Falls and Snow Falls are both located in the 2,259-acre Laurel Snow State Natural Area on the Walden Ridge of the Cumberland Plateau.

The trail follows cool, deep coves past historical ruins, blue holes, two massive waterfalls, and spectacular overlooks. From the trailhead, the trail runs for about 1.5 miles along Richland Creek, past some old mines and a reservoir.

The right fork off the trail along Laurel Creek reaches the 80-foot-high Laurel Falls.

The left fork runs for about a mile and a half before reaching the 35-foot Snow Falls and Buzzard Point with 300-degree views of the Cumberland Plateau. The trail is strenuous at times, with a series of switchbacks going uphill.

1098 Pockett Wilderness Rd, Dayton, TN 37321 (website link)

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Stinging Fork Falls, Tennessee

Stinging Fork Falls, Tennessee

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Stinging Fork Falls is located in Stinging Fork Falls State Natural Area near Spring City, Tennessee. The falls can be reached by the Stinging Fork Falls Trail.

The hike is moderately difficult and runs along a creek through lush woods and over mossy boulders. The first part of the trail is flat and easy until the fork in the trail. One branch leads to the falls and the other to a spectacular overlook.

Once you start walking towards the falls, the trail will start going down in a series of steep switchbacks before reaching the bottom of the 35-feet Stinging Fork Falls. The falls spill over a rocky ledge into a deep pool.

9000 Shut in Gap Rd, Spring City, TN 37381-7402

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Margarette Falls

Margarette Falls

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Margarette Falls is a scenic fan-shaped, 60-foot fall located in the Cherokee National Forest near Greenville, Tennessee. The falls can be reached by a trail that starts in an area that was once a thriving logging camp.

The first half a mile of the trail is an easy hike on a Forest Service road. The trail winds through large moss-covered rock formations, over and around many small falls and cascades, and is often slippery.

It makes four creek crossings as it runs through the gorge to the falls. The falls is magnificent combination of cascades and free-falling water over a steep rock face. More day trips from Knoxville

1362 Shelton Mission Rd, Greeneville, TN 37743 (website link)


Emory Gap Falls

Emory Gap Falls

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Located in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee, Emory Gap Falls can be reached by starting at the Panther Branch trailhead. It is an easy hike suitable for kids and older folks and is dog-friendly.

A short hike will take you first to the 12-foot Debord Falls just off the trail on the right side. There are wooden stairs that go to the bottom of the falls.

As the trail continues, it splits at one point to the Emory Gap Trail, which will take you to the falls.

The trail runs through lush forests full of wildflowers. The 24-foot-high Emory Gap Falls plunges over a rock edge onto boulders, and from boulders into a plunge pool, surrounded by a rock house.

964 Flat Fork Rd, Wartburg, TN 37887-3208, Phone: 423-346-3318

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Cummins Falls

Cummins Falls

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Located in Jackson County, northwest of Cookeville, the Cummins Falls State Park covers 282 beautiful acres which are home to the 75ft Cummins Waterfalls, the 8th tallest in Tennessee. The falls are located on the Blackbourne Fork State Scenic River, the Cummins Falls drop over several tiers of rock ledges before falling into a very popular swimming hole which has a small beach area. While entrance to the State Park is free, a charge has been implemented for those wanting to visit the gorge and the base of the falls. Entrance is limited to 100 people per day and you need to buy your permit on the website before arriving at the park. There is no charge to visit the overlook or to go hiking.

Cummins Falls State Park, 390 Cummins Falls Lane, Cookeville, TN 38501


Burgess Falls

Burgess Falls

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Located in the Burgess Falls State Park near Sparta, the Burgess Falls are well worth a visit. There are a total of 4 very beautiful waterfalls in the park, the tallest of which cascades quite spectacularly over a 130ft precipice into the gorge. All four falls are located on the Falling Water River. The surrounding state park offers good scenic hiking along a moderate trial of around 1.5 miles. There are pleasant and shady spots to enjoy a picnic and fishing on the river is rumored to be very rewarding. While swimming is not allowed at Burgess Falls, visitors can access the base of the falls by kayak from the Cane Hollow Recreation Area.

Burgess Falls, 4000 Burgess Falls Drive, Sparta, TN 38583, Ph. +1 888 867 2757


Jackson Falls

Jackson Falls

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The striking Jackson Falls were created over thousands of years by flooding and erosion. Originally, the Jackson Branch River flowed through the valley in the Natchez Trace Parkway and was quite distinct from the Duck River below. However, over time, the Jackson Branch was diverted to form a new channel and became one with the Duck River. Today visitors will find a beautifully sculpted cascade of 3 waterfalls, the tallest of which is around 20 foot. The waterfalls are located close to the Rock Furnace Trail, but you will need to go off-trail to see them. There is a steep and somewhat slippery paved trail to the base of the falls.

