Burgess Falls State Park, Tennessee

If you are looking for something to do near Nashville, Tennessee then Burgess Falls is the perfect place for you to go. This gorgeous hiking trail is located between Chattanooga and Nashville and provides four waterfalls views along the River Trail. This waterfall trail leads to the iconic Burgess waterfall. The Burgess Falls hike is fairly easy to do and perfect for a family day hike. 

burgess falls state park tennessee waterfall hike overlay

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OUR HIKING TRIP STORY

It was the weekend of my birthday and my husband told me to pick a hike to go to. After about two weeks of thinking and looking through all of the saved places on my Google Maps I decided that Burgess Falls will be the one. It was an easy hike but from all the photos I’ve seen, it was worth it. 

I told my mom where we were planning to go and she immediately packed up and came to my house the day before. She wanted to go to this hike so badly that she didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity. 

Saturday came along and off we went. We drove about 2 hours from Clarksville, Tennessee to Burgess Falls State Park. The minute we parked I can already hear the river flowing and the nearby cascade. 

As we started on our trail we stopped at every gorgeous scenic spot and overlook that came across. We took in every minute we could from the cascades to the other three waterfalls. It was so worth the trip and short two hour hike. Definitely the highlight to my birthday weekend. 

burgess falls state park waterfall overlook in tennessee

Looking down to Burgess Falls from the overlook at the end of the River Trail.

ABOUT BURGESS FALLS STATE PARK

Burgess Falls State Park is known for its natural beauty and four exquisite waterfalls. This Tennessee state park is located on the Falling Water River and now a natural gem located in Sparta, TN. Originally this area was populated by Native Americans from the Cherokee, Creek, and Chickasaw tribes which they used as a hunting ground. In the late 19th century, Falling Water River was used to generate hydroelectric power for the city of Cookeville as well as used as an operating site for gristmills and sawmills. The territory didn’t become a Tennessee State Natural Area until 1973. Tennessee now protects the diverse forests and aquatic habitats located within what is now known as Burgess Falls State Park. 

Burgess Falls State Park also operates Window Cliffs State Natural Area but please keep in mind that though they are managed together, the trails on each area do not connect. The entrance to Window Cliffs is located approximately eight miles away from the entrance of Burgess Falls. You can learn more about this on their website here

falling cascades at burgess falls state park in tennessee waterfall river hike

Falling Water Cascades at the beginning of the River Trail.

HIKING TRAILS AT BURGESS FALLS

Burgess Falls State Park has three gorgeous trails for you to take. We did two of them when we visited. The two trails we took were the River Trail and Base of Falls Trail. Overall it took us about 1.5-2 hours. We did stop at every single overlook and beautiful scenic spot to take photos and give the little ones a break. 

The trail is very well kept and fairly easy. It does some have stairs on the trails which may be a little difficult for children so take it easy with them on these areas. Overall the park all together was amazing and very clean. 

RIVER TRAIL

When getting out at the parking lot we decided to start on the River Trail. We chose this hiking trail because it takes you past four waterfalls that run through the Falling Water River. These four waterfalls are pinned on the Google Map above. These include: 

  • Falling Water Cascades - a 20 foot cascade.
  • Little Falls - 30 foot upper falls
  • Middle Falls - 80 foot middle falls
  • Burgess Falls - 136 food lower falls

After hiking through the waterfall trail and reaching Burgess Falls, most people hike back to the parking lot along the service road. This is the route that we took to get back as my little one was tired after doing Base of the Falls Trail.  

Length: 0.8 miles (approximately 1.6 mile round trip)

Difficulty Level: easy-moderate (it says strenuous on their website but for our family it wasn’t strenuous at all. Both of my kids (age 7 and 5) did it without any help or complaints. 

Terrain: rugged dirt trail with stairs in several areas of the trail. 

little falls burgess falls state park in tennessee river waterfall hike

Little Falls. This is the second waterfall you will see on the River Trail.

middle falls waterfall at burgess falls state park in tennessee overlook

Middle Falls on the River Trail at Burgess Falls State Park, TN. This is the third waterfall you will see on the River Trial right before reaching Burgess Falls.

BASE OF THE FALLS TRAIL

After reaching the final overlook at the end of the River Trail you have the option to do the Base of the Falls Trail. This trail is a little more difficult but not by a lot. Definitely hold your little ones hands as you go down. This trail leads to the base of the trail but due to some damage to the stairs leading to the base, you can no longer go all the way to the gorge.  

Length: 0.3 miles round trip

Difficulty Level: moderate (It says very strenuous on the website and their signs but it really wasn’t all too bad for us. My girls did it pretty well. On our way back up my youngest got tired and started to complain mainly because of all the stairs.)

