Waterfalls - 20 min read

20 Best Waterfalls Near Chattanooga (Easily Accessible For All)

Lauren Abbott

Lauren Abbott, Updated September 26, 2022

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As one of the biggest cities in Tennessee, Chattanooga has a variety of interesting sites to offer. The waterfalls in and around the city are some of the most unique options available for tourists to see.

There is an abundance of mountain trails around Chattanooga, with many of them leading to beautiful waterfalls. Some are hotbeds for tourists, such as Foster Falls, while others like Ruby Falls tower above the rest. Before traveling to see these gorgeous waterfalls for yourself, it’s best to know the features each one has to offer. 

Since Chattanooga has no shortage of waterfalls, it’s best to do some investigating before picking the best ones to visit. The following will help you decide which sights you will see when traveling through the area. 

1. DeSoto Falls

Credit: Stanislav Vitebskiy / Flickr


DeSoto Falls is a must-see attraction when visiting the Chattanooga area. Admission to enter DeSoto Falls is free per person but charges $4 per vehicle. 
The path to the waterfall is 3 miles long, requiring a decent amount of energy and water to cross.

The trail itself is fairly safe, although visitors should be wary of the steep drops that could happen if caution is not taken. At the bottom of the waterfall is a body of water that is free for the general public to enter as well. 

Parking is somewhat obscure but is located right outside the entrance to DeSotos Falls itself. The parking lot does often fill up during weekends, so try to plan accordingly or arrive early.

Address: DeSoto Falls Recreation Area, Cleveland, GA 30528
Cost Of Admission:  $4 per vehicle 
Difficulty To Access: Easy

2. Laurel Falls 

Credit: gary1614 / Flickr


Found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Laurel Falls is free of charge to explore. It is advised that children or pets do not come along, especially since the Laurel Falls are prone to bear sightings. 

The trail leading down to the waterfall is short and moderately difficult at 2.6 miles round trip. While the trail does have asphalt, it has become rather cracked throughout the years. 

Alongside the bears, visitors should beware of the trail itself, as there are plenty of areas on the ground to trip on when traveling to the waterfall. Guests should step carefully, as there are parts of the trail that have rather steep drops as well.

Due to how often Laurel Falls sees attractions, parking can get crowded or even full at times. It’s best to try and come as early as you can to ensure a spot is found for a stress-free day. 

Address: Little River Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Moderate

3. Lula Falls 

Credit: Valkyrie_VF2X / Flickr


Lula Falls is by far one of, if not the hardest, waterfall to access on this list. The Lula Lake Land Trust is fully committed to the protection of the lake, waterfall, and trails within the area. 

As such, reservations need to be made at least two months in advance to visit. In addition, reservations are only made per vehicle and do not include buses. 

If you can successfully manage a reservation to Lula Falls, you will find many mountain trails to walk along and observe nature as it is.

Thanks to the efforts provided by the Land Trust, Lula Falls is among the cleanest of all the falls around Chattanooga. The team does their best to ensure a clean environment for both visitors and native species within, which is done with the most care possible. 

Hikes here are long, with the shortest one spanning 2 to 3 hours. As a result, it’s best to bring at least 2 liters of water, running shoes, and sunscreen. 

The longest one spans 4 to 6 hours, running through mountain trails and rock climbs until the target destination is reached. While these hikes can be taken alone, there are tour guides available. The tour reservations will cost $40, while solo admissions are only $16.

Parking is relatively close, with a bit of a walk until the lake itself is finally reached. Depending on the hiking trail taken, this can range from 0.5 miles to 1.5 miles in total.

Address: 5000 Lula Lake Rd, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750
Cost Of Admission: $16-$40  
Difficulty To Access: Difficult

4. Julia Falls 

Credit: Spencer / Flickr


Julia Falls finds itself as one of the most affordable options for visitors of the Chattanooga area. Admission is charged only for Point Park itself and not Signal Point.

The fee for Point Park is only $10 for people aged 16 or older, as children aged 15 or younger are admitted for free. Julia Falls is overlooked by a battlefield from the Civil War, adding a historical flair to the scenic forest and waterfall.

There are multiple attractions to be seen around Julia Falls, such as Lookout Mountain Battlefield and the Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District.

Most nearby attractions are free to visit, but guests should expect to pay at least $10 extra for Point Park in particular. Parking is located by Signal Point, the range just above Julia Falls.

The walk towards the actual waterfall is only 1 mile, putting the distance between parking and the attraction rather close. However, the hike down is considered to be technical and difficult, considering how steep and unkept the wildlife may happen to be that day.

