Fall Creek Falls State Park is best known for it’s namesake falls, the highest waterfall in the eastern United States at 256 feet. The park itself covers 20,000 acres across the eastern top of the Cumberland Plateau in Bledsoe and Van Buren counties. It includes several waterfalls in addition to the main falls, along with cascades, gorges, and beautiful oak, hickory, tulip poplar, and hemlock forests. One of the park’s most popular trails, is a trail that leads to the base of Fall Creek Falls.
Entering Fall Creek Falls State Park, you’ll drive along winding, scenic roadways that take you past various overlooks of the gorge, as well as Fall Creek Lake.
On arriving at the parking area to the base trail, you’ll find a sign indicating that you have reached the trail leading to the overlook and base of the falls. Further up are bathroom facilities on your left, along with picnic tables so that depending on your arrival time, you can have lunch if you would like before descending to the base of the falls.
At the Falls Overlook, you can see that the waterfall plunge into the base of the gorge and during high flow conditions, another falls… Coon Creek Falls appears though it wasn’t present the day of our visit.
To the left of the overlook, begins the 0.4 mile steep trail to the plunge pool at the base of the falls. Most of the trail along the descent has a handrail and stairs are present, though there are extremely rocky areas where you may have to hop from one to another. The trail is suitable for small children and even pets on a leash. I would advise to simply take your time and take regular breaks along the way.
On reaching the bottom of the gorge, the trail continues along the steep rock walls and in areas, you get a feeling of natural air conditioning from the air moving out from between the large cracks in the wall.
As you approach the trail’s end, Fall Creek Falls can be seen from an opening in the trees before opening up to a final short descent to the pool at the base of the falls. From here, there are generally a fair number of hikers sitting on the rocks or wading in the pool, cooling off by the thick mist.
Make sure to take a good long break and get a drink snack before turning around and heading back up to the parking lot. The return trip is steep and generally more tiring than the trip down. When we were done, I asked the kids which of the falls we’ve visited was their favorite and they were all in agreement that Fall Creek was their favorite.