Lost Creek Falls is part of the Lost Creek State Natural Area and is fed from water emerging from a cave (Lost Creek Resurgence) that tumbles 60ft before disappearing into the ground below. In times of high flow, the water can spill across the sinkhole where it is located and into the mouth of Lost Creek Cave (which is also known as White’s or Dodson Cave).
The earliest writings of the area are from the “History of White County” by Rev Monroe Seals The Sparta Civitan Club in 1935, which outlines how John White (a Revolutionary War Veteran) was awarded the land that now includes Lost Creek State Natural Area by the government and chose to homestead there. The book explains that by 1811 White was holding 572 acres in the valley and that the land included a “sinkhole spring” that was a water source for hims family and the location where his daughter was reportedly ambushed by Native Americans. It also mentions that a grinding mill was erected in the sinkhole of the “Dodson’s Chapel” cave in 1808 and it’s assumed that saltpeter mining may have taken place at the cave.
In present times, the land now know as Lost Creek State Natural Area was owned by James and Lillian Rylander until his death when they transferred it to the public for the area’s protection and the enjoyment of the public. It is managed by TWRA, the Tn. Division of Forestry, and Fall Creek Falls State Park.
In 1993, Disney filmed scenes for the live action version of “The Jungle Book” here and erected a 20-foot high styrofoam Hindu temple lion in the entrance of the cave as well as a monorail system on slope of the sinkhole. When filming was complete, the monorail was dismantled, and the lion was used by a Cookeville fraternity house to serve as its mascot.
|Photo Courtesy of April Moore, with Anthony Olberding in the photo|
This summer, as part of my family waterfall scavenger hunt, we visited Lost Creek State Natural Area. The side road leading off to the parking area can be easily missed but the Google Maps coordinates are in fact correct so in visiting just be sure to have the offline area of the map downloaded since there is little to no coverage (even for Verizon).
Lost Creek Falls and Lost Creek Cave are an extremely short hike from the parking area. There is a walk down so well laid stairs
Lost Creek Cave can be seen as you descend the trail and stairs from the parking area and you can feel the cool air rushing out.
Once you are at the bottom of the stairs, the falls can be seen through the trees and after a short walk it opens up to an amazing view of the falls.
Before you leave, you can walk opposite of the falls towards the cool air blasting out of Lost Creek Cave. Entrance however requires a permit to be filed with Fall Creek Falls State Park.