Address: 9233 Sunny Shore Ln, Chattanooga, TN 37416
Cost Of Admission:  Free – $10
Difficulty To Access: Moderate

5. Machine Falls 

Credit: Shane / Flickr


While getting to Machine Falls may take a bit of effort, it is offset by the fact that admission is free of charge. There is no cost to visit the waterfall, allowing visitors to enter year-round. 

The trail to Machine Falls is once again a short and steep hike, taking only a little over an hour to make the journey down or up the trail. The trail itself is a loop, making it rather simple to return after viewing the waterfall. 

Parking is somewhat obscure, as signage is limited. Instead, it is better to look out for the large water tower that the trail is marked across from.

The trail itself is connected to the Short Springs State Natural Area. It gives a clear indication of the nearby parking lot location for convenience.

Upon arrival, visitors are welcome to jump in the water and enjoy the gorgeous view. The waterfall itself is 6 feet tall and wide, looming above the comparatively shallow water.

Address: 1861 Short Springs Rd, Tullahoma, TN 37388
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Moderate

6. Falling Water Falls 

Credit: Chris Berrier / Flickr


The public has free, full access to the Falling Water Falls from sunrise to sunset. Parking tends to be slightly limited, so it is best to arrive as early as possible. 

The hike is 1.5 miles in and out of the falls, making it rather average in length compared to the majority of the falls on this list.

The path itself is safe enough for both adults and pets and dogs to make the journey. Dogs are welcome on the trail, as long as they are held on a leash at all times.

Address: 955 Falling Water Trail, Walden, TN 37377
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Easy

7. Burgess Falls 

Credit: Tim Curtis / Flickr


Burgess Falls are located within a public park and offer free admission. However, guests should be sure to check the weather in advance.

Rock crossing and cables largely cover the path to the falls. As a result, the area is prone to flooding and will be closed off in the event of any safety hazards. 

The trail is a total of 2.7 miles back and forth, making it a 5.4 mile roundtrip. The journey is rather technical, so it’s best to travel light and wear sturdy climbing boots.

Along the path, you will spot two different angles of the waterfall before finally getting up close to the top. While activities are somewhat limited at this location, the natural beauty of the surrounding nature is still a sight to behold.

Address: 4000 Burgess Falls Dr, Sparta, TN 38583
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Easy

8. Fall Hollow Falls 

Credit: AI / Flickr


Fall Hollow Falls is free of charge and open to the public at all times. These falls are available for viewing all days of the year, making it an ideal rest stop or day trip. 

The journey over to the falls is a short 0.3 miles, making it the shortest visit to a waterfall on this list. The nearby rocks pose a potential safety risk, especially when wet. Visitors are advised to exercise caution and avoid climbing in these areas. 

It is safe for dogs to come along on the journey, however they must be leashed at all times. The 10-minute trail is easily located at a small parking spot on the side of the Natchez Trace Parkway. 

This parking lot has very limited space. However, the chances of it being filled are slim, so don’t expect any waiting lines for this short and sweet stop.

Address: Natchez Trace Parkway, Milepost 391.9, Hohenwald, TN 38462
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Easy

9. Greeter Falls 

Credit: Mike Stephens / Flickr


Greeter Falls is another must-see destination in the Chattanooga area. Viewing the falls is free all year, but additional experiences may incur a cost. 

Visitors are able to pitch a tent in the nearby campground for a daily fee. This ranges from $19.75 per day as a solo traveler to $29.75 per day for families.

An entire compound is available to rent nightly for an increased cost. Yurts and RV compounds are able to accommodate larger parties. 

There is a lot of breathtaking nature to soak in as you travel down the 1.1-mile path to both the Upper Falls and Lower Falls. Each one allows visitors to enter the water below.

Guests should be sure to walk carefully, as the trail is both steep and slippery. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trail as well. 

Parking for the Greeter Falls is located in a parking lot right outside of the Savage Gulf State Natural Area. It is best to arrive as early as possible to ensure parking availability.

The falls are rather popular in the spring and summer time, bringing larger crowds, which is something to keep in mind. 

Address: 2540 55th Ave N, Altamont, TN 37339
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Difficult

10. Jackson Falls 

Credit: Jeff Badger / Flickr


The 0.75-mile one-way trail leading to Jackson Falls is generally safe, as it is paved for visitors to walk across. In the wintertime, however, the pavement can get rather slippery.