Terrain: rugged dirt trail with stairs in several areas of the trail.

top of waterfall burgess falls state park tennessee

top of waterfall burgess falls state park tennessee

top of waterfall burgess falls state park tennessee stairs

The stairway to get to the gorge of Burgess Falls that is closed due to damage.

RIDGE TOP TRAIL

The Ridge Top Trail is the third trail that Burgess State Park offers. It is a scenic trail with beautiful views down the main canyon of the Falling Water River. We didn’t take this trail though but hope to do it next time we visit. 

Length: 1 mile round trip

Difficulty Level: easy 

Terrain: rugged dirt trail

FAMILY HIKING TIPS FOR ON THE TRAIL

BEFORE THE HIKE

Before going on the hike I highly recommend going to the bathroom as the only bathrooms in the area are near the parking lot. The bathrooms are very clean when we went. 

DURING THE HIKE

Some of the advice that I can give when hiking at Burgess Falls State Park with children is to do frequent stops when going through the stair areas of the trail. We actually stopped at every overlook and scenic spot to give the girls a break. 

Another tip is to stay hydrated. Drink lots of water throughout the trail and don’t forget to let your little ones have a snack. 

Also, because of the drop offs and cliff areas, please hold your children’s hands and keep a very close eye on them, especially at Burgess Falls area. At the end of Base of Falls Trail there is a drop off which is where Burgess Falls starts at. It is a very high drop so please be careful in this area. 

AFTER THE HIKE

Don’t forget to stop at the playground at the end of your hike to let the kiddos have some last bit of fun before heading out. We let our girls play and then had a picnic on the tailgate of my husband’s truck before heading out to Rock Island State Park to continue the fun. 

There are picnic tables available at Burgess Falls as well at the park or you can choose an area to lay a hammock or picnic blanket at. There were several families laid on the grass eating and at the picnic tables and pavilions when we were there. 

WHAT TO PACK

Burgess Falls is a short day hike. It took us approximately 2 hours to do both trails. Here is a quick list of the items we brought along with us as well as details on what to wear. 

  • Backpack: My husband brought along his assault pack for this hiking trip. I linked a similar one for reference. 
  • Hydration: We used our reusable water bottles for this hike. Our favorites are Hydroflask and Healthy Human. We love these bottles because it keeps our water nice and cold all day long.
  • Snacks: We brought some dehydrated mangos, trail mix, and our favorite Peak Sherpa energy bites. Use code TWM15 at Peak Sherpa for a 15% off. Looking for some other healthy snacks to take on the trail? Check out my list of Healthy Snacks For Kids here. 
  • Comfortable clothing: I highly recommend wearing comfortable clothes suited for the weather you will be in. I always recommend clothing that will dry fast.
  • Comfortable shoes: I wore my Nike Tanjun sneakers which are very comfortable for day hikes such as this one.
  • Mosquito Repellent: This is a must for my family. The mosquitoes seem to love my kids and husband very much but never seem to bother me at all. We like to use the Repel Plant Based Insect Repellent and never had any issues with it.

MORE PACKING TIPS FOR HIKING WITH KIDS

Want more tips on hiking with kids? I have created two hiking packing guides that will greatly help you out. If you are hiking with a baby then Baby Hiking Essentials is the guide for you. If you are hiking with toddler aged kids and up then Hiking with Kids Essential is the guide that you need to look at. 

OTHER HIKING TRAILS NEAR BURGESS FALLS

If you are looking for more hiking trails and campgrounds near Burgess Falls then here is a quick list of some of the ones I have visited and love. You can click on each one of them for more details about the hiking trails and campgrounds so you can better plan your next outdoor trip. 

LOCATION AND INFORMATION FOR BURGESS FALLS

Below you can find Burgess Falls address and phone number for easy directions. You can copy the address below and paste it in your GPS for easy navigation. 

4000 Burgess Falls Dr.

Sparta, TN 38583

(931) 432-5312

You can find the Burgess Falls trail map here for hiking navigation purposes. 

Don’t forget to check the Burgess Falls State Park website for advisories, possible closures and more details on this gorgeous park. 

Note: There is no camping at Burgess Falls State Park. There are, however, nearby campgrounds but are not part of the park. I haven't checked them out personally but did past a one or two on the way there. Rock Island State Park and Fall Creek Falls State Park are nearby and they do have a campground available.

little falls overlook waterfal tennessee burgess state park

Little Falls from the overlook from Burgess Falls Road.

SUMMARY OF BURGESS FALLS STATE PARK

Overall, we had an amazing time at Burgess Falls State Park. It is a fairly easy trail to do with your family and the gorgeous waterfalls make it worthwhile. I can’t wait to go back again. 

Have you ever been to Burgess Falls State Park? How did you like it? Which waterfall did you like best? 

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