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Do you love a good hike with a waterfall at the end? If yes, then here is your guide to hiking Fall Creek Falls with kids!

The hubs, big kids (9 & 7 at the time), and I went on an Eastern US Road Trip this past summer. We left the toddler back in Texas with Nana since we had so many “big kid” things planned for our trip.

One of the things I was most looking forward to on our trip was hiking with the kids to the base of Fall Creek Falls. One of our friends did the hike earlier in the summer and convinced me to add this stop to our itinerary.

Fall Creek Falls State Park is smack dab in the middle of Tennessee – about an hour North of Chattanooga, an hour and 40min Southeast of Nashville, and two hours West of Knoxville. We took a little detour on our drive from Nashville to Dollywood for some beautiful scenery, good exercise, and fresh air.

The State Park, which is nearly 30,000 acres, has four waterfalls. The largest waterfall, named Fall Creek Falls, is the one we hiked. It’s the highest free-fall waterfall East of the Mississippi.


We parked at the Scenic Loop Road Parking Lot. From the parking lot, the overlook is a few minutes walk. There is a bathroom near the overlook.

The overlook has amazing views of the falls and is a great picture spot! It’s nice to get the different perspectives of the falls – from the top and the bottom. If we would have visited after a big rain, I bet the falls would have been flowing a lot more! It was still beautiful to see, even if the water wasn’t rushing heaps.

To start your hike down to the base of the falls, walk to the left of the overlook and follow the wooden railing down down down the steps. You’ll follow the path until you get to the bottom of the falls.

Watch your step! I fell on a couple of slippery rocks not once, but twice! And I’m normally quite coordinated, if I may say so myself. The family had a good laugh about it, after checking to see if I was okay.

There is so much to see along the way, that it took us about 45 minutes to get to the base of the falls.

The water was FREEZING in late August. The kids were super keen to get in after getting all sweaty on the hike. After their feet hit the water, squeals followed with lots of “it’s so cold! It’s freezing! Come get in with us!”

The hubs and I are not fans of cold weather or cold water, but I was the sucker who got the short straw this day. I lasted a few minutes in waist deep water, then got out and explored more around the base of the falls.

The walk back up to the overlook can be rough for knees that aren’t as youthful as your kiddos’. You’ll definitely be huffing and puffing by the time you get to the top! Take it slow and use the handrail, when needed.


  • Wear comfortable tennis shoes/hiking shoes and bring water shoes in your backpack. (our water shoes: husband’s ; mine; kid’s) I didn’t want to walk back up with wet shoes on our feet after swimming, so we dried our feet off and put our tennis shoes back on.
  • Wear your swim suits with athletic clothes over them. This was a great call for the kids. After swimming, I held up a towel for them and had them put their clothes on for the walk back up. It’s not super comfortable to hike in wet swimsuits.
  • Apply non-toxic sunscreen in the parking lot before starting your hike (currently I’m using Badger sunscreen. It goes on super thick, so we don’t use much. We also don’t burn easily after living in Australia for years.) The hike is mostly shaded until you get down to the base of the falls.
  • Bring a backpack with a towel or two, water, and snacks in case you or the kiddos have bottomless pits as stomachs. Why are they always hungry??!?!!


Get to the State Park as early in the morning as possible! We arrived around 8:15am and by the time we did our hike, explored the waterfall, and hiked back up, the parking lot was full.

According to the Tennessee State Parks website, the park is open 24 hours but closes at sunset for day use.

There are clean restrooms at the Visitors Center. When we arrived, we stopped here for a potty break and grabbed a map of the State Park.

There is no fee to visit any Tennessee State Park.

The State Park also is a home to cabins, campsites, a golf course, a challenge course, playgrounds, an Olympic size pool, and 50+ miles of trails. There’s also a restaurant & lodge opening late 2021! You could easily spend a day or two exploring this State Park.

Do you enjoy hiking to see waterfalls?! Let me know your favorite waterfall hike in the comments below!

You might be interested in:

A Self-Guided Nashville Wall Mural Tour

An Afternoon in Franklin, Tennessee

24 Hours in Nashville {when most things are closed}

Seeing the USA, one road trip at a time


2 Replies to “Hiking Fall Creek Falls with Kids”

  1. Looks so beautiful! We are hiking in Tennessee (not this exact trail though) in just a few weeks and your tips are going to be so helpful! Thanks!

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About the Author

Hey there & welcome! I’m Mandi – wifey to my college sweetheart, mom to three crazy cute kiddos, and we are an American/Australian dual citizen family.  You’re in the right place of the blogging world if you love your kids, but also want to be encouraged to travel kid-free once in a while. I share about our luxury travels (kid-free & family), our love for healthy foods, and how we stay mentally/physically/emotionally well.