There are railings for safety, but caution should still be taken when visiting during this time. A trip to Jackson Falls is free of charge every day year-round. 

If desired, there are picnic tables and grills beside public restrooms for general use. This provides the perfect opportunity to have a picnic after viewing the waterfall. Parking is just off the Natchez Trace Parkway, with signs indicating where the falls are located. 

Address: Natchez Trace Pkwy, Hohenwald, TN 38462
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Easy

11. Cummins Falls 

Credit: Chuck Sutherland / Flickr


The path down to Cummins Falls is fairly short and safe for all ages. However, it still requires some care, as the path gets tangled with roots and rocks.

The trail down is still only a .5-mile walk, but visitors should be careful not to step or trip on jagged rocks. Cummins Falls State Park is located in a free park, open to the public every day of the year.  

After hiking down to the base of the falls, guests can take a dip in the water below. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trail and in the water. 

Parking can be found right outside the Cummins Falls State Park entrance and is rather spacious. With plenty of other visitors coming and going, it is best to arrive as early as possible to secure a spot. 

Address: 390 Cummins Falls Ln, Cookeville, TN 38501
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Easy

12. Ozone Falls 

Credit: Comp65 / Flickr


Open sunrise to sunset, the Ozone Falls are free and open to the public. While this does include pets, it is not recommended to bring them as the path can be very dangerous. 

The trail from the parking lot to the falls is a short walk, spanning roughly 0.2 miles maximum. The short hike down is a bit steep, however. 

With no railway on the sides, it can be a dangerous drop and requires care while walking. The path down boasts views of a creek right before stopping at the top of the waterfall’s drop-off. At the bottom, visitors can enter the water for a swim. 

Parking space is very limited, as the only spots available are just off the sides of the Ozone Falls State Natural Area. Those who wish to view the Ozone Falls should arrive to the park as early as possible. 

Address: 14859 US-70, Rockwood, TN 37854
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Easy

13. Twin Falls 

Credit: Emanuel Dragoi / Flickr


Twin Falls are located within the Rock Island State Park. Visitors can stop in for the day to view the falls or reserve a campsite for a few nights to get the full experience. 

The hike to the base of the falls is a rather simple 1.5-mile walk, though the trail turns into just rocks if you wish to get a closer look.

If just a view is suitable enough, all you need to do is walk down the stairs right outside the parking spot to get a good glimpse at the beautiful Twin Falls.

It’s important to know beforehand that there are no bathrooms in the area unless you wish to travel to the Rock Island State Park. This should be kept in mind for travelers looking to make a day trip to Twin Falls. 

The parking space specifically for the falls is rather limited. However, the Rock Island State Park is spacious and can accommodate more visitors with an additional walk. 

Address: 10821 Park Rd, Spencer, TN 38585
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Easy

14. Fall Creek Falls 

Credit: Maciej Ciupa / Flickr


The Fall Creek Falls, located within the Fall Creek Falls State Park, is a beautiful sight to see near Chattanooga. There are many attractions located around the area to spend your money on if desired, but the trail to the falls itself comes at no cost.

There are many individual hiking trails to choose from, both short and long. All of them lead down to the bottom of the falls, varying only in the distance.

The shortest ones range from 0.2 miles to 4.6 miles, while the longest ones are overnight trails lasting 13.2 miles and 14 miles. 

Fall Creek Falls State Park has an abundance of attractions to offer, with plenty of activities to suit any preference. From gift shops and restaurants to golf courses and tennis courts, the amount of recreation one can engage in here is on par with a resort.

If you decide to stay here for an extended amount of time past the falls themselves, multiple lodging options are provided with reservation requirements. The cheapest campsites are $9 to $11, but these are primitive campsites with no electricity. 

For sites closer to the state park, their prices range from $26 to $38, depending on the area. Lodges are also available for rent and cost the most, along with multiple venues for private events.  

There is optimal parking in the area, but crowds are likely due to all of the available attractions. Traffic should be expected, and it may take some searching before a parking spot can be found.

Address: 10821 Park Rd, Spencer, TN 38585
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Moderate

15. Ruby Falls 

Caption: xbn93 / Flickr


With reservations required for a visit, Ruby Falls is one of the more costly options on this list. The minimum entry for adults is $24.95, while a visit for children costs $13.95. There are several touring options to choose from upon arrival. 

Lantern Tours and Gentle Walking Tours are available for $39.95 each. Families are welcome, and children under two years old are granted free admission. Annual passes are an option for both children and adults who plan to visit frequently. 

