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Cascading Through the Country: Waterfalls Around Manchester, TN

With 56 state parks and 75 natural areas located across the state, Tennessee lays claim to countless waterfalls waiting to be explored by visitors and natives alike. Whether you’re seeking an adventurous family outing, a rustic afternoon in the outdoors with your significant other, or an hour of peaceful alone time in nature, there is surely a cascading waterfall ideal for your Middle Tennessee day trip.

Check out each of these beautiful sites, all within 40 miles of Manchester:

Old Stone Fort | 732 Stone Fort Dr., Manchester

A short drive from downtown Manchester, the Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park boasts several smaller waterfalls and the larger Big Falls. The state park is built around a 50-acre Native American hilltop enclosure that is well-suited for observing Tennessee’s abundant wildlife or hosting a quiet picnic in the grass. The Big Falls is located along one of the park’s many hiking trails and is the largest single drop on the Big Duck River. Though not easily accessible by foot, you can see the falls from the hiking trails above and below the fort, or the large rock sitting above the falls. Other waterfalls, including the Blue Hole Falls, are reachable by the park’s well-maintained and relatively flat trails.

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.4 miles

Drive time from Manchester: 5 minutes

Rutledge Falls | 1289 Rutledge Falls Road, Tullahoma

Known in the area as the waterfall that got its big-screen debut in “Hannah Montana: The Movie,” Rutledge Falls is located on private property in Tullahoma. Open from dawn to dusk, the waterfall is a short walk from the parking area across from a nearby church and a popular summertime spot among adrenaline junkies who like to jump off the top of it into the chilly—and, most importantly, deep—pool below. Meandering along the gravel path, you’ll be greeted by a stately female statue at the top of the falls, before taking a quick, albeit steep descent to the bottom (pro tip: pack those close-toed shoes). While at Rutledge Falls, enjoy the waterfall’s chilly swimming hole, go fishing in Crumpton Creek or follow the flowing water for miles. The waterfall and nearby red barn are also the perfect backdrop for family photographs.

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.1 miles

Drive time from Manchester: 10 minutes

Machine Falls | 2250 Short Springs Road, Tullahoma

Also just within the Tullahoma city limits, Machine Falls is situated at the 420-acre Short Springs State Natural Area. Short Springs is home to five miles of hiking trails, several smaller waterfalls and bluff views of one of the state’s premier spring wildflower locations. The 60-foot-tall Machine Falls is a slippery walk away from the Machine Falls Trail, which is indicated by white blazes on the trees. The hike to the waterfall is short but plentiful with elevation changes—ideal for a trail run or a long walk with your canine companion. Plentiful parking and a map of the area can be found beneath the large white water tower on Short Springs Road.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 0.6 miles

Drive time from Manchester: 15 minutes

Foster Falls | 498 Foster Falls Road, Sequatchie

Just seven miles from the quaint town of Tracy City, Foster Falls is located in South Cumberland State Park at the southern terminus of the long Fiery Gizzard Trail in Grundy County. Glimpse the 60-foot-tall waterfall from a clifftop overlook a few minutes from the parking area or take the rocky path to the bottom of the falls. Foster Falls is also home to a picturesque suspension bridge and a swimming hole to cool off from the hike at the end of the trail.

Level of difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Distance: 0.25 miles

Drive time from Manchester: 50 minutes

Greeter Falls | 435 Greeter Falls Road, Altamont

Due north of Tracy City, Greeter Falls is at the Savage Gulf State Natural Area in Altamont. Following a flat and sandy path, you’ll be given the option to visit the upper or lower areas of the waterfall. The upper area features a smaller waterfall surrounded by a small creek—an excellent area for wading in the water or sunbathing on the flat rocks. The lower area can be reached via several flights of stairs and a rocky, descending pathway to a swimming hole and one of the most scenic waterfalls on the list. For those hoping to hike further in the area, the Stone Door trail in Beersheba Springs, a 15-minute drive from Greeter Falls, promises beautiful outlooks and rocky bluffs.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 0.5 miles

Drive time from Manchester: 45 minutes


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