The 5 Best Tennessee Waterfall Hikes You Can Do with Kids

My husband and I have always loved hiking and being outdoors. I have such great memories of our adventures before having kids. But, experiencing the trails with our littles makes us crave the outdoors even more. We live in Middle Tennessee with our 3 kids Ryder, Finn, and Adell and have explored many of our beautiful state parks. Here are my Top 5 Tennessee Waterfall Hikes with Kids!


1. Foster Falls and Greeter Falls

These two amazing waterfalls are close by one another in South Cumberland State Park. It’s definitely worth visiting both in one day.

Foster Falls:


TRAIL: From the parking lot, it’s about .3 miles to the overlook with a gorgeous view of the falls. Then, you can continue on the trail down to the base of the falls, which is pretty rocky but easy and short.

WHY WE LOVE IT:

SWING BRIDGE - Our boys LOVE the swing bridge you cross at the base of the falls! 

CLIMBERS - Once you cross the bridge you can go right to the falls or left to continue on the trail. The trail is very rocky, but up ahead you are likely to catch a glimpse of some talented rock climbers doing their thing. Foster Falls is a very popular climbing spot. 


Greeter Falls


TRAIL: A 1.6 mile loop trail will take you to Greeter Falls, one of our favorite waterfalls in the state. It’s an easy trail, perfect for kids.

WHY WE LOVE IT:

SWIMMING HOLE - At the falls, the swimming hole is awesome with a stream flowing from the falls, fun to splash around in. 

INSTA-PERFECTION - Right in front of the falls, you’ll find a rock out in the water that is great for that epic Instagram photo ;) 

BROAD TREE FALLS - On the way back, take the short trail detour to Broad Tree Falls, you’ll be glad you did! Just watch for the sign.


2. Lost Creek Falls


TRAIL: Lost Creek Falls are only .2 mile from the parking lot! Our family visited this state natural area for the first time recently and fell in love. 

WHY WE LOVE IT:

NO CROWDS - We only came across a few other people so, it’s a little more low key than some other popular Tennessee waterfalls. 

DISNEY LOVED IT - This was a filming location for Disney’s 1994 The Jungle Book!

CAVE - Across the path there is a large entrance to Lost Creek Cave, one of the larger caves in Tennessee. There is a waterfall in the cave, but the trek to the falls may not be safe for children. If you are sans-kids, bring your headlamps ready to explore! To be official, you can get a free permit to explore the cave at the Fall Creek Falls Nature Center. *We also love nearby Fall Creek Falls State Park!


3. Cummins Falls


TRAIL: A 1.1 mile trail will take you to Cummins Falls. Be prepared to hike in the water! There is an overlook near the parking lot to see the falls. Then, you hike down the hill and back up the creek to the falls. 

WHY WE LOVE IT: 

BIG FALLS - The falls are absolutely gorgeous and a fun place to climb around and play!

GORGEOUS TRAIL - Our boys loved the portion of the trail through the water, makes for a fun adventure. 

*TIP - It can be crowded in the summer, especially on weekends. We made the trip in the fall and only saw one other family at the falls. It was a great day.


4. Machine Falls and Rutledge Falls

These two waterfalls are just down the road from one another with short trails.  Could definitely squeeze both in one day!

Machine Falls:


TRAIL: A 1.6 mile loop, but you could see the falls without doing the full loop distance. When you see the bridge, look to your right for the trail over to the waterfall. The trail before you get to the bridge is a steep downhill hike that could be difficult for tiny kiddos. 

WHY WE LOVE IT: 
SHALLOW WATER- This waterfall is perfect to play in with shallow water at the bottom and a few levels to climb around on.
TRAIL SYSTEM- If you want to get more mileage, there are a few connecting trails as part of the Short Springs State Natural Area. 


Rutledge Falls:


TRAIL:  Find the trail parking area by following your GPS to “Rutledge Falls Baptist Church”. You will see a small parking area on the side of the road across the street from the church. The path to the falls is extremely short with a steep section to climb down to the base of the falls. This trail is on private property but open to the public.

WHY WE LOVE IT:

WATERFALL JUMPING - If you’re brave, you can climb up the right side of the falls and jump into the pool below!

SWIMMING HOLE - There is a perfect swimming hole, especially in the summer when water levels aren’t high.

COLD - The spring water is so refreshing during our hot Tennessee summers. You can feel the temperature change as you get down to the falls. 


5. Stillhouse Falls


TRAIL: It’s 2/3 mile to the falls from the parking area, an easy trail.

WHY WE LOVE IT: 

HAMMOCK TREES - There are 3 trees right in front of the falls perfect for hanging two hammocks. This makes it the perfect picnic and chill spot. 


Written by Jenny Williams, Tennessee Ambassador for Girls Who Hike, a national women's hiking organization.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!