The walk into Ruby Falls is completely guided from start to finish. A short film is shown during the beginning of the walk for the story behind the discovery of the falls.

As the trail is within a cave, the view is almost entirely rock formations. The scenery is uniquely beautiful and sets these falls apart from many others in the area. 

Restrooms are available within the building but cannot be accessed inside the cave. Cave tours last approximately 2 hours from start to finish. 

Parking is located right outside the entrance of the Ruby Falls building, accommodating a large number of visitors. Since Ruby Falls is a hotbed for tourists, guests should expect high traffic during their trip. 

Address: 1720 South Scenic Highway, Chattanooga, TN 37409
Cost Of Admission:  $24.95-$39.95
Difficulty To Access: Moderate

16. Hemlock Falls (Cherokee Falls) 

Credit: ash / Flickr


Right across from the Moccasin Street State Park are the Hemlock Falls, also known as the Cherokee Falls. Access to the waterfall requires walking on a trail that is free to enter. Pets are also allowed on the trail.

The trail itself is rather safe and short, spanning a 2-mile round trip total. The path to the falls is rather straightforward, though it should still be traveled down carefully as the edges do not have railings. 

The water at the bottom of the falls is perfect for swimming. People and pets are allowed to cool off in the pool after completing the hike. Guests should keep this in mind and bring appropriate clothing for a hassle-free experience. 

Address: 5501 State Highway 150, Sequatchie, TN 37374
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Easy

17. Mystery Falls 

Credit: Adam Haydock / Flickr


Mystery Falls is a historical area in Chattanooga connected to the nearby Lookout Mountain. Many years ago, the entrance was blocked off to prevent anyone from entering and potentially getting stuck inside.

As a result, there is no official admission fee to go inside. While there are no waterfalls to visit here, the Mystery Falls are worth noting as an interesting little detail among all the waterfalls that can be found.

The underground waterfall was discovered in 1885 by William Walker Anderson Jr. by complete coincidence. The falls were intended to be used for their water in the nearby towns, but were eventually abandoned in 1947 entirely.

By 1992, the entire area was closed off for good. There is no parking available, as exploration is not advised. The falls have been abandoned and sealed off for several decades, and should not be visited on foot. 

Address: 2102 Cummings Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37419
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Difficult

18. Foster Falls 

Credit: Csm242000 Photography / Flickr


This breathtaking waterfall is located in the Foster Falls Recreational Area. Multiple trails can be taken down to Foster Falls, ranging from 2 miles to 10 miles. 

The water at the bottom of the waterfall is perfect for a swim on a hot day. Rock climbing spots are also available nearby for adventure-seekers.

Camping reservations can be made for an overnight stay. Prices range from $9 to $35 depending on which area you choose to stay in. 

Parking is located at the entrance of the Foster Falls Recreation Area, with space to accommodate a fair number of visitors. The earlier, the better, especially during the spring and summer times when the attraction is most crowded. 

Address: 498 Foster Falls Rd, Sequatchie, TN 37374
Cost Of Admission:  Free – $35
Difficulty To Access: Easy

19. Glen Falls 

Credit: Alan Cressler / Flickr


Glen Falls is another worthwhile trip to take when visiting the Chattanooga area. It is located in a public park, offering free entry to people and pets year-round. 

The trail to Glen Falls is a simple 2-mile round trip. The journey is considered to be safe with minimal dangers. Caution should be taken when the trail is wet, however. 

Parking is located right outside the trail itself for convenient access. While the space is limited, traffic is not as likely. The area is secluded and does not get as many visitors as the more popular waterfall destinations. 

Address: Glen Falls Trail, Chattanooga, TN 37409
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Easy

20. Rainbow Falls 

Credit: Ronald / Flickr


Rainbow Falls is a free attraction in the Chattanooga area. While this location is family friendly, pets are not allowed. 

The trail is rough, taking plenty of time and energy to reach the waterfall. The steepness and a lack of railings are common, but the distance itself is rather long at 5.7 miles for a round trip. 

Be sure to watch for signs that keep you on the right track, as the path will eventually diverge and lead to dead ends. Visitors are free to swim in the water after reaching the end of the trail. Guests are advised not to climb the rocks, as slippery conditions can cause injury. 

Parking is located at the entrance of the Rainbow Falls, on Cherokee Orchard Road. There is plenty of room to fit a decent amount of cars. Due to its remote location, visitors should not expect to encounter large crowds. 

Address: Rainbow Falls Trail, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Cost Of Admission:  Free
Difficulty To Access: Difficult

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