Roughly half way between Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee, a series of magnificent waterfalls bisect the state in a line running North to South. Given their position, they make for excellent day trips from both major cities in Tennessee.* We ventured out to hit as many as we could in one day. That number wound up being two. But they were an amazing two and were accompanied by pleasant hikes through the fall foliage. First stop was Burgess Falls State Park. Which has not one, but four beautiful waterfalls.
Burgess Falls State Park is located on 350 acres along the Falling Water River in Sparta, Tennessee. Along this section of the river is the 20 foot descent of the cascades, 30 foot upper falls, 80 foot middle falls, and 136 foot lower falls. A 1.5-mile loop trail winds past each of these falls with vista points and even an old staircase to the base of the lower falls.
While most of the trail is easy, with only moderate inclines and declines, the final descent is steep with lots of steps. Fortunately, that descent is optional. Even without hiking to the base of the lower falls, one can have an excellent vista point to appreciate them. When we were visiting, the final staircase to the base of the giant falls was closed due to flood damage, but we could still hike down to the top of the falls and had an excellent view from a vista point along the trail.
It doesn’t make sense to rush along the trail. I particularly enjoyed myself at the very beginning of the hike where one could easily scramble down to the cascades. From the banks, I could hop between rocks for different perspectives of the cascades. Of my pictures from the hike, I would consider these my favorite.
Unfortunately, due to flood damage, the overlook for the upper falls and the staircase to the lower falls base was closed the day we arrived. All the same, the fresh morning air, clear blue sky, and fall colors made for an excellent day for hiking. As limited as the waterfall views were, we still caught some amazing perspectives well worth the hike. Yet, I found myself at the final vista, overlooking the lower falls and willing the sun to move and directly illuminate the falls. Sadly, I had neither a lever nor a place to stand that would let me move the earth relative to the sun, so I had to put up with some shady pictures.
The main Burgess Falls as seen from an overlook. Sadly, we couldn’t reach the base due to flood damage. Even above the main falls is a mini fall with lovely, striated rocks. Crawdad encounter at the top of the Burgess Falls. I wonder how often crawdads go over the falls.
* Sorry, Memphis, you’ll just have to settle for Elvis. Tough breaks.