OverviewCane Creek Gorge, located within the borders of Fall Creek Falls State Park, is an exceptionally impressive southern canyon. Formed by Cane Creek, the area is so steep and so rugged that not even the most aggressive foresters were able to profitably log the place before the area could be protected by state park status.
In addition to the striking topography of the canyon, it also bears some of the most impressive waterfalls in the East, with Fall Creek Falls tumbling an incredible sheer 256-foot drop between the lip of the canyon
Fall Creek Falls.and the pool below. Other falls in the South and East are higher in total, but none other has an equal single drop. There are a number of other great waterfalls in the park that are almost as impressive as Fall Creek Falls, and some of them are visible from easily accessible overlooks, or can be viewed after relatively easy hikes.
Beauty.The park that protects Cane Creek Gorge totals over 22,000 acres, making it the largest state park in Tennessee. Indeed, there is so much beauty and opportunity for recreation in this park that it equals some National Parks. Over 10,000 acres within the gorge are protected as virgin wilderness. Two long distance trails take the avid hiker well into the back country where you can find some true solitude.
For those interested, the gorge is home to what is likely the last groves of Eastern and Carolina hemlocks that are so far not infested with the hemlock wooly adelgid. Now would be a good time to view these magnificent old growth stands before the arrival of that invasive pest and the final destruction of these two tree species. Don’t delay—time is running out.
Rock climbing is allowed in the gorge, and one should contact the park office for details on rules for climbing. There is at least one trail dedicated to rock climbing access: the Copperhead Trail. The gorge is home to many, many high cliff faces that seem to be wonderful rock climbing opportunities.
In addition to hiking, climbing, and backcountry camping, the park also has a developed campground, cabins, a park lodge and restaurant, a 350-acre lake with canoe rentals. Fishing opportunities, a golf course, swimming pool, tennis courts, bike trails (both developed and semi-developed mountain bike paths), and at least one swimming hole along one of the perimeter roads. Basically, there is enough in this one state park to keep the avid outdoorsman busy for quite some time.
In addition to everything else, I have to say that this gorge is one of the most beautiful canyons I’ve encountered in all of my travels across the southeastern USA. To see the virgin forests is alone enough reason for a visit there. I can only highly recommend this park and this gorge to anyone interested in visiting one of the South’s wild places.
Getting ThereFrom Nashville take I-40 East to Cookeville (82 miles). Turn right onto 111 South (exit 288). Park entrance is on the left on Highway 284 (40 miles from I-40 to the park).
Fall Creek Falls.From Atlanta, take I-75 North to Chattanooga, take I-24 toward Nashville, take Hwy 27 North toward Dayton and follow Highway 111 North to the park entrance on the right.
Along the trail.No red tape or admission price to enter the park. There is a permit required to use the long-distance backpacking trails (one trail 12 miles long, the other 13 miles long).
fall creek video04.mpg
CampingThere is ample camping to be had in the park. Unless you are using one of two backpacking trails in Fall Creek Falls State Park, you must camp at the developed campground.
External LinksOfficial Fall Creek Falls State Park site.
Friends of Fall Creek Falls State Park.