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Eastern Tennessee: Hiking for Waterfalls

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

There are many beautiful waterfalls to discover while hiking in Eastern Tennessee. Here are some of the best hiking trails with waterfalls in the region. Plus a few you don't have to hike at all. I will have them grouped together in general areas for you. So, if you do it right you could see a few in one day from this list, or at least stay a few days in that area and see them all.


Great Smokey Mountains National Park- $14 entry fee per day

Grotto Falls
Grotto Falls
  1. Abrams Falls Trail - 5-mile round trip hike and has a 20-foot waterfall. The swimming hole can be considered difficult to swim in and warned against because people have drowned while trying to swim. You access this from the Cades Cove area.

  2. Rainbow Falls Trail - This 5.4-mile hike is considered moderate to difficult at times but the view is great with a stunning 80 foot waterfall. The trail continues on past the waterfall for another 4.5 miles. You can access the trail near Roaring Forks.

  3. Grotto Falls Trail - Less than 3-mile hike awaits you here with access from the Roaring Forks area. It is considered one of the favorites in the National Park. Still give yourself 2 to 3 hours to explore this 25-foot waterfall.

  4. Ramsey Cascades Trail - Round trip it is an 8 mile hike and is considered difficult and strenuous. It can take you up to 7 hours to do the hike. But the waterfall has a 100 foot drop so it is quite special to see. Trail access is located near the Greenbrier area.

  5. Laurel Falls Trail - The easiest hike to a waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains with a 2.4-mile round trip hike which will just take you a little bit over an hour to do. The waterfall is about 80 feet tall, and Cove Mountain Lookout tower is also located here.

Falls Creek State Park

These are part of the ultimate bucket list for anyone in Tennessee who loves waterfall hikes. They have camping and several swimming holes too along with a nature center, caves and so much more.

Cane Creek Cascades
Cane Creek Cascades
  1. Fall Creek Falls - Near Spencer in the Falls Creek State Park. This is the farthest west I will go on my list of waterfalls. One of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States at 256 feet tall, and the tallest east of the Mississippi River. The hike is short too, just 1 mile each way, taking about 30 minutes.

  2. Cane Creek Cascades - Located close to Falls Creek Falls and with a 45 foot tall waterfall this is beautiful. Overlook trail and several swimming places are nearby.

  3. Cane Creek Falls, a little bit different then the cascades listed above. The waterfall is 85 feet tall. Located near the Cascades and Rockhouse Falls.

  4. Rockhouse Falls is a 125-foot fall that is amazing to see. This is visible from Gorge Trail and a couple others in the area. The Overlook is only about a mile from the Nature Center.

  5. Piney Creek Falls is a 95-foot waterfall that has a trail with an overlook and the trail also goes to the bottom of the waterfall.

  6. Lost Creek Falls At 60 feet, this is a different waterfall, it plunges where water comes from a cave above the falls.

  7. Coon Creek Falls is 250 feet tall and is adjacent to Falls Creek Falls, so you see them both from the overlook.

Waterfalls between Sparta and Crossville TN

Wildcat Falls
Wildcat Falls
  1. Virgin Falls Trail - Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness. This is a strenuous 9-mile hike, located north of Falls Creek Falls State Park, at about 1 hour away. The trail is usually not too crowded because of the hike, so you get some great peaceful time here. It can take you 9 hours to get there and back if you take your time and enjoy it, so be prepared. This is another interesting waterfall as it also comes from a cave, drops into a 110-foot waterfall and then disappears into another cave. This area is an interesting geological feature.

  2. Wildcat Falls near Sparta but not in the Virgin Trails area You can actually see it from the road but do hike down to the base and look up at it. Located on Route 70 between Sparta and Crossville, there is a place you can pull over and look at the waterfall. Just be extremely careful because this is a highway.

  3. Rylander Cascades is part of the Lost Creek area mentioned above, but not actually in the Falls Creek State Park. This was once an underground stream. Park on Whites Cave Road in Sparta.

  4. Burgess Falls Trail - Burgess Falls State Park, is a very wide waterfall at times due to rain, located near Sparta, It's not a long hike at all

  5. Cummings Falls can be seen from the overlook for free near Cookeville TN, north of Sparta, but hiking in Canyon or swimming you will need a permit.


Erwin TN- Cherokee National Forest Area

Erwin is the city nearby, where you can see several waterfalls, several of which you can see in one day. This is why I listed them all near Erwin, it is a good home base for these waterfalls.

Sill Branch Falls
Sill Branch Falls
  1. Rock Creek Falls - A challenging yet scenic hike that rewards with a small but beautiful waterfall. This is a 1.5-mile round trip hike that crosses the creek several times so you will get your feet wet. So be prepared.

  2. Pine Ridge Falls - Is a nice short hike at 1.8 miles round trip, with a 25-foot waterfall. Tral can be muddy at times if there has been lots of rain and is located near the Sill Branch Falls

  3. Martins Creek Falls - This is about a 2-mile hike, uphill at the start, but that's great when you leave because that means it's downhill. You can go to the bottom of the waterfall if you like but be careful it can be tricky. This will take you less than an hour.

  4. Sill Branch Falls - This is a 2-mile round trip that takes you to a 20-foot waterfall. The best time to come is in the spring or fall, for the best amount of water flowing from the waterfall.

waterfall near Erwin
waterfall near Erwin

In addition, there are so many more to see in the Eastern Half of Tennessee locals suggest visiting Bald River Falls and another Wildcat falls in Tellico Plains, Meigs Falls in Townsend, Twin Falls near Walling, and Great Falls in Rock Island State Park Tennessee.


Remember, always take the necessary precautions when hiking such as wearing suitable footwear, carrying plenty of water, and informing someone of your hiking plans. Also watch out for bears, I have seen them several times in the Cherokee National Forest Area. Enjoy your adventure in the beautiful outdoors of Eastern Tennessee!





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Guest
Jul 11, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Waterfalls are so much fun. A great list of places to visit!

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