Chasing Waterfalls during Spring Break in the Tennessee River Valley

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Families in search of a spring break trip where Mother Nature puts on a show in the form of falling water will want to visit the Tennessee River Valley. Waterfalls scattered throughout Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, each with their own unique personality, are waiting to be discovered.

Wild streams, box canyons, waterfalls, rock shelters and sandstone bluffs encompass the 700 acres where you’ll find Lacefield Falls. (Photo credit: John Dersham)

“Chasing waterfalls has become a popular pastime for people of all ages,” said Tami Reist, president/CEO of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. “The serenity and beauty found with these natural wonders help soothe the soul and connect with nature.”

With spring break right around the corner, parents are searching for things to see, do and experience together as a family. Hit the backroads this spring break to the many waterfalls found throughout the Tennessee River Valley. Just as unique as the water flows over and cascades down, the waterfalls of the Tennessee River Valley have a story to tell. Scenic falls range from gentle cascades tucked into wilderness areas and forests to impressive drops plunging into mighty canyons.

The journey begins when departing the car and hitting the trail to the hidden treasures. While some require a minimal hike to reach, many are just a short walk away and can be reached within minutes.

One of Alabama’s nicknames is “Land of a Thousand Waterfalls” and North Alabama is home to some of the most picturesque areas in the state. The journey starts in the northwestern part of the state near The Shoals, birthplace of America’s most influential music. The Cherokees who once called this area home referred to the mighty Tennessee River as the Singing River and legend has it the flowing waters sounded to them like a woman singing.

Lacefield Falls is located in Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, a 700-acre privately protected and maintained scenic natural area in the Little Mountain region in northwestern Alabama. A large swath of wild streams, box canyons, waterfalls, rock shelters, and sandstone bluffs encompassing 700 acres remains nearly as pristine and wild as it did centuries ago. The preserve is situated around a complex of small sandstone canyons in the upper portion of the Cane Creek watershed of the Tennessee River basin. Along with Lacefield Falls, other favorite areas include rock shelters that were home to the state’s earliest Native Americans, house-sized blocks of sandstone and deep cliff shelters.

Located in DeSoto State Park near Mentone in northeastern Alabama, DeSoto Falls is formed from the Little River by cascading just over 100 feet into a large gorge. One of the most photographed points of interest in Alabama, DeSoto Falls is one of the tallest at 107 feet and most visited waterfall locations in the state. It also features numerous smaller falls. It is named for Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto.

Across the state line in Hiawassee, Georgia is the scenic High Shoals Falls. Located in a 170-acre scenic area, these falls have a succession of five waterfalls and have an estimated total vertical drop of 300 feet. The High Shoals Trail follows along High Shoals Creek to observation decks beside two of the five streams cascading in the High Shoals Scenic Area. This is a moderate in difficulty 2.5 mile round trip into where the falls are located and back to the parking area.

Tucked away in the rolling hills of Tennessee is Bald River Falls. The Bald River empties into the Tellico River and cascades over rocks forming a large waterfall, Bald River Falls. With a cascade of 90 to 100 feet, the waterfall offers stunning views. A hiking trail known as Bald River Falls Trail can be reached from a parking lot just past the waterfall. This 5.6-mile trail winds along the waterfall and the Bald River and is rated a moderate hike.

Located near Coker Creek, Tennessee, Coker Creek Falls Trail is a 4.7-mile moderately difficult trail located within the Cherokee National Forest. Grab a camera; hikers are treated to a series of beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes providing plenty of picturesque opportunities. Coker Creek Falls is tucked into a corner of Tennessee that is the only spot in the state ever to have produced gold and is very common for hikers to encounter people panning for it along the hike.

"Chasing waterfalls has become a popular pastime for people of all ages," said Tami Reist, president/CEO of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. "The serenity and beauty found with these natural wonders help soothe the soul and connect with nature."

Along with magnificent waterfalls, the Tennessee River Valley offers a compelling story, captivating visitors with its little unknown facts, pristine, untouched areas and rich, authentic experiences. Plan a spring break trip easily with the Tennessee River Valley Geotourism MapGuide, an online guide to explore authentic places and adventures that have been recommended by locals.

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