Machine Falls, Tennessee

When I stopped at Short Springs Natural Area, I knew there were a number of waterfalls to be seen. Upper Busby Falls and Lower Busby Falls are more difficult to view, though, so they don’t end up being the main attraction. I started passing by those two falls, and I was maybe a bit disappointed that they weren’t extremely interesting.

As I continued along the loop that leads to Machine Falls, I didn’t realize that I was going to come to a waterfall that was much more interesting. Machine Falls is everything that the other two are not. You can view Machine Falls really well. You can get up-close and personal with the falls instead of standing at a distance. Machine Falls was a real treat after the other two falls.

Directions:

  1. Short Springs Natural Area is between Tullahoma and Manchester, with it being a bit closer to Tullahoma. From Tullahoma, figure out how to get to Country Club Drive, which heads northeast from the city.
  2. Country Club Drive turns into Short Springs Road just outside Tullahoma.
  3. Drive a few miles to the intersectin of Short Springs Road and Powell Road.
  4. Turn left onto Powell Road (if headed northeast), and then immediately pull into the parking area on your left. This is the parking area and trail head to the falls. There is a large water tower to the right if you’re in the correct spot.
  5. You can decide to hike just to Machine Falls or do a loop to the Busby Falls. There is another connected trail that leads to Adams Falls, but I didn’t do that, I’m guessing because of time limitations.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 60′
Length of Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip (to do the loop of three falls)

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Machine Falls in January 2016

Where in the World is Machine Falls?

Cummins Falls, Tennessee

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Cummins Falls in November 2017

When I visited Tennessee about eight years ago, Cummins Falls was off limits. If I remember correctly, a young man had died after slipping off the cliffs. I couldn’t even find where one might park and there was orange fencing blocking off the area. That has definitely changed. Now there’s a state park designated for the falls, and with that comes some important safety features. It’s definitely worth a stop at Cummins Falls now that one can explore a bit more.

The hike to the viewpoint for the falls is a very easy hike. At about 1/4 mile one way, it’s relatively flat and even until you get to the viewpoint. It’s understandable why it’s so dangerous…at the viewpoint, there’s a good 50′ or so drop to the river below, possibly a bit more. They have durable fencing to help deter any foolishness. With that being said, the viewpoint is at an odd angle, and it does make it difficult to get a good shot of the whole falls. I showed up on a sunny day, which I can’t prevent, but of course a cloudier day would have been better for photography.

I did explore the second option that would hopefully get me closer to the falls. There is a trail that initially leads away from the falls but then heads downhill toward the river. You can then head back upstream. I was able to go for a ways without any issue until the bank on the left side of the river disappeared. There is a way to continue along on the right side of the river, but it requires crossing the river. And while it’s not a huge river, it was still enough to deter me from getting wet. I tried to see an obvious way that wouldn’t get me wet, but there wasn’t one. If you don’t mind getting wet or have the right gear, it would be easy to get to the base of the falls.

Directions:

  1. The falls are between Tennesee routes TN-56 and TN-135, so there are a few different ways to arrive at the falls. If headed north on TN-56 from I-40, you would drive just over 7.5 miles to TN-290.
  2. Turn right onto TN-290 (Old Gainesboro Highway) heading east and drive 1 mile.
  3. Turn left onto Cummins Mills Road and drive for 3 miles.
  4. Turn left onto Blackburn Fork Road to the entrance to Cummins Falls State Park.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles roundtrip

Where in the World is Cummins Falls?

Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls, Tennessee

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Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls in February 2016

As I enter in to Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the Townsend entrance, my plan is to go see Meigs Falls. It seems like it should be an easy-to-view waterfall in the park, and I can enjoy the beauty that is the Smoky Mountains while I’m there.

