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Bigger than Niagara Falls – at least by one measurement
By Tom Adkinson

fall creek falls
Fall Creek Falls; image by Tom Adkinson.
  fall creek falls suspension bridge
Fall Creek Falls suspension bridge; image by Tom Adkinson.

SPENCER, Tennessee – Fall Creek Falls, tucked away on the rugged Cumberland Plateau between Knoxville and Nashville, doesn’t carry anywhere close to the volume of water that Niagara Falls does, but Fall Creek Falls outdoes its New York cousin in one important measurement – it is far taller. With a plunge measuring 256 feet, Fall Creek Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States. Niagara Falls is downright squatty by comparison at 167 feet tall.

Just seeing a photo of Fall Creek Falls, surrounded by a hardwood forest in the middle of one of Tennessee’s largest state parks, is therapeutic, especially in these days of coronavirus confinement. Now that restraints are loosening, Fall Creek Falls and three other major cascades in the park are luring visitors for some appropriately socially distanced hiking and photography outings. A suspension bridge near Cane Creek Falls is one location where you don’t want a bunch of fellow hikers around you anyway.

fall creek falls
Fall Creek Falls; image by Tom Adkinson.

Fall Creek Falls State Park is notable in that it went from being a federal park to a state park. The federal government began buying land around the waterfall in 1937. In 1938, restoration of the badly eroded region began with labor from the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The National Park Service ceded it to the state in 1944. Today, the park has 30 cabins, 222 campsites and more than a dozen trails. Don’t be fooled by the shortness of the Base of the Falls Trail. Yes, it’s a quick one-third of a mile down to the plunge pool of Fall Creek Falls, but you’ll swear it’s many times longer than that on the way back up.

Trip Planning Resources: and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s new book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available at

Published May 29, 2020

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