Discover Tennessee’s Ultimate Waterfall Loop Road Trip For A Look At 11 Stunning Falls

Get ready for a splash-filled adventure with Tennessee’s ultimate waterfall loop road trip! 

Buckle up as we take you to eleven stunning waterfalls, each more breathtaking than the last. 

This guide will walk you through the beauty of each of the falls, provide an overview of the suggested route and directions, and even recommend some lodging options along the way for those who want to make this a multi-day adventure.

So start the car for a journey through East Tennessee’s eleven most spectacular waterfalls!

Cummins Falls

Credit: Instagram: jenniferrussell1105

Starting off, Cummins Falls captivates with its rugged beauty and status as one of Tennessee’s favorite swimming holes. 

Located in the Cummins Falls State Park, this 75-foot waterfall offers a stunning backdrop for a refreshing swim in its large, welcoming pool. 

Bring your water shoes and enjoy wading or swimming in this natural amphitheater carved out by centuries of flowing water.

Or feel free to simply hike to the falls for a view from afar. If you plan to access the falls and swimming hole area, you’ll need a day-use permit.

You can find more information about Cummins Falls State Park here.

Ozone Falls

Credit: Chase Norris

Journey onward to Ozone Falls, a powerful 110-foot plunge, hidden within its namesake state natural area. 

This waterfall’s claim to fame includes its appearance in the movie “Jungle Book,” providing a dramatic setting for film and photo alike. 

The short but steep trail to the base gives adventurers a close-up view of the waterfall’s might, surrounded by a tranquil forest.

Piney Falls

Credit: Instagram: molly.cooley

Next, explore Piney Falls, a splendid two-tiered waterfall set within a designated National Natural Landmark. 

Enjoy the thrill of walking behind the 80-foot upper falls for a unique perspective of the waterfall and the surrounding deep gorge. 

The area’s rich biodiversity, including rare plant species and significant old-growth forest, adds to the allure for nature enthusiasts.

Stinging Fork Falls

Credit: Instagram: leezybreezy

As you continue, discover Stinging Fork Falls, where a 30-foot waterfall awaits at the end of a scenic 1.9-mile round-trip hike. 

This lesser-known gem offers a serene experience, with the falls dramatically cascading into a small, clear pool below—perfect for dipping your toes on a hot day. 

The surrounding forest, with its rich canopy and birdlife, enhances this peaceful retreat.

Laurel Falls

Credit: Instagram: shepherdhikes

Then, head to Laurel Falls, an 80-foot waterfall within the expansive Laurel-Snow State Natural Area. 

Not only does the area boast stunning waterfalls, but also historic remnants like the Dayton Coal & Iron Company’s operations from the 1800s. 

The hike to the falls passes through this historical landscape, offering a fascinating glimpse into Tennessee’s industrial past alongside its natural beauty.

Fall Creek Falls

Credit: Instagram: corey_brinkley

The centerpiece of your trip, Fall Creek Falls, stands as a marvel of nature at 256 feet. It’s the highest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi. 

The park itself offers ample recreational activities from zip-lining across the gorge to hiking extensive trails that showcase additional waterfalls like Piney and Cane Creek Falls. 

For a full experience, consider camping here to enjoy both sunrise and sunset views over the cascades.

Cane Creek Cascades

Credit: Instagram: vivianni3

A short stroll from Fall Creek Falls, find Cane Creek Cascades, a wide and welcoming waterfall perfect for families. 

The accessible viewing area allows you to feel the mist on your face while capturing the picturesque beauty of the cascading waters. 

Nearby, the Betty Dunn Nature Center provides interactive exhibits on the local ecology, enriching your visit.

Piney Creek Falls

Credit: Jim Ross

Continuing the journey, Piney Creek Falls offers a dramatic 95-foot drop in a more secluded setting. 

The lack of direct trail access means it’s a quieter spot, ideal for those looking to escape the more crowded paths. 

The viewing area above the falls provides a breathtaking panorama of the rugged Piney Creek Gorge, etched deeply into the Cumberland Plateau.

Great Falls

Credit: Instagram: wtfudgery

Next, stop at Great Falls, a robust 30-foot waterfall in Rock Island State Park. 

This site combines historical and natural intrigue, with the remains of a 19th-century cotton textile mill nearby. 

After exploring the falls, take a moment to explore the mill’s ruins, which offer a poignant reminder of the area’s industrial history set against a backdrop of natural splendor.

Twin Falls

Credit: Instagram: nicolebonnier

Just up from Great Falls, Twin Falls offers a unique spectacle. 

Created unintentionally by dam construction, these falls spill gracefully from the rocky cliffs. 

Although you can’t swim here, the viewing platform provides a perfect spot for photography, especially in the fall when the surrounding foliage paints a vibrant tableau.

Burgess Falls

Credit: Instagram: hopie_abigail

Conclude your road trip at Burgess Falls, a stunning cascade of four waterfalls, each more impressive as you descend the trail. 

The main falls plunge over 130 feet into the gorge, a sight that is truly a grand finale to your waterfall tour. 

The park also offers picnic areas and several lookouts, making it a perfect spot to reflect on the journey you’ve enjoyed.

Recommended Lodging Along The Route

Towards the middle of this route there are a few different places you may want to stay to break it up into two or three days:

Stinging Fork Falls State Natural Area:

Grand Hotel in Spring City, TN

Try an Airbnb/VRBO/Rental Cabin on nearby Watts Bar Lake

Laurel Snow State Natural Area (Laurel Falls)

Several hotels nearby Dayton, TN including:

Econo Lodge
Sleep Inn & Suites
Holiday Inn Express

Fall Creek Falls State Park Area:

Cascade Inn At Fall Creek Falls
The Lodge At Fall Creek Falls


To explore Tennessee’s eleven most stunning waterfalls, you can technically start at any of the waterfalls you’d like that makes the most sense based on which direction you’re coming from.

And you could do this route clockwise or counter-clockwise…it really doesn’t make all that much difference.

Below is a high-level overview of the directions along the route provided.

  • For the sake of simplicity and based on the map provided, we’ll be starting at Cummins Falls in Cookeville.
  • From there, take I-40 E to Market St in Crab Orchard, then follow US-70 E to reach Ozone Falls.
  • Next, head northeast on US-70 E, turn onto Dogwood Rd, and follow Firetower Rd to Piney Falls Trailhead to check out Piney Falls.
  • Continue northeast on Firetower Rd, then take TN-68 S and Shut in Gap Rd to Stinging Fork Falls State Natural Area. 
  • From there, take Shut in Gap Rd to TN-68 S/US-27 S to reach Laurel Snow State Natural Area in Dayton where you’ll find the beautiful Laurel Falls.
  • Next drive via Back Valley Rd to TN-30 W, then take TN-284 W to Fall Creek Falls.
  • Head west on Scenic Loop Rd, then take Lakeside Rd to Village Camp Rd for Cane Creek Cascades. 
  • Continue on Lakeside Rd and Scenic Loop Rd to reach Piney Creek Falls. 
  • Then, take TN-284 W, Baker Mountain Rd, and Rocky River Rd to Great Falls. 
  • Finally, head east on TN-287 S and TN-136 N to Burgess Falls.

Total Mileage: Around 240 miles.
Total Drive Time: Around 6 hours.

It is highly recommended to use your phone for GPS to find each of these waterfalls, as it will provide you detailed directions. 

Just be sure you’ve entered the correct name or address of the falls, as there are some falls in the state that have the same or very similar names to other falls not near this route.

Simply type in the name of the next waterfall on the list that you want to navigate to when you’ve finished exploring the one before it on this list, and off you go.