Meigs Falls was easy to view, though it’s not a waterfall you can get close to. As I was driving in, though, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed another waterfall. On the way out of the park, I decided to see if I could pull over and get a better glimpse of the falls. Luckily, there was adequate gravel parking off of the road, and I was able to get some shots of Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls. At the time, I don’t think I knew the name of the falls. It wasn’t until I got home and looked at Google Maps that I discovered it was Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls. If I had looked at Google Maps, I would have also noticed Cane Creek Falls, Mannis Branch Falls, Spruce Flats Falls, and Meadow Branch Cascades. (This site gives a pretty good overview of some of the falls in the vicinity.)

Directions:

  1. I took US-321 from Knoxville into the park. Once you’re on the Lamar Alexander Parkway, it’s pretty difficult to miss the entrance. There are signs everywhere!
  2. After entering the park, about a mile or so in, you’ll have a choice to take a right toward Cades Cove (which will lead to a number of waterfalls, including Abrams Falls) or a left toward the other park entrance and Gaitlinburg.
  3. Take a left, and drive about 0.6 miles, where you’ll notice Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls on your right. (The parking area was on the left.)

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~20′
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls?

Upper Busby Falls, Tennessee

As I’ve mentioned with Lower Busby Falls, both Upper and Lower Busby falls are rather forgettable waterfalls. While they’re not small waterfalls, they’re waterfalls that you can’t get very close to. You’re standing on the Bobo Creek Trail, which is maybe 40 or 50 feet above the waterfall below. There are a lot of trees in the way, and I don’t remember any safe way to get closer to the falls. Luckily, you’ll be rewarded with Machine Falls, which is also on the trail.

Directions:

  1. If you’re on US-41A in the very center of Tullahoma, you’d head northwest for just a few blocks to E. Hogan Street and take a right.
  2. Drive along E. Hogan Street for a few blocks until you reach Country Club Drive on your left. Turn left.
  3. Drive along Country Club Drive and keep going. It will turn into Short Springs Road. You’ll drive for a few miles along this road.
  4. It’s hard to miss the parking area for the waterfall. If you’re on the correct road, you’ll come to a white water tower on your right. Immediately after this tower is the parking area for Short Springs Natural Area (also on your right).
  5. Park here and safely cross the road. The trail starts here. Veer left onto the Bobo Creek Trail. Upper and Lower Busby Falls are along Bobo Creek, which will be to your left.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: ~20-30′
Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip (to see Upper/Lower Busby and Machine Falls)

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Upper Busby Falls in January 2016

Where in the World is Upper Busby Falls?

Lower Busby Falls, Tennessee

As I was just looking at the name, the picture, and the map of this waterfall, I couldn’t exactly remember any vivid details about this waterfall. And then it clicked, Lower Busby Falls is a waterfall that is honestly passed without being able to get very close and personal, and that will likely affect how you recall this waterfall.

This waterfall is found along a very enjoyable trail just north of Tullahoma, Tennessee in the Short Springs Natural Area. When I visited in early January, the weather was very enjoyable. As you’re walking along the trail, if you go in a loop, you’ll pass Lower Busby Falls. You’re standing above the waterfall as you view it, and there’s a pretty steep drop that prevents you from getting any closer. So I shot a few pictures of the falls and then went further along the trail. (The same is mostly true for Upper Busby Falls.) The real attraction here is Machine Falls, which is truly beautiful and also is much more personal. So to keep it sweet and short, Lower Busby Falls isn’t the top bill here, but more like a bonus waterfall that you get to add to your list.

Directions:

  1. If you’re on US-41A in the very center of Tullahoma, you’d head northwest for just a few blocks to E. Hogan Street and take a right.
  2. Drive along E. Hogan Street for a few blocks until you reach Country Club Drive on your left. Turn left.
  3. Drive along Country Club Drive and keep going. It will turn into Short Springs Road. You’ll drive for a few miles along this road.
  4. It’s hard to miss the parking area for the waterfall. If you’re on the correct road, you’ll come to a white water tower on your right. Immediately after this tower is the parking area for Short Springs Natural Area (also on your right).
  5. Park here and safely cross the road. The trail starts here. Veer left onto the Bobo Creek Trail. Upper and Lower Busby Falls are along Bobo Creek, which will be to your left.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: ~30-40′
Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip (to see Upper/Lower Busby and Machine Falls)

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Lower Busby Falls in January 2016

Where in the World is Lower Busby Falls?

