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A Day Trip to Fall Creek Falls

If you’ve been around long enough, or if you’ve even taken a 10 second look at our instagram page, you already know one of our favorite ways to spend a beautiful Saturday- hiking to waterfalls followed by a family-friendly brewery.  We are always up for a day trip around Middle Tennessee.  Recently, we made a trek from Nashville to Fall Creek Falls State Park and Lost Creek Falls for a fun family day outdoors.  

While you can spend several at Fall Creek Falls State Park, either camping or staying at the onsite inn, we opted to make a day trip from Nashville.  So here is how the day went:  

We left right after breakfast and made a quick stop at the equally beautiful, and much less trafficked, Lost Creek Falls. Then we drove to Fall Creek Falls State Park to spend the rest of the day. Afterwards, we made our way to Cookeville, Tennessee, for a great dinner at Father Tom’s Pub.  

play time at Cane Creek
play time!

We wanted to visit Red Silo Brewery.  Unfortunately, it was packed, as it is clearly a popular place.  We definitely want to go back at some point.  It looks like they are in the process of expanding, so we hope they have more seating on our next visit. While they don’t serve food, they often have food trucks parked outside and welcome outside food.  

Regardless, we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at Uncle Tom’s Pub and wouldn’t hesitate to go back.  Just an FYI, Uncle Tom’s Pub does not have a kid’s menu, but there are several things on the menu that are kid friendly.

Looking for more awesome Tennessee getaways? Check out these posts

Lost Creek Falls

Lost Creek Natural Area, located in White County, is such a great waterfall destination, especially with little ones.  The drive alone, is worth the trip, especially during the fall, when the morning fog and brightly hued leaves create a painting-like backdrop.  There was quite a bit of wildlife activity; we even saw deer playing in a meadow as we drove toward the falls.    

Lost Creek Falls area only has about one mile of hiking trails.  While hiking isn’t the main draw, the two attractions here are the falls and the cave, both of which were featured in the 1994 version of “The Jungle Book”.  
After taking the short walk to the bottom, the falls are to your left and the cave to your right.  

The Lost Creek Falls create a small pool at the bottom, after plummeting more than forty feet. There are large rocks and boulders everywhere, making it perfect for little climbers.  Be careful, though, that cool air and moisture creates a perfect environment for slippery rocks.  

Lost Creek Falls

You’ll be astounded at how quickly the temperature drops in the short distance you’ve gone, so be sure to carry an extra layer with you.  While autumn is a brilliant time to visit the falls, a trip during the summer would be so fun!  We would have enjoyed splashing around in the frigid water on a hot July day.  

Directly across from the Lost Creek Falls, you see the entrance to the Lost Creek Cave.  This is one of the larger caves in Tennessee, with five different entrances.  

You can explore and climb near the entrance, but a permit is required for recreational access to the rest of the cave.  If interested, this can be obtained free of charge at Fall Creek Falls visitor center.  However, the cave is closed from September through April for bat hibernation period.  So be sure to plan your visit accordingly.   For more information on Lost Creek Falls, make sure to visit the website.

cave entrance at Lost Creek Natural Area
figuring out the head lamp

Getting to Lost Creek Falls

Once you reach the Lost Creek Natural Area, you will pass a sign for Virgin Falls.  It is just a short distance further, so keep an eye out for a sign for Lost Creek Falls.  At this point, you will see a small gravel road to the left, which leads you to the parking area.   Make sure to check out the map at the bottom of the post.

The falls are easily accessible, requiring only about a 0.2 mile walk from the parking lot.  Take the trail, which is well maintained with steps and handrails in some spots, down the hill to the base of the sink.

Lost Creek Natural Area
checking out the maps and rules | Lost Creek Natural Area

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls is possibly one of the best and most well known state parks in Tennessee.  With over 26,000 acres of land, there are multiple waterfalls, miles and miles of hiking trails, and bike trails to boot.  Other activities include swimming, horseback riding, and fishing.  

There is enough to do in the park that you could spend a few days if you wanted.  The park is easy to navigate, with all the waterfalls and trails clearly marked.  It only takes a few minutes to get from one point to another.  

Fall Creek Falls Waterfalls

Clearly, the main attractions here at Fall Creek Falls State Park are the waterfalls.  The most popular, Fall Creek Falls, can be viewed from a lookout just near the parking area.  But, for a better view, make sure to take the hike to the bottom. Allow for a good amount of time here; as the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, it gets a large amount of visitors on the trail.  

Some visitors, myself included, are not aware of the several other waterfalls found within the Falls Creek Falls State Park.  Other notable waterfalls here include Piney Falls, Cane Creek Falls, and Cane Creek Cascades.

Fall Creek Falls from below
Fall Creek Falls

Fall Creek Falls Hiking

Fall Creek Falls State Park boasts over 34 miles of hiking trails.  While there are two well known trails for overnight hikers, multiple options remain for those looking for a short day hike.  

The most popular hike in the park is the trail to the base of Fall Creek Falls. The short 0.4 mile (one way) trek isn’t overly complicated. However, there are several spots where care is required to avoid slipping and falling. We did see someone being carried out because she had slipped and turned her ankle.  Seriously, be careful!

hiking to the base of Fall Creek Falls
the kids made it! | Fall Creek Falls

While the trail is short, remember that it does descend 256 feet to the base of the falls.  This also means 256 feet back up.   Both of our kids did a majority of this hike, with our five year old daughter completing the entire thing on her own.  The entire hike took us right at an hour, always going at their pace.  

The trail to Cane Creek Falls is also a crowd favorite.  This hike is extremely easy, at only about 0.4 mile.  While you can take the trail all the way up to the overlook, the big draw here is the suspension bridge that stretches over Cane Creek.  As you make your way across the swinging bridge, you see the water rushing right below you. It isn’t extremely high, but it was enough to make me a little uneasy.  

hiking to the base of Fall Creek Falls
making our way down

Once back at the nature center where you started, you can take the stairs down to the creek bed.  From here, you will be standing at the base of the Cane Creek Cascades.  

You can follow the creek to the right as it winds around toward the Cane Creek Falls.  Depending on the water level, this may or may not be an option.  For our visit, the water was fairly low, so we were able to walk around and throw rocks.

There are multiple other Fall Creek Falls hiking options.  I would suggest stopping in at the visitors center to get trail maps and more information. This will aid in choosing the trail that is best for your fitness level and expectations. In such a beautifully scenic  area, you really can’t go wrong.  

crossing the cane Creek Suspension bridge at Fall Creek Falls State Park
crossing the swinging bridge!

Fall Creek Falls Amenities

Fall Creek Falls State Park is definitely somewhere you can spend an entire day, or even several days if you choose. There are several campgrounds, for both tents and RVs. There is also an onsite inn you can stay at.

snack bar at Fall Creek Falls State Park
the snack bar | Fall Creek Falls State Park
playground at Fall Creek Falls State Park
the kids loved this playground!

Since we just made a day trip, we didn’t check these options out. However, there are a few other great perks for young families. There is an awesome playground area that our kids did not want to leave.

There is also a snack bar serving burgers and other items for a quick lunch. If you want to picnic, but forget something, you can likely find a substitute at the small store located near the hub of the park. For more info, be sure to check out the park’s website here.

Have you been to Fall Creek Falls State Park? What did you think? Let us know!

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