(Last Updated On: December 2, 2022)

clear water below a waterfall at Fall Creek Falls State Park

Being one of the most visited state parks in Tennessee, Falls Creek Falls State Park has every reason to be added to your outdoor plans. The park is heaven for anyone who is looking to experience nature in its majestic wonder. The park boasts waterfalls, and gorgeous stands of virgin hardwood, gorges, cascades, and streams.

Fall Creek Falls State Park is situated in Bledsoe and Van Buren counties, 18 miles west of Pikeville and 11 miles east of Spencer. You can enter the park from Highway 11 and Highway 30. The 29,800-acre park is one of Tennessee’s largest state parks. Its namesake Falls Creek Falls is a 256 feet waterfall and is considered one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States. The other waterfalls in this park are Cane Creek Falls, Piney Falls, and Cane Creek Cascades.

Park History

Fall Creek Falls State Park’s history started in 1937 when the federal government bought the badly eroded land around Fall Creek Falls. This was followed by a devastating flood in 1929 that wiped out most of the residents, mills, bridges, and vegetation. The very next year, the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began restoring the forest and constructing park facilities. The park was transferred to the ownership of the State of Tennessee in 1944 by the National Park Service.

If you were planning a getaway for the weekend or several days, Fall Creek Falls State Park is well-prepared for your stay. The park has 30 cabins, 222 campsites, and the Lodge Fall Creek Falls which contains 85 rooms. With a permit, you could also go backcountry camping.

In this park, there are activities for all ages and abilities. The park has 4 playgrounds, 5 covered pavilions, and an Olympic-sized pool with a wading area that’s open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Hikers have more than 56 miles of trails to explore. They can take short walks or opt for long walks around the lake to the base of Falls Creek Falls. If you are up for more adventure, there are two long-distance overnight trails. The day-use trails have been designed to accommodate everyone, young and old, whether for recreational or educational activities.

Another incredible feature at Falls Creek Falls State Park is the Nature Centre which offers hands-on educational programs for individuals and families. The programs include organized games, art and crafts, movies, live musical entertainment, and campfires. The park also provides extensive programs for school groups that educators can use for some great learning outdoors. The park facilitates environmental education using its extensive natural resources. Falls Creek Falls State Park serves as a great outdoor classroom.

Golfers will enjoy the Falls Creek Falls Golf Course which is quite popular. The beautiful 18-hole golf course is challenging and is known as one of the best golf courses in Tennessee. The park has a pro shop that offers golf supplies, rental clubs, carts, and golf lessons for beginners.

For adrenaline junkies or just you looking for an adventure, Falls Creek Falls State Park has so much in store for you. The Canopy Challenge Course includes over 75 wobbly bridges, cargo nets, rope swings, zip lines, and balance beams with different levels of difficulty. The canopy challenge will have participants going through an aerial adventure course that’s connected to a flexible lifeline system. The system uses smart-belay technology that ensures connectivity with overhead belay cables.

There is cooked food available at the Village pool snack bar and FCF Golf Course Pro Shop. If you want to cook for yourself, you can shop for groceries at the camp store in the Village. There are also plenty of souvenirs to take with you such as a Fall Creek Falls t-shirt, and caps among others at the two gift shops located at the park office and the camper check-in building.

sunset behind lone tree at Fall Creek Falls State Park

Activities

The best part about this park is that it has activities for everyone as mentioned earlier. It caters to all ages and offers different levels of activity. You can choose to be as busy as you want or just lounge and rest and admire the scenery.

The park offers hiking, swimming, boating, the canopy challenge course, biking, and rock climbing among others. Below are the activities provided by Falls Creek Falls State Park.

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing in Falls Creek Falls is at Copperhead Rock. It’s located near the Fall Creek Falls Overlook and can be accessed through the Copperhead Rock Climbing Area. This is a popular place for top roping and rappelling. The routes are varied for both beginners and more advanced climbers.

The routes at Copperhead Rock range from 5-5 to 5-10 from 25 feet to 60 feet tall. The rock has plenty of secure anchor points for top roping. Make sure you don’t leave your gear unattended. Like most Tennessee parks, rock climbing at Falls Creek Falls State Park needs a permit. Remember to apply for a license online before you arrive at the park.