Jackson Falls, Natchez Trace Parkway, 404.7, Duck River, TN 38454


Bald River Falls

Bald River Falls

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The Bald River Falls cascade over a rocky precipice on the Bald River, a major tributary of the Tellico River in the beautiful Cherokee National Forest. The falls are around 90-100 feet tall, emptying into a pretty pool surrounded by rocks and greenery. What makes these particular falls worth finding is that you can see them perfectly from your vehicle, while crossing a bridge on Tellico Rd. However, if you would like to get a bit closer to the falls you can take a hike along the 5.6 mile Bald River Falls Trail which leads you around the river, passing several swimming holes and beautiful forested areas.

Bald River Falls, River Road, Tellico Plains, TN 37385, 423 253 8400


Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls

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The Ruby Falls are unlike most waterfalls you have visited. This amazing 145-foot curtain of falling water is located deep underground in the Ruby Falls Cave system inside Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga. The waterfall was discovered by accident back in 1928 and the cave was opened to the public a year later.

Over the decades many attractions have been added to the cave and visitors can enjoy a range of cave adventures, a zip line and remarkable views of the Cumberland Plateau. Tickets for the cave and waterfall tours can only be bought online ahead of your arrival. Lantern Walk Ghost Tours (for ages 12 and up) are available on certain Thursday and Sunday nights in September and October.

Ruby Falls, 1720 S. Scenic Highway, Chattanooga, TN 37409, 423 821 2544


Fall Creek Falls

Fall Creek Falls

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Located in Van Buren and Bledsoe counties, the Fall Creek Falls State Resort Park covers more than 30,000 acres on the Cane Creek Gorge, which is known for its many waterfalls and unusual geological formations.

The park is a very rewarding hiking destination, offering the opportunity to see several lovely waterfalls as they cascade over various rocky outcrops. The main waterfall is dramatic to say the least – it has a sheer drop of 256 foot, the tallest of its kind in the state. You can reach the base of the falls, where there is a plunge pool, via a short hike from the parking lot. Most visitors bring along a picnic and make a day of it.

Fall Creek Falls, 2009 Village Camp Rd, Spencer, TN 38585, 888 867 2757


Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

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Located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, Rainbow Falls drop 80 feet and produce a rainbow effect when the afternoon sun shines on their mist. These falls can only be observed by those willing to take on the moderately difficult Rainbow Falls Trail, which is around 5.4 miles out and back. Although fit hikers should have no problems, the trail does gain around 1,500 feet in elevation, which could be a problem for some.

The best time to visit Rainbow Falls is between March and November. Due to the presence of black bears and the difficulty of the terrain, animals are not allowed on the trail.

Rainbow Falls, Rainbow Falls Trail, Gatlinburg, TN 37738


Twin Falls

Twin Falls

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Located in the Rock Island State Park, the Twin Falls are a very attractive result of the damming of the Caney Fork and Collins Rivers back in 1925, to form the Great Falls Dam. What makes the Twin Falls a little different is that the water forces its way directly out of the walls of the gorge, rather than dropping over a rock ledge. The Twin Falls can be very dramatic, but hikers should take into consideration that the amount of water is controlled by the Great Falls Dam, which can cause significant variations in the flow rate at any given time.

Twin Falls, Rock Island State Park, 82 Beach Rd, Rock Island, TN 38581


Foster Falls

Foster Falls

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The Foster Falls can be found in the Foster Falls Recreation Area in Sequatchie, near Tracy City. The falls are impressive to say the least, dropping 60-feet into a deep pool, in the heart of this wild and wonderful hiking area. People come to the recreation area to see the falls and to explore the south end of the Cumberland Plateau. Foster Falls are one of the more easily-admired waterfalls in Tennessee, requiring just an easy hike through a particularly beautiful area. The hike will take you up to the top of the falls, then along a well-marked trail over the suspension bridge and down to the base of the waterfalls.

Foster Falls Recreation Area, 498 Foster Rd, Sequatchie, TN 37374


Ozone Falls

Ozone Falls

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Located in the Ozone Falls State Natural Area in Cumberland County, the Ozone Falls waterfall plunges over the edge of the Crab Orchard Mountains, dropping 110 feet into a rocky pool below. Remarkably, the Falls Creek then disappears underground and out of sight, emerging again several meters downstream. The area surrounding the Ozone Falls is particularly beautiful and some of the scenes from the Jungle Book were filmed in the area.

A short but fairly rugged hiking trail leads hikers from the top of the falls, down into the gorge and along the path of the Falls Creek, which is dotted with some very large rocks and many beautiful trees and plants.

Ozone Falls, Crab Orchard, TN 37723


20 Best Waterfalls in Tennessee :