Trail Review: Burgess Falls State Park

Add some truth to that dating profile

We all have a friend that lists “hiking” on their online dating profile but hasn’t been in the woods since that one-mile concrete stretch of greenway they did once when they were dog sitting. The short round-trip trail at Burgess Fall State Park is a perfect way to re-introduce them to nature, add some truth to their profile, and perhaps fashion them into an awesome backpacking buddy.  

Finding the trail head is easy – it’s actually correct on Google Maps – and I’ve always found a parking spot. The weekdays are less crowded than the weekends, as with most trails. There are restrooms and a pavilion near the parking lot, and the beginning of the trail is made obvious by a lot of signage and the fact that, well, there’s just the one well-traveled trail.

There are several overlooks of the four beautiful waterfalls that increase in height, with the final waterfall plunging more than 130′ (41.5 m). You can also see the skeletal remains of an old suspension bridge stretching across the falls.

burgess falls 3
The Falling Water River generated hydroelectric power from 1928-1944. This bridge carried the flume (with water) from the dam upstream to a powerhouse below the big falls.

While you won’t encounter much wildlife on the actual trail due to the number of visitors, there are neat rock formations, small cascades, wooden bridges and overlooks, and a great flat rock “beach” of sorts at the base of the third falls, just above the final waterfall.

burgess falls 2

The trail is listed as 1.5 miles round-trip, and strenuous, but the difficult part of the trail that leads you into the gorge at the base of the final waterfall is closed indefinitely. My opinion is the open portion of the trail is moderate at best, and only if man-made steps tire you easily.

The falls are located about 1.5 hrs east of Nashville, which is a long enough drive to make the less than 1.5 mile trail feel substantial to someone being introduced to hiking. It’s a fun day trip, and if your group feels energetic, you can also explore nearby Window Cliffs State Natural Area and Edgar Evins State Park.

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