Chasing Waterfalls around Northeast Tenn: Brace Yourself, it’s WATERFALL SEASON


With cabin fever settling in, now is the time to plan out your future adventures in and around Northeast Tennessee. Grab a pen and notebook to jot down these 10 heavenly waterfalls that we like to brag about from our backyard.

Laurel Falls
Nearest Town: Hampton, TN

Laurel Falls has grown to be a favorite for many waterfall-chasers, both near and far. The hike from the upper lot is rather short, but there is a challenging staircase that you will face just before reaching the falls. Bask in the beauty of the laurel leaves that surround the Pond Mountain Wilderness, and don’t miss out on the other waterfalls that dwell in this same holler.

Elk River Falls
Nearest Town: Elk Park, NC

Crossing just over the border between Tennessee and North Carolina lies this hidden gem that stood a local’s secret for decades. Elk River Falls is a short & steep 0.3 mile out & back hike, and leashed dogs are welcome. Plan for an early morning outing to avoid the crowds, and enjoy the winding backroad views leading up to this primitive wonder nestled within the Pisgah National Forest.

Dennis Cove Falls
Nearest Town: Hampton, TN

Dennis Cove Falls is a two-for-one deal. The trail twists and turns around the creek all the way up to two wonderful waterfall vistas. For an added bonus, hike the trail further to views from the top of the second falls and access to the mystic meadows of Frog Level.

*Be warned that Dennis Cove has multiple creek crossings, and you will get wet.

Coon Den Falls
Nearest Town:  Hampton, TN

This often overlooked trail is only a few steps away from the Dennis Cove Falls trailhead. Hidden off the main road, you will find the trailhead as it winds upward with nearly 1,000 feet of elevation gain. On days when Laurel Falls is busy, Coon Den Falls makes for a nice escape away from the bustle.

Rock Creek Falls
Nearest Town:  Erwin, TN

Over the forest and through the woods lies a hidden gem known to explorers as Rock Creek Falls. The terrain along this trail can be steep and rocky in parts, along with a few creek crossings.

Blue Hole Falls
Nearest Town:  Elizabethton, TN

The 0.5 mile hike to and from this long-time local spot is well worth the drive. It can get a little crowded, so plan accordingly. Feel free to explore the multidirectional trails that follow the creek into a wooded wonderland.

Devil’s Bathtub
Nearest Town:  Fort Blackmore, VA

The adventure for this beauty begins long before you ever reach the trail. Load up on breakfast and put your adventure face on, because you may need to bust out the compass in case GPS fails. Yep, it’s that kind of ride. You will cross the creek several times with plenty of opportunities to swim. The hiking trail continues beyond the Devil’s Bathtub, however, it becomes much less maintained.

Sill Branch Falls
Nearest Town:  Erwin, TN

Take a hike or trail run to views of this beauty within the Cherokee National Forest. Sill Branch Falls is around 2 miles round-trip with a small upward climb leading to the falls. Surrounded by a lush forest, black bears and other woodland critters are no strangers around these parts.

Red Fork Falls
Nearest Town:  Unicoi, TN

Prepare to be bewildered when visiting this gorgeous falls located in the Unaka Mountain Recreation Area. Starting out with two creek crossings, this short hike is not for the faint of heart. You will climb down steep terrain parallel to the falls crossing over wet roots and rock native to our Appalachian rainforest. The Mountain Laurel at Red Fork Falls will make you feel like you are living in a fairytale.

Margarette Falls
Nearest Town:  Greeneville, TN

Following the creek up to this lovely falls makes for a great morning hike. Margarette Falls is one of those best kept secrets to the locals of Greeneville. It is hidden well within the depths of the Cherokee National Forest and really comes alive after a good rainstorm.

Before You Go

Stay hydrated when hiking in our region, and please practice Leave No Trace ethics. For questions, concerns and more info on COVID-19 practices & outdoor recreation, contact the Cherokee National Forest office or the Pisgah National Forest office.

Written by Alicia M. Bynum
Travel Writer | Photographer

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