One of the things I enjoyed most about visiting Chattanooga was all the beautiful surrounding nature you get to see. Here are the most beautiful waterfalls near Chattanooga.
Chattanooga is located in one of the most beautiful spots of Tennessee, surrounded by breathtaking greenery. The waterfalls are spectacular but you will also love the waterfall hikes near Chattanooga making this a perfect weekend away!
Waterfalls Near Chattanooga Map
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Come With Me And Explore The Best Waterfalls Near Chattanooga
The following twelve locations are fantastic and offer plenty of photo opportunities. Some will have plunge pools, and others end on a rocky bottom with slippery boulders.
Out of the twelve waterfalls, eleven of them are accessible for you to hike along and see some fantastic sites. You can also go camping, picnicking, and swimming.
One of the best is underground, very tall, and part of a cavern that you can tour.
Height: 50 feet
Greeter Falls is top of my list for Falls near Chattanooga. Greeter Falls is part of South Cumberland State Park. The trailhead is reached by going to Savage Gulf. Greeter Falls has a loop trail and is number one on the list of incredible waterfalls to hike to because you can see three waterfalls along the path. Upper Greeter, Law Greeter, and Boardtree Falls are all along the trail.
Lower Greeter Falls is considered the hike’s highlight because you will descend into a gorge along a spiral staircase along a wooden ramp and make your way to the plunge pool at the bottom of the massive falls. Of course, you will want to take a swim when you reach the bottom, and Lower Greeter Falls is perfect for cooling off.
Before or after your swim break, you will want to take the short side trips that lead to Upper Greeter Falls, plus the short loop to Boardtree Falls. For those who know Cumberland Plateau hiking, you will understand the beauty of the rocky terrain awaiting your visit.
While you are in the area, consider visiting Ranger Creek and Big Creek Gulf Trails. You don’t want to miss hiking trails near Chattanooga with waterfalls or those like Ranger Creek. Both are worth the more challenging trails. Ranger Creek Falls is unique because the creek disappears below ground at the base of the falls.
Height: 110 Feet
Lula Falls, one of the best waterfalls near Chattanooga, is part of the Lula Lake Land Trust Property in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Lula falls have upper and lower falls, but the lower falls gain all the attention. The water flows into Lula Lake. Visitors to this area will enjoy the thunderous sound of water and the spray as it hits the pool at the bottom.
You can visit Lula Falls year-round. A trail was constructed to access the upper falls with a stone staircase to help you reach the base. Unfortunately, there is not a plunge pool like some of the other falls in Chattanooga; however, it is worth visiting to see the water crashing down on large boulders and flat bedrock.
Falling Water Falls
Height: 110 Feet
Falling Water Falls is in the State Natural Area of the same name. The area is very small, with a tiny parking area and only a single trailhead. The trail is just as short but well worth the trip to get to the top of this high waterfall.
The view will entrance you, despite the low level of water, which makes it possible for you to cross the creek and look at the waterfall from all sides. However, going over the slippery rocks is not recommended since the plunge is 110 feet onto a jagged rocky bottom rather than a plunge pool.
Falling water goes over sandstone shelf-style rock like much of the Cumberland Plateau. You can also access the waterfall from a trail below if you would instead get waterfall pictures. However, there is no trailhead or maintained trail.
Nevertheless, the spray from the water plunging over the cliffs does make it worthwhile to attempt to get to the bottom. Falling Water Creek is not very large, and you’ll notice the water level varies, sometimes disappearing underground.
Height: 80 feet
DeSoto State Park is outside of Chattanooga in the Mentone/Fort Payne area. However, the drive is worth it; especially, if you decide to pair the trip with a visit to Little River Canyon to see Little River Falls or spend more than a day exploring the state park.
You should know DeSoto Falls is part of a park in Alabama rather than in Tennessee, but it still makes the list of waterfalls near Chattanooga because it is close enough to drive to in less than two hours.
It is on the list because you can quickly drive to it from Chattanooga and its accessibility. Unlike some of the falls on the list, DeSoto has a short paved path from the parking lot, making it possible to view the falls from an overlook.
Water runs over a concrete dam, cascading down a broad expanse to plummet eighty feet into a small lake. If we include the cascading part of the waterfall, the height changes to 104 feet, but the longest part of the plunge is only eighty.
During the hot parts of summer, you will often see cavers hanging off the 100-foot pitch and rappelling into the lake. If you want to try it, you will need a special permit.
Since the trail is inside the park, you have several smaller waterfalls to visit along the entire twenty-five miles of trails. Eleven miles of trails are open to mountain bikers.
Fall Creek Falls
Height: 256 feet
Fall Creek Falls makes a list as the highest waterfall near Chattanooga. Fall Creek Falls is in a state resort park, which means there is a maintained trail to help you get to the area.
The best time to visit is during the spring months with the spring runoff. Most water will plunge over the high cliff and down into a rather large plunge pool.
One of the features of Fall Creek Chattanooga TN waterfalls is that it is considered the highest free-falling waterfall in the Eastern part of the US.
It is also adjacent to Coon Creek Falls, which is only six inches shorter and mildly impressive compared to Fall Creek. You might consider touring Piney Creek, Cane Creek, and Rockhouse Falls when you visit the park.
Height: 80 feet
Laurel Falls is outside of Chattanooga in Dayton, Tennessee. The Cumberland Trail is rather long, and Laurel-Snow State Natural Area is along with it. It is considered one of the picturesque areas of the trail and worth a visit to the southern section of Cumberland Plateau. Laurel Falls certainly towers over the land with a 900 feet elevation change. The trail is 2.4 miles and is considered a spur of the Cumberland main trail.
To start, you will need to get on the Richland Creek Trail, climb up the hill, and cross to Laurel Creek. There is a fifty-foot steel bridge that crosses Laurel Creek. Unfortunately, the bridge had to undergo repairs due to a tree falling on it. As a result, when the water is high, it can be unsafe.
Once across the bridge, the trail becomes rugged with large boulders and dozens of more minor cascading falls. As you keep going, you will encounter a pool, where you might want to take a break before climbing up to the highest part and looking at the waterfall cascading down.
Height: 110 feet
Ozone Falls is not as well known as other Chattanooga hiking destinations, yet it has an impressive 110-foot drop. Ozone Falls is inside Ozone Falls State Natural Area. There are two ways to access the falls. First, you can start at the top or bottom and cross over the Cumberland Trail.
From the base of the falls, you can get the most picturesque view of the water rushing over the cliffs into a deep pool. Second, from the top, you have views of the surrounding landscape.
To begin, find Crab Orchard, and you will see the trailhead.
You can swim in this natural pool. It has a gritty rock bottom, and the sound of the falls makes it a pleasant afternoon. The swimming hole tends to be the most popular.
You should not get Ozone mixed up with Fall Creek Falls, although Ozone can also be mentioned in Fall Creek.
You can reach it by taking I-40.
Height: 90 feet
Hemlock Falls is in Cloudland Canyon State Park to the west of Chattanooga. It is part of the Lookout Mountain section of the Cumberland Plateau. Hemlock Falls is not the only waterfall hike near Chattanooga you can visit while hiking the trail. You also have Cherokee Falls. As part of the state park, you can also camp while you walk.
You will begin your journey on the Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail, leading you to Hemlock and Cherokee Falls.
Cherokee Falls is sixty feet and the first waterfall on the path. It is famous for the plunge pool. While Hemlock Falls is more well known for the observation platform.
Hemlock Falls is ninety feet with cascades that go over arced rock. While there is a pool below, it is not the best for swimming. Instead, the observation deck is a better place to spend your time enjoying a picnic meal and resting with the gorgeous views around you.
You will take a trailhead that leads you along Daniel Creek. The challenging part about Hemlock and Cherokee is the short trail from the parking lot to the top of the gorge, which has six hundred stairs. However, it is definitely worth the hike along the creek.
You can also take Sitton’s Gulch Trail to go over the bridge that helps you get to the other side of Daniel’s Greek. You will find the trail brings you down the canyon and to the road at Lula Lake. You can also take the Cloudland Canyon Connector Trail.
As a state park, you will need $5 to enter. However, it is a minimal fee for the beautiful views, amazing photos you’ll gain, and the fun of hiking.
Height: 60 feet
Foster Falls is not as immense as some of the other Chattanooga waterfalls coming in at only sixty feet. However, the beauty around you makes up for it. Foster Falls Recreation Area as part of South Cumberland State Park ensures you have a great time in south Tennessee. Foster Falls is part of the Cumberland Plateau visage with gritty sandstone as a base.
The trail will bring you to the top of the falls, and it is a short walk. However, you will want to make your way to the bottom of the waterfall for the best pictures. You get the height, the water, and the full-color range of flowers below the falls like the hemlock, azaleas, and mountain laurels.
Since it is a state park, campground sites with bathhouses, free parking, a picnic area, and other amenities.
Foster Falls is known for its 200 sport climbing routes and Fiery Gizzard Trail. However, most will not argue that Foster Falls is one of the best waterfalls to hike to because of its views, height, and overall beauty.
You’ll enter via Foster Falls Small Wild Area, taking the Fiery Gizzard Trail to the top of the cliffs before wanting to take a dip in the pool below.
There is no fee to get into the park.
Height: 145 feet
Within Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls is considered one of the most impressive waterfalls near Chattanooga. It is ranked as the highest and deepest underground fall.
Ruby Falls was discovered in 1928 by Leo Lamber, who named the falls after his wife. The 145-foot falls are explorable underground via guided programs. You will go on a cave excursion, learning about the different rock formations, and come upon the scenic visage of the falls with water raining down from high above into a small pool below.
During your tour, don’t forget to stop and admire the view of Cumberland Plateau from Lookout Mountain Tower. There is also a High Point Zip Adventure zipline you can test yourself on.
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Glenn Falls is probably the shortest waterfall around Chattanooga; especially, in the Lookout Mountain area. Glenn Fallshalf-mile hike will bring you to the upper pool, where you can enjoy the cliffs and boulders. It is more exciting to see the falls after a good spring rainfall because the water will rush along the river and offer more to see.
Start out from Sanders Road because, after your hike, you can enjoy a picnic area and facilities.
Height: 80 feet
Part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Rainbow Falls is nearest to downtown Chattanooga. It is also considered the oldest waterfalls near Chattanooga and in the park.
Hiking to these falls 2.7 miles and some challenging terrain.
It was named because of the rainbows seen in the afternoon sun. The rainbows form from the sun reflecting on the water’s mist.
The location of Rainbow Falls also makes it ideal to see in winter when ice forms around the water changing the beauty of the area.
Rainbow Falls has another distinction—it is the tallest single-drop waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. It may not be the tallest in terms of height for overall fall, but there is no interruption to the running water like cascades.
There is one caveat to Rainbow Falls—signs along Cumberland Trail say you cannot go there. It is trespassing to access the falls, and it is dangerous because there is no formal path. The reason the trail is challenging is that it is really not a trail at all.
So, why mention this on the list of twelve?
One is because it is a great height, two it’s close to Chattanooga, and three to make sure you understand it is off-limits. Other places might not be as keen to mention this point. You should know there was one rescue a few years ago and a fatality because people didn’t listen to the trespassing signs and understand just how dangerous going here can be.
Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a gorgeous area to explore the outdoors due to the Smoky Mountains and Cumberland region, plus the waterfalls near Chattanooga. It’s important to remember that you should use caution when you make your choice so that you understand the risks.
Some trails are more accessible with well-maintained pathways, while others are more challenging but worth the trip. You also have some waterfalls with swimming areas. However, you do need to be careful since there are no lifeguards on duty.
Always adhere to the rules of any park or signs posted, such as having a permit to climb the waterfalls near Chattanooga TN. You do not want to conduct any cliff diving even if the swimming holes seem deep enough.
So, plan your trip carefully and get ready to take in all the natural beauty that these waterfalls have to offer.
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