The Falling Water River is home to 2 nice waterfalls in a 1 mile stretch that flows through the Burgess Falls Natural Area. A 3rd falls - Little Falls - lies along this section of the river also. It's about a 15' drop over a series of ledges that stretch along the width of the river. To get here, take I-40 and get off at exit 286 (Hwy 135) just west of Cookeville. Head south on Hwy 135 for about 7 miles to the signed entrance. From Sparta, head north on Hwy 111 for a few miles and look for the exit for Burgess Falls. I'm pretty sure the sign said Hwy 136. Follow it and the signs to Hwy 135 and the park entrance.
This area is day use only - no camping. The main trail is the one along the river and is very obvious. It's no more than moderate in difficulty, so it's one the whole family can enjoy. Little Falls is a very short way down the trail. In less than 0.5 miles, there's an overlook for Middle Falls. This falls is about 30' high and extends across the width of the river, maybe 75'. There's no good way down to the river from here for a better view.
A little more than 1/4 mile farther down the trail is the overlook for the gorgeous Burgess Falls. The river spills 130' over this falls and I assure you that you won't see anything else quite like it. The only photos I had seen were taken from this overlook, and here's another. The rock wall extends down river and this would have been a great place for a panoramic camera.
But, Bobbie and I were pleasantly surprised to find an unexpected marked trail to the base. In fact, we immediately headed back to the vehicle, grabbed our lunch, came back and headed down the trail. This trail is a little steeper, but very not difficult for the average person. It comes out at the top of the falls and you can get right up to the edge for a peek over. Try not to fall off! From here, there's a set of caged-in stairs that lead towards the base. There are some good views of the side of the falls and once at the bottom of the steps, some good views through the trees.
We thought the trail would lead to the river, but the official trail ends above it at a landing with a nice view. There is an unofficial trail down to the river that's a little steeper and rockier, so we headed down and staked out a place right in front of the falls. The view was awesome! There was quite a bit of spray coming off the falls that felt good, but it made picture taking almost impossible. I managed to hide behind a boulder and pop out for a quickie before the spray covered the lens. It's the 1st shot on this page. I showed Bobbie and she immediately saw a face in the rock and named him Burgess.
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