If you’ve never been to the waterfalls near Nashville, you are in for a treat. This post will help you explore Fall Creek Falls State Park and Rock Island State Park. All are less than 2 hours drive from Nashville.
Rock Island State Park
Twin Falls in Rock Island State Park
On a tour of the waterfalls near Nashville, I would make the first stop here. The incredible Twin Falls in Rock Island State Park are visible from the parking area, so it’s perfect for those who don’t want a long waterfall hike. If you do want to hike, you can take the Downstream Trail which is a fairly easy, 1.6 mile loop through the lush forest with lovely waterfall views.
To stay safe, enjoy these magnificent falls from the shore. Swimming is not allowed at Twin Falls due to hidden and deadly currents.
When they dammed the Caney Fork River in 1925, this “waterfall” was created. It’s not actually a waterfall at all. Twin Falls pours out to the walls of the gorge instead of over it. It’s really remarkable to sit on a rock and take in the incredible roar of these falls. Magical.
Great Falls Dam in Rock Island State Park
Next stop is a short (10-15 minute) drive to the Great Falls Dam. If you want lunch on the way, stop into the Rock Island Market where you can get country cookin, burgers, sandwiches, and REALLY good pie.
Once you park at the Great Falls Dam, you will be perched high above a massive limestone gorge with a view of several waterfalls. Walk the steep steps into the gorge, and you’ll have a ton of fun rockhopping, swimming, fishing, and waterfall bathing. Water shoes are a big help in the gorge. Bring towels, floaties, snacks or a picnic and find a spot to relax and enjoy this incredible place.
Stay safe while enjoying the Great Falls Dam
No lifeguards on duty. Always use caution in the gorge. Water may rise rapidly. Monitor your surroundings. Leave the gorge immediately if water begins to rise or you hear warning sirens. Watch for slick rocks and swift currents. Do not jump into water of unknown depths. Swimming or wading is not allowed in all areas from TVA’s powerhouse downstream all the way down to the main beach boat ramp including by the powerhouse, Twin Falls and Blue Hole due to hidden and deadly currents.
Map of Rock Island State Park
Fall Creek Falls State Park
The Cane Creek Cascades
My favorite waterfall for swimming is located 35-45 minutes away from Rock Island in Fall Creek Falls State Park. Set your GPS for the Cane Creek Falls and you will end up in a parking lot at the Betty Dunn Nature Center. Take the path to the wooden stairs, you’ll find the best waterfall swimming around with a natural slide, cool, clean water, and big rocks for relaxing in the sun or shade.
Cane Creek Rope Bridge
Just up the trail a bit, don’t miss the rope bridge. It goes over Cane Creek and totally freaked me out, but I still did it.
The Most Popular Waterfall Near Nashville
While you’re in Fall Creek Falls State Park, you have to go see the big one, Fall Creek Falls. It’s the most famous of the waterfalls near Nashville, and at 256 feet, it’s the highest waterfall in the Eastern United States. After you park, you will view it from above and if you want to hike down to the base, you can take the .5 mile trail of steep steps. Be ready to climb over some boulders but considering how steep it is, it’s relatively moderate hike because it has wood or rock stairs and handrails much of the way down. Once you get to the base, you can swim in the shallow water, rock hop and hike.
And after you are finished with all this waterfall fun, you can drive back to Nashville if you’re just doing a day trip. Our group rented an Air B&B in Rock Island and stayed for several nights. During that time, we took a side trip to Cumberland Caverns as well. The area has so many great hikes, numerous waterfalls, and excellent campgrounds to explore. I hope this post has piqued your interest in taking a waterfall adventure just 2 hours away from Nashville.
I hope you’ll use this guide to take a trip to the Waterfalls Near Nashville!
As most of you know, I love Nashville and enjoy writing this blog to share all the fun things to do in and around town. If you enjoyed this guide about the Best Waterfalls Near Nashville, please share it with a friend.
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