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52 votes

Burgess Falls State Park

4010 Burgess Falls Dr, Sparta, Tennessee 38583 USA

“Sheer bluffs, narrow ridges, rolling water”

Burgess Falls State Natural Area, located in Middle Tennessee, lies on the eastern edge of Tennessee's Highland Rim adjacent to the Cumberland Plateau and is noted for its natural beauty. Sheer bluffs, narrow ridges, rolling water and abundant mixed forest, characterize this area. The Falling Water River drops approximately 250 feet, providing numerous waterfalls, breathtaking scenery and overlooks. The park is home to over 300 species trees and plants and an abundance of wildlife. Park visitors can visit the large Native Butterfly Garden located adjacent to the upper parking lot. The history of Burgess Falls can be traced back over three centuries. Before European settlement, Indians of the Cherokee, Creek and Chickasaw tribes shared this region as a hunting ground. By the late 19th century, a gristmill and sawmill were in operation on the river here. For the growing logging and farming communities, the Falling Water River played a key role by providing energy and recreational opportunities. Under protection as a State Natural Area since 1973, visitors today may enjoy the same scenic splendor of Burgess Falls, easily seen from the River Trail. Boats are not allowed below the dam and fishing boats are allowed only in the shallow lake above the dam. Due to heavy silting and lack of a boat ramp this is not a desirable lake for boating. Trolling motors are the only type of motor allowed on boats. Fishing is year-round. Most common catches are large and small mouth bass, brim and carp. The most popular fishing sites are along the lake, below the dam and below the main falls. The waters of Center Hill Lake reach the base of Burgess Falls. There is no boat ramp. Anglers age 13 and older must have a valid TN fishing license. The 1.5-mile round-trip River Trail/Service Road Loop is a moderately strenuous hike taking visitors past four waterfalls on the Falling Water River. The waterfalls are 20' cascades, 30' upper falls, 80' middle falls, and 136' lower falls in height. Most people prefer to hike back to the parking lot along the service road. The 1-mile Ridge Top Trail is very scenic with views down the main canyon of the Falling Water River. Please note that the trail from the main overlook to the bottom of the main falls is very strenuous. All trails are foot trails. Bikes, horses, etc. are not permitted. Burgess Falls is a natural area in Putnam and White Counties and is located approximately thirteen miles southwest of Cookeville. It is managed by Tennessee State Parks. Burgess Falls lies on the rugged dissected eastern edge of the Eastern Highland Rim resulting in the occurrence of sheer bluffs, narrow ridges, waterfalls, and diverse forest communities. It was named for Tom Burgess, an American Revolutionary War veteran, who was deeded the land in 1793 by the U.S. Government as partial payment for his services. For many decades the Burgess family provided settlers with meal and cut lumber from their gristmill and lumber mill on Falling Water River above the falls.

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Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
July 16, 2014
Rated 5.0

Simply awesome! My wife picked this stop along our trip. I hate to admit it, but she outdid me once again! The river and falls were amazing. The hike to get down to the base is no joke. But, it was well worth the time it took to get down there, and it's something we'll remember for the rest of our lives.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 19 Reviews
  • 16 Helpful
July 01, 2016
Rated 5.0

Loved stopping here. You can either walk along a semi-rough trail that goes along the river, seeing Lower and Middle Falls or you can take a quicker, gravel/paved path through the forest to see the main Burgess Falls. The Falls themselves are beautiful and very tall. You can't tell from the pictures but they are huge. There are steps leading down to the bottom of the falls where you can swim. The is a playground by the parking lot which was great for my little one to burn off some energy before stopping back in the car. The bathrooms were clean but there was only 2/3 stalls and the line was long (as people were changing in/out of swimsuits).

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 9 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
October 27, 2016
Rated 5.0

The falls was awesome! There's three different water falls, and you walk a trail past all of them. The first one is small, second one is bigger, and the third is huge - and the most awesome part is that you can walk down to the biggest one, all the way out to the edge! Not for those who're afraid of heights...

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Butch & Alisha Sprake

  • 2 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
September 18, 2015

We loved this! It was my husband, our 8 year old son and I. There is a nice trail, a play area, restrooms, pick nick area. It is very pretty and a great please to get out of the car, walk around, and enjoy the scenery.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 22 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
August 28, 2015
Rated 5.0

Falls were well worth the stop! Great place to stretch out on a road trip! There was no swimming aloud and steel trails were closed due to damage from flood but trails were not bad and I'm 50 and overweight! Definitely worth the stop

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
September 03, 2014

This place is gorgeous so much beauty. I would Def recommend to stop here and enjoy the view.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Anna Hider

  • Blogger
  • 1,280 Reviews
  • 420 Helpful
August 31, 2014
Rated 4.0

WOW! There are lots of really impressive waterfalls along the trails here-- the hike is pretty easy, but there are a lot of stairs going down to the base of the falls!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 3 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
July 01, 2014
Rated 5.0

Beautiful falls, nice facilities. Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 3 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
June 23, 2014

amazingly beautiful waterfall. great place to swim & stretch your legs . fantastic organic produce stand (open march- October) run by the farmers

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 7 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
May 16, 2014

Divine! Dramatic overlooks and swimming at the base of the falls. Not to be missed!

1 person found this review helpful

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Burgess Falls State Park

4010 Burgess Falls Dr
Sparta, Tennessee
38583 USA

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