Outdoor Adventures: Hiking Fall Creek Falls State Park in Pikeville, Tennessee

Surrounded by mountains and the Tennessee River, Chattanooga has plenty of activities to offer the sports and outdoor enthusiasts. The best time to explore the outdoors in this area is in the spring and fall, when the weather is cooler and less humid, and Mother Nature’s beauty is at its finest. One excellent place to spend a day outdoors with the family is at Fall Creek Falls State Park.

Fall Creek Falls is a popular state park in Tennessee. Located in Pikeville, it is about one and a half hours drive from Chattanooga. Fall Creek Falls State Park comprises over 20,000 acres of nature, complete with campground facilities, playgrounds, picnic and grilling facilities, creeks, cascades, waterfalls, suspension bridges and a nature center. If that isn’t enough, there is also a golf course, a lake and an inn.

We first visited Fall Creek Falls State Park in the spring of this year. It is such a huge park we actually got lost! We finally stopped by the inn to pick up some maps and get our bearings. After a lovely picnic by the lake, we drove over to Fall Creek Falls, and hiked the trail to the base of the waterfall. While the trail is only half mile long, it is a fairly steep descent to the gorge, meandering through thick forests, massive boulders and towering sandstone cliffs. At 256 feet, the impressive Fall Creek Falls is the highest waterfall in the eastern United States. As the water plunges downward, you can feel the spray from a hundred yards away. We were smitten by park’s beauty and planned to come back to see the fall foliage.

In early October, we took a different route to Fall Creek Falls State Park and came in from the town of Spencer. It took us out directly to the Nature Center. This part of the park has a playground, picnic tables, restrooms, a nature center, a suspension bridge and trails to Cane Creek Falls and Cane Creek Cascades. We spent some time hiking down Cane Creek Cascades, which tumbles down 45 feet into a swimming hole, no doubt popular in the summer. It was neat to see people walking on the suspension bridge over the cascades. From the swaying bridge, you can hike the easy .8 miles Woodland Trail to Fall Creek Falls, but we preferred to take the scenic drive so we can see the foliage. We were not disappointed.

At Fall Creek Falls, we first admired the gorgeous view from the top, then hiked the short, but steep trail down to the gorge. This time of year, there was less water, so we could walk all the way down to the base of the falls without getting soak. What an exhilarating hike and how beautiful! Fall Creek Falls is now our favorite state park, and we’ll be back.

More from this Contributor:
Fall Foliage Hiking in the Southern States
Hiking in the Spring in the Chattanooga area
Waterfall Guide to Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park

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