Canopy Challenge Course

This challenge will literally have you racing through the treetops of this mixed hardwood forest. If you have ever wanted to feel like you are on top of the world, join this challenge. It’s perfect for that adrenaline rush that makes you feel alive. The thrill is one of a kind and there are a variety of activities involved so you can spend as much time as you need experiencing what it feels like to float over a dense canopy.

You can start with zip-riding which is 2.5 hours of blood pumping so loudly in your ears as you cross bridges, climb trees and lose your breath racing high up in the air. Put your muscles to the test at the 70+ aerial obstacles including wobbly bridges, ladders, cargo nets, rope swings, zip lines, and balance beams.

There are six different 8-to-13 elements in the routes that range from serene to extreme which you can freely explore after undergoing thorough instruction at Ground School. It’s a self-guided adventure that is supervised and encouraged by well-trained guides.

Although it is the perfect course for adrenaline junkies, there are also options available for children and seniors with moderate to good health. The park also encourages large groups through group pricing. You can purchase your ticket on the ground or reserve it online.

Fallen tree in front of Cane Creek Falls at Fall Creek Falls State Park

Boating

There are aluminum Jon boats for rent year-round but be sure to bring your own trolling motor and battery. Privately owned boats or gasoline motors are not allowed on the lake. However, visitors are allowed to bring their own canoes and kayaks year-round.

Canoes, paddle boats, and kayaks are also available for rent from April through October. The park also offers guided pontoon boat tours seasonally.

Here are the rates for rentals:

  • Canoe: $10 hourly. $35 full day
  • Kayak – Single: $10 hourly. $35 full day
  • Paddleboard: $10 hourly. $35 full day
  • Pedal Boat: $10 hourly. $35 full day
  • Row Boat: $10 hourly. $40 daily. $200 weekly*

Swimming

The park has a public pool that’s most active during the summer. The sheer Olympic-sized pool is inviting enough to get into the water. The park also has a children’s wading pool, a modern bathhouse, and a snack bar. You don’t need to worry about the safety of your family since lifeguards are posted and the pool is ADA-compliant.

The pool operates from 10 am to 5: 30 pm daily. However, in August it’s only open on Saturday and Sunday. The pool also allows pool parties at a fee.

Hiking

Hikers will meet a paradise at Fall Creek Falls State Park. The park has many trails ranging from easy to difficult. Pick whichever trail matches your mood for the day and go exploring. The most popular trailhead is at the Betty Dunn Nature Centre which is located near the North entrance of the park. There is trail information inside the Nature Center. Some trails originate and can be linked from the campground, inn, village area, group camp #2 entrance gates, the Piney Falls parking lot, and the Falls parking lot.

For anyone who wants to take their hiking to the next level, there are two long-distance overnight trails. You can dive deep into an adventure for some once-in-a-lifetime thrilling experiences. The day-use trails have been designed to cater to just every use. From exploring the park’s geological features and forest life, leisure walking, and fitness walking, to easy hiking.

Below are the trails in Falls Creek Falls State Park:

  • Upper Loop (Cane Creek Overnight Trail): It’s a 14 miles route of natural surface. It is considered moderate.
  • Lower Loop (Cane Creek Overnight Trail): This is 13.2 miles of natural surface classified as difficult.
  • Gorge Overlook Trail: This 1.2-mile of the natural surface is a moderate trail that will present you with incredible views of the gorge.
  • Woodland Trail: This 0.9 mile of the natural surface is a moderate trail that meanders through the woodland. Perfect for when you want to take a walk through some nature.
  • Turkey Pen Ridge: It’s 0.5 miles of natural surface that are classified as an easy trail. If you need a short walk, this trail is perfect for it.
  • Base of Fall Creek Falls Trail: It’s 0.4 miles of natural surface that takes you to the base of the falls. It’s classified as difficult. You can also link this trail with Paw Paw Trail which is 2.7 miles. This one is moderate and made of a natural surface.
  • Gilbert Gaul Trail: This is a moderate trail of 4.3 miles. The trail is a natural surface.
    Link Trail: A 4.6 mile of natural surface that’s classified as moderate.
  • Bike Trail: This trail is great for mountain biking. It is a paved surface of 3.4 miles that is classified as easy or ADA.
  • Wheeler Farm Loop: This 1.9 mile of the natural surface is classified as a difficult route.
  • Prater Place Trail: It’s a moderate trail of 2.9 miles made of natural surface.
  • Cable Trail: This 0.3 miles of the natural surface is classified as a difficult route for hiking.
  • Campground Trail: Its 0.2 miles route is classified as easy. It is a natural surface trail.

