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Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

Fall Creek Falls State Park is located in between Nashville, TN and Knoxville, TN. For Thanksgiving I was visiting my parents, who now live in Tennessee, about 1 hour away from Fall Creek Falls. Since this park was so close, we couldn’t pass up a visit to check out the famous Fall Creek Falls waterfall.

Fall Creek Falls State Park is Tennessee’s largest and most visited state park, which encompasses 26,000 acres across the rugged Cumberland Plateau. There are several activities to participate in at this park: hiking, birding, visiting the Nature Center, camping, backpacking, visit the Golf Course, ride horses, and for the little ones, visit the playground. There is also a new zipline for the adventurous folks.

The highlight of Fall Creek Falls State Park is the waterfall. At 256 ft, it’s the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi. The water is controlled by the dam, so it’s almost guaranteed that the falls will be flowing. In Spring when the dam can’t control the volume of water melted by snow, the creek is gushing with water, and can sometimes create a double waterfall, split by trees above. The best time to take photos here is in the afternoon light, since the waterfall is south facing. This is an easy waterfall to view, as you can walk about 100 yards from the parking lot to the overlook. To really get a unique view, you can hike down to the base of the falls. Keep reading to view the route to the base.

If you are traveling from Knoxville, TN use this map, and if you are traveling from Nashville, TN, use this map.

Distance: 1 mile RT

Elevation gain: 266 ft

Time: 1-2 hours

Dog friendly? Yes, ON leash

Kid friendly? Yes

Fees/Permits? 

None, Tennessee does not charge to visit their state parks

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

 Entrance sign to the park.

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

 Using the park map, drive to the Fall Creek Falls Overlook. Walk about 100 yards to the overlook.

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

 During Thanksgiving, the water level was pretty low but viewing this waterfall was still epic.

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

This photo is from Waterfall Picture Guide, and shows how high the water level can be, and where the second (smaller) waterfall will sometimes appear. So beautiful!

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

 To get to the base of the waterfall, find the large dirt steps to the West.

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

You’ll hike down a staircase, then the trail will follow this wooden railing to the base. You will turn down one switchback.

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

 The trail down is rocky, but most people do fine on the trail. If you have bad knees you may find it more difficult.

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

 The trail then goes underneath this open “cave”.

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

 Eventually you’ll reach the end of the trail. From here, it’s fun to explore by hiking all around the rocks.

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

 Can you spot my mom in blue? This shows how big the gorge walls are.

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

It’s a great view from the base!

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast


My momma! No resemblance at all, right? 😉

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast


After hiking to the falls, we drove over to the Buzzard’s Roost overlook. You can also hike down about 50 feet to the actual perch. I felt like this provided for a better view of the gorge.

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast


Penny Adams Photography got this amazing shot of what the actual Buzzard’s Roost looks like from afar.

Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast


Our last stop in the park was the Cane Creek Suspension Bridge, which is 150 ft long and 20 ft above Cane Creek. The bridge connects to the trail to Fall Creek Falls. To get here, all you need to do is follow the signed path from the Cane Creek Cascade Overlook parking area. It should take you less than 10 minutes to reach this bridge.

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Hiking at Falls Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee , Best Waterfalls on the East Coast

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