Fall Creek Falls
About Fall Creek Falls
Located in southeastern Tennessee, Fall Creek Falls State Resort Park has many beautiful sites to offer through out it's 19,000 acres. It is best known for it's name sake, the 256 foot Fall Creek Falls. There are many other falls in the area including Piney Falls and Cane Creek Falls. Although this is a resort park, don't let that fool you. The Lower Loop trail has plenty of wilderness to offer the avid backpacker. The Upper Loop is is not as seneic as the Lower Loop, but is worth the hike. You must obtain a permit at the park nature center for any overnight stays. The permit is free. Overnight parking is only available at the Park Service Center near the north entrance of the park.
Lower Loop–Cane Creek
The 13 mile loop trail begins at the north entrance of the park near the maintenance parking area and leads you through thick forests of Oaks, Pine and Mountain Laurels. The loop takes you from the east rim of the Cane Creek Gulf, down 800 feet to the bottom and then back up to the west rim of the gulf. The trail continues around the rim where it eventually connects at Piney Falls. Once you reach Piney falls the trail crosses back and forth over the parks main roads and takes you near some of the more accessible attractions like Falls Creek Falls, Cascade Falls and Cane Creek Falls. After passing by the Nature center, the trail leads you back to he park service center parking lot.
There are two designated campsites both with wells with hand pumps and an outhouse. We did notice a few unofficial campsites that people created, but recommend you camp in the designated areas. Backcountry campsite 1 is about 2.5 miles and is an easy hike. It has 4 separate sites with site 1 being the favorite. Backcountry campsite 2 is at about 5.0 miles (from service center) and at the top of the other side of the gulf. It has 4 separate sites, site 1 is in a large field with a fire ring. Site 2 is on other side of pit toilet and is in woods with lots of space. Sites 3 and 4 are smaller and not as level.
The description below starts at the nature center and ends at the service center parking lot. The park ranger was very helpful by shuttling our drivers to the nature center. Total distance includes side hikes to overlooks and other points of interest.
Start 9:15 am
00.00 Begin at Nature Center.
00.02 Cross Cane Creek suspension bridge,falls to your right. After crossing bridge the trail makes a steep climb to above the falls.
00.25 Trail levels out before reaching trail junction. Woodland trail (.75) and Overlook Trail (.50). Right leads along rim with views of the falls and Cane Creek gorge. You can combine the two trails to make a loop and return to Nature Center. Continue Right.
00.50 Cane Creek Falls overlook (.10)
00.83 Cane Creek overlook(.13). Gorge is obscured by trees from this location.
01.06 Rocky Point overlook(.15). Beautiful view of 3 gorges that requires some rock scrambling.
01.35 Trail junction with Woodland trail. We spent 1hr along this section. Continue right.
01.41 Cross bridge.
01.50 Cross bridge over Falls Creek.
01.55 Overlook, can see Rocky Point and part of Fall Creek Falls.
01.59 Trail junction. Lower Loop (Overnight Trail) and Fall Creek Falls Trail (.40). We followed FCF trail to the overlook. This overlook can be accessed by car. To the left of the overlook is trail that leads to the bottom of the falls. The trail took us about 10 minutes to descend and 15 minutes to climb. I did not measure the mileage of this trail. We returned to the trail junction and continued left on Lower Loop.
01.84 Cross over asphalt path
01.94 Cross picnic/parking area and then enter woods.
02.88 Millikins overlook trail (.45) We continued right to the overlook.
03.38 Millikins overlook. Cross road to large viewing deck. You can continue down below the deck and scramble some rocks to get another outstanding view of the gorge (12:30 pm Break for lunch).
03.89 Return to trail junction, continue right.
04.31 Cross road. Trail from Fall Creek Falls overlook to road is easy hiking with mostly oaks trees along the trail.
04.98 Trail merges with improved trail. Right leads to overlook of Piney Falls. Continue right.
05.08 View of Piney Falls, cross suspension bridge.
06.25 Pass through stands of Holly and rhododendron before crossing bridge.
07.35 Pass through stand of developing pine trees.
07.62 Trail junction with Piney Creek Bike Trail. Continue shared trail to right.
07.80 Arrive Backcountry site 2 (3:15 pm). Backcountry 2 has 4 campsites, site 1 is in large field with fire ring. Camp site 2 is on other side of pit toilet and is in woods with lots of space. Camp sites 3 and 4 are smaller and not as level.
07.83 Trail continues through campsite 1 (Day 2 Start 8:50 am).
08.15 Trail becomes rocky and begins steep descent. Sign indicate falls to your right (0.1). Fall is small and has nice large downed tree that leads up to it.
08.87 Trail continues to descend before reaching large rock field. White trail markers a bit harder to follow, but some stone steps help lead the way.
08.94 Leave rock field and continue to descend.
09.18 Cane Creek can be seen to your right as you make your way to the large suspension bridge that crosses this dry creek (10:00 am). Cross bridge and begin to ascend.
09.70 Trail becomes more difficult with some rock scrambling.
10.00 Carin of rocks. Continue steep ascent.
10.13 Look out to right. Trail levels out a bit.
10.82 Building comes into view. We speculate a mill of some sort.
11.22 Arrive Backcountry 1 (11:10 am). Backcountry 1 has 4 campsites, sites 3 and 4 are to the right of the trail and 1 and 2 are to the left (snack break).11.43 Cross bridge and begin to ascend.
12.56 Cross bridge.
12.75 Cross logging road.
12.95 Cross logging road again. Sigh points to park entrance.
13.12 Junction Paw paw trail and Lower Loop trail. Sign indicates Backcountry 1 is 2.0 miles, Fall Creek Falls overlook 1 mile (12:10 pm). Continue left.
13.25 Cross foot bridge. Trail junction. Sign indicates Fall Creek Falls overlook 1.5 miles, Nature center 3.0. Overnight Trail (Lower Loop) leads left and right. Right leads to trail head at service center. Continue left.
13.64 Cross road (Hwy 284).
13.72 Trail head at service center. (12:25 pm)
Upper Loop—Cane Creek
The 14 mile Upper Loop Trail follows along Cain Creek and stays on the top of the plateau for most of the way. While not as seneic as the Lower Loop, this trail is still a pleasent hike. This moderate trail passes through stands of rhododendrons and hardwoods, crossing footbridges over rocky creeks. As it loops back toward the trail head, it crosses park roads and picnic areas before returnig to the service center. Backcountry Campsite 3, about 7.6 miles from service center, has 4 campsites, site 4 and 1 are decent, 2 and 3 are marginal. Pit toilet is in bad shape. Filter water from nearby Cane Creek.
Start 8:39 am
00.00 Begin at Overnight Trail Head. Left leads to Lower Loop Trail (12 mile loop). Right leads to Upper Loop (13 Miles). White Blaze.
00.02 trail begins slight decent crossing several small foot bridges. Lot's of downed trees surround the trail here.
00.50 Walk through stand of Holly trees, trail is mostly level.
00.62 Trail descends to creek then crosses bridge before ascending again.
00.84 Trail begins to level out.
00.93 Trail junction. Sign is in poor condition. Left leads to clock wise loop direction, right leads to counter clock wise loop direction. We continue left.
01.30 Trail crosses logging road.
01.48 Trail continues with some up and down, but mostly level.
02.03 Trail pass around large root-ball of fallen tree.
02.22 Cross gravel road.
02.29 Cross logging road.
02.95 Trail descends through grove of rhododendrons before crossing dry creek and ascending again.
03.18 Cross dry creek, trail mostly level through this section. Lots of downed trees on either side of the trail.
03.67 Cross logging road, sign indicates overnight trail straight ahead.
03.91 Cross logging road before reaching small foot bridge. Trail follows creek that is to your left.
04.12 Cross foot bridge. Creek is now on your right.
04.56 Trail moves up away from creek, then descends.
04.46 Cross 3 bridges. Good place to filter water. (2hrs from Overnight Trail head)
04.76 Trail moves up and away from the creek that is to your right. Lot's of holly and rhododendrons
05.00 Cross rocky creek bed, Creek is to left.
05.32 Trail continues to move up and down through hemlock and rhododendron.
06.04 After emerging from the woods, sign indicates to follow logging road to left. This section of the trail is level and opens into a couple of small fields before returning into the woods. Creek is to your left.
06.40 Trail widens and becomes more rocky with hill sloping to your right. (3 hrs from Overnight Trail head)
06.63 Cross suspension bridge, leave the creek and begin to ascend.
06.95 Trail moves up and down along ridge with slope on either side. Creek to the right.
07.23 Trail levels out and crosses rocky creek bed.
07.54 Trail moves up and down then crosses dry creek before arriving at Backcountry 3 (30 minute stop for lunch).
07.60 Backcountry 3 has 4 campsites, site 4 and 1 are decent, 2 and 3 are marginal. Pit toilet is in bad shape. Filter water from nearby creek.
08.28 Trail continues up and down running parallel to the creek.
08.70 moves away from creek crossing small tributary.
08.81 Logging road, continue right and cross car bridge.
08.88 Trail leaves logging road. Follow white blaze to right.
09.16 Trail merges with logging road from the right.09.26 Trail emerges from woods, turn right on road and cross bridge on right side below. 09.40 After passing under bridge cross road. Newtons Ford picnic area is to your right, creek is to your left.
09.44 Leave road, cross small foot bridge and begin steep ascent.
09.79 Trail levels out.
10.00 pass giant football (5 hrs)
10.40 Trail moves through creek bottom with branches framing the trail.
12.43 Cross road.13.35 Return to trail junction, turn left toward Overnight Trail head.
13.52 Cross bridge.
14.10 Overnight Trail head.
Fall Creek Falls State Resort Park
Rt. 3, Pikeville, TN 37367-9316
Park Headquarters (423) 881-3297
From Nashville take I-40 to Cookeville. Turn right onto Hwy 111 South (exit 288).follow 111 for about 45 miles to the south entrance at Hwy. 284.
From Knoxville take I-40 west to Crossville to Peavine (exit 322). Take a left off the exit, turn right at the light and follow Hwy. 101 to Hwy. 30 Turn right on Hwy. 30 to the north entrance of the park. Just inside the park Hwy. 30 connects with Hwy. 284.
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