Biking

Biking at Falls Creek Falls State is a fun activity with a paved trail at your disposal. If you don’t want to bring your bike, you can rent one at the Canopy Challenge Course. They offer bike rentals on a first-come-first-served basis from their locations at the park office and pool. There are three biking trails in Falls Creek Falls State Park:

  • Upper Loop Trail: This is a moderate of 13.5 miles with a single track. It follows a less-used backpacker trail. Due to the nature of the trail that was made with backpackers in mind, the path is right and twisted interlaced with open and flowing sections. This trail runs over rolling hills so there will be some nice climbs here and there.
  • Chinquapin Ridge Mountain Bike Trail: This is a moderate trail of about six miles out and back. This trail can be found between Newton Ford Picnic Areas and Group Lodge 1 at the south end of the park. It is a double track that allows mountain bikers to visit the more remote areas of the park.
  • Piney Mountain Bike Trail: It’s a moderate 8 miles out and back trail. It begins at Group Camp 2 going downhill and crossing Piney Creek. The trail finally ends near the rim of Crane Creek gorge.

Fishing

The 345 acres of Fall Creek Lake is an ideal place for fishing. Here you can catch Largemouth Bass and it even holds the state record catches for Bluegill and Channel Catfish. The best time to fish is in the spring and fall and you can use either a bot or fish from the bank.

suspended bridge over the water at Fall Creek Falls State Park

Birding

Fall Creek Lake offers great views of loons, bald eagles, and transient ducks. Some great overlooks in the park also give you panoramic views of migratory infamous birds such as Buzzards Roost, buzzard hawks, black vultures, and some resident turkeys. At the bluff-tops, you can peer into the canopy and catch a glimpse of the vibrantly colored warblers, vireos, and many other neotropical migrant birds from mid-March to October.

There are also year-round residents such as the red-headed woodpeckers, barred owls, white-breasted nuthatches, and Cooper’s Hawk.

Golf

Golfers will really enjoy Falls Creek Falls State Park. If you want to try your hand at golf, there are lessons offered at the park as well. The park boasts of the work of the renowned golf course architect Joe Lee on the 18-hole championship golf course. This beautiful and challenging course is quite popular and has been listed as one of the Top 100 Places to Play by Golf Digest.

The course barely has any parallel holes giving you an ideal outdoor experience with random wildlife sightings. There is an on-site amenities driving range, pull carts, practice green, snack bar, on-site lodging, and club rental.

Interpretive Program

The park has an extensive program that has been curated for school groups. The park provides an opportunity for students to get first-hand experience and lessons in nature. The park’s extensive resources and facilities serve as an outdoor classroom for the students.

Educational Programs

Fall Creek Falls State Park offers a program for educators like most state parks in Tennessee. The program has been designed to be educational, accessible, and experiential for students. The students will get to learn directly with a Park Ranger.

You can pick a program from the available ones for your students or create one with a Park Ranger.

Educational programs provided by Falls Creek Falls State Park are:

  • Field trips to the park
  • Ranger classroom or school yard visits
  • Custom programs

The programs cover topics such as:

  • Tree Ecology
  • Native Wildlife
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Animal Adaptations & Keystone Species
  • Park Career Options

Park Location

Falls Creek Falls State Park
2009 Village Camp Road
Spencer, TN 38585
Phone: 423.881.5298

Website

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Falls Creek Falls State Park: