Feel Good Fun at Fall Creek Falls

July 8, 2022  |  Permalink

As one of Tennessee’s most popular and visited state parks, Fall Creek Falls has a lot to offer. From the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi to incredible views and opportunities for paddling, hiking, swimming, and more, the possibilities for exploration are seemingly endless within the park’s 30,000 acres. Follow along with us as we share just a handful of things to do in and around this iconic park.

This guide was co-written with our friends at Cumberland River Compact's Basin Field Guide. To learn more about our partnership, read the statement at the end of the guide.

 

Camping Cleanup

Fall Creek Falls State Park • 2009 Village Camp Rd, Spencer, TN 38585

Fall Creek Falls is one of Tennessee’s most popular state parks featuring rushing waterfalls, expansive overlooks, and state-of-the-art amenities. Each year, an abundance of visitors from across the world visit the park, eager to experience all it has to offer. 

While the excitement of experiencing these beautiful natural spaces runs high, visitors can lose sight of the importance of minimizing their impact while outdoors. Whether you’re in the backcountry or your own backyard, good habits like properly disposing of your waste are vital to keeping the outdoors clean and healthy for all the people, animals, and ecosystems that depend on it.

So how can you minimize your impact? Follow the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace. The principles cover seven topics and provide detailed information for minimizing impacts that you can use each time you head outdoors.

Beyond reducing your personal impact while outdoors, you can go the extra mile to help keep the outdoors litter-free by volunteering. Coming up soon, you can join the Cumberland River Compact for a weekend of camping, recreation, and environmental stewardship at Fall Creek Falls on July 23-24, 2022!

During the event, volunteers will hit the lake in kayaks, provided by the Compact, for a litter cleanup of the water and shores. In exchange for cleaning up, volunteers will receive a free campsite– courtesy of the park– and ranger-led nature programming. Volunteers will also have the chance to explore the park and all the amazing sites it has to offer. Registration is required and available at the link below.

REGISTER


Gear Up at Sunseeker Outfitters

Sunseeker Outfitters • 211 West Bockman Way Sparta, TN

Located about forty minutes outside the state park in Sparta, Sunseeker Outfitters is the perfect first stop before the start of an adventure at Fall Creek Falls. Owner Samantha takes her experience as a professional outdoor guide and fitness instructor to provide customers with the local expertise and gear they need to explore the area’s natural sites. 

Inspired by her own experience with chronic illness, Sam uses her training as a personal trainer to empower folks to feel strong in the outdoors. Sunseeker offers fitness classes and guided river trips along the Calfkiller and to the area’s abundance of state parks and waterfalls, including Fall Creek Falls! Sunseeker aims to connect customers with the local expertise and conservation practices to ensure the responsible recreation of these areas.

In need of some gear to explore the state park’s many waterfalls, rivers, and lakes? The outfitter offers kayak and paddleboard rentals, too.


Visit the Iconic Fall Creek Falls

Fall Creek Falls Overlook • Fall Creek Falls Overlook Trail, Pikeville, TN 37367

The park’s biggest claim to fame is being home to one of the tallest waterfalls in the Eastern United States, Fall Creek Falls. This 256’ waterfall is one of the most spectacular sites in Tennessee. You can experience the falls from above at an overlook adjacent to the Fall Creek Falls Overlook parking lot. The overlook is a great spot for photos and doesn’t require any hiking to access. 

There is also a difficult trail descending approximately ½ of a mile to the base of the falls. At the base, you can wade in the river and observe the falls up close. Make sure you’re wearing good shoes for hiking as the rocks at the base are slippery from the waterfall spray.


Cool Off Under Waterfalls

Betty Dunn Nature Center • 10821 Park Rd, Pikeville, TN 37367

If you’re looking to cool off at the base of a waterfall, head over to Cane Creek Cascades located right behind the Betty Dunn Nature Center. Cane Creek Cascades is a gushing waterfall that sits just above the 85-foot Cane Creek Falls. Enjoy the cool mist from one of the large rocks at the base or take a plunge into the bubbling pool. Above the cascades, you’ll see a long suspension bridge stretching over the width of the falls. This bridge offers an incredible view of the cascades from above and connects to the Woodland and Gorge Overlook Trails that lead to Fall Creek Falls.

If swimming below a rushing waterfall isn’t your speed, opt for a dip at the park’s swimming pool or the swimming area near the campground. The swimming pool is open to the public for a small fee. The swimming area is a natural pool of water surrounded by beautiful rock walls. This is a popular spot to cool off and lay on the small sandy beach near the water.


Dinner and Drinks with a View

The Lodge at Fall Creek Falls • 2536 Lakeside Rd, Spencer, TN 38585

After a long day, you’re probably looking for some air-conditioning, a fresh meal, and a cold drink. Head over to the park restaurant located inside the brand new Lodge at Fall Creek Falls.

The restaurant offers an array of entrees, salads, sandwiches, and crowd-pleasing appetizers. There is also a lounge area with a full-service bar and incredible views of the lake. Enjoy your meal with a cocktail or local beer inside or on the outdoor patio.

LEARN MORE


Honey’s

Honey's • 172 College St, Spencer, TN 38585

If you’re looking for a pick-me-up outside of the park, Honey’s, in nearby Spencer, is the perfect place to go. 

The cute cafe offers fuel in many different forms: homemade ice cream, coffee, frappes, milkshakes, baked goods, and daily lunch specials are all on the menu. You really can’t go wrong with whatever you choose to indulge in, but locals especially rave about their milkshakes and selection of homemade baked goods. Check their Facebook page for daily specials!


Sunrise at Buzzard’s Roost Overlook

Buzzard's Roost • Scenic Loop Rd, Pikeville, TN 37367

Before you head home, you’ll want to catch the sunset at Buzzard’s Roost Overlook. In the early morning, this is a serene space to watch the fog roll through the gorge as the sun rises overhead. Buzzard’s Roost is located next to the popular Milikan’s Overlook. Both overlooks offer incredible views, but Buzzard’s Roost offers more solitude.

About the author

This guide was written in partnership with the Cumberland River Compact.

There are more than 20 Tennessee State Parks within the Cumberland River Basin, each with its own unique history, features, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. All of these parks rely on clean water to support the humans and creatures that visit and call them home. Tennessee State Parks has partnered with the Cumberland River Compact to bring you guides that highlight the best features of parks around the basin, along with the communities that surround them. We hope these guides will encourage you to support the vision of clean and abundant water for our Cumberland River Basin by visiting these parks whose vision is to protect and preserve the unique natural, cultural, and historic resources of Tennessee.

About Erin O'Farrell

Erin O'Farrell is an Americorps member at the Cumberland River Compact in Nashville, TN. Aside from serving for the Compact, Erin enjoys spending time outdoors and exploring the Cumberland River Basin throughout Tennessee and Kentucky.

About Brenna Sharpe

Brenna Sharpe is the Digital Marketing Manager for Tennessee State Parks, based in Nashville, TN. When she's not indoors hanging out with her two cats, you'll find her out exploring the beauty of Tennessee.

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