Meigs Falls, Tennessee

I’ve visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park a few years ago starting from Asheville, and this time approached the park from Knoxville. I didn’t have much time, and decided to check out just a few smaller falls that didn’t require much hiking. Meigs Falls is the main waterfall that shows up on searches for easy-t0-access waterfalls in the park, but I was surprised to find out (maybe not extremely surprised) to find out that there are a number of other smaller waterfalls nearby. (Entering in, it was easy to catch a view of Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls.)

Meigs Falls is really only viewed from a distance, though it’s not a terrible distance. If you know where to look, it’s as easy as pulling over to the designated parking area, getting out, and taking pictures! It’s a nice waterfall, though it isn’t as intimate as some other falls. In mid-February, the falls were definitely flowing. And it was a balmy 60 degrees, so it was enjoyable to just explore the park.

Directions:

  1. I took US-321 from Knoxville into the park. Once you’re on the Lamar Alexander Parkway, it’s pretty difficult to miss the entrance. There are signs everywhere!
  2. After entering the park, about a mile or so in, you’ll have a choice to take a right toward Cades Cove (which will lead to a number of waterfalls, including Abrams Falls) or a left toward the other park entrance and Gaitlinburg.
  3. Take a left, and drive about 5 miles along the beautiful winding, curvy road, and you will notice a pulloff to your right. If you look out, you’ll see Meigs Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: roadside

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Meigs Falls in February 2016

Where in the World is Meigs Falls?

Morgan’s Steep Falls, Tennessee

Morgan’s Steep Falls in January 2016

I decided to take a trip to northern Alabama to see waterfalls, and ended up in Tennessee in the process. One of the first falls I tried to find was called Falls Mill Falls, and as I pulled up, I found out that it is closed for part of the winter. I then headed off to Sewanee, as I had a reservation at the Sewanee Inn, which is a very nice place to decide to stay. I was tired, so I ended up napping…and I never really thought I should check to see if there are any waterfalls in the area!

The next morning, as I was looking in my book of Tennessee waterfalls, I then discovered that there were a few waterfalls within 1 mile of my location! I could have been exploring those the day before! I still decided to check out one of the falls in the area.

There are at least three falls within a short distance of each other in Sewanee. The one you see here is Morgan’s Steep Falls, which is very easy to observe. The other two are Proctor Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, which I didn’t visit because they required longer hikes (and I hadn’t eaten yet). Each of those falls are found by hiking in opposite directions from Morgan’s Steep Falls.

Morgan’s Steep Falls isn’t the tallest or maybe even the prettiest waterfall, but because it’s so easy to get to, I would recommend stopping. From the (what I think was) a gravel parking area, it was a short 0.1 mile hike down some steps to see Morgan’s Steep Falls. Getting a good view of the falls did require a little bit of maneuvering, but even younger kids should be able to handle this falls. And as a side note, if you don’t like this waterfall, there are many other waterfalls in the area! Check those ones out too!

Directions:

  1. From US-41A, turn onto University Avenue (which forms a loop that connects back into US-41A).
  2. Drive along University Avenue to South Carolina Avenue.
  3. Turn onto South Caroline Avenue. Drive along South Carolina Avenue to the junction with Laurel Drive.
  4. You can really take either direction, as another loop is formed. If you take a left along Laurel Drive (more like veering left), you’ll end up circling back onto South Carolina Avenue later.
  5. The parking area for the falls is found at the end of this loop (or at least what I think was the parking area). It was a gravel area. (Make sure not to park on any private residences.)
  6. From there, go back to the trailhead. There is a sign for Bridal Veil Falls, but you want to take the stairs down to the other trail. Keep going along that path, and you will shortly arrive at Morgan’s Steep Falls.

Accessibility: 8/10 (stairs and a bit of maneuvering)
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip
Height: ~10′

Where in the World is Morgan’s Steep Falls?