Fall Creek Falls State Park – Pikeville, Tennessee - Atlas Obscura

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Pikeville, Tennessee

Labor provided by Great Depression-era programs restored these 25,000 acres in Tennessee. 


Home to one of the largest waterfall drops in the United States (and the largest one east of the Mississippi River), Tennessee’s Fall Creek Falls State Park has hosted several film shoots because of the natural beauty across its 25,000 rugged acres. Inside the park are plenty of first-class recreational facilities that draw more than just actors and studio executives. Outdoor enthusiasts visit the park for access its 50 miles of trails (20 miles of biking trails, 25 miles of hiking trails, etc.) and more.

The largest state park in all of Tennessee, most of Fall Creek Falls has been designated a natural wilderness areas. Getting there, though, took a while. The area was purchased by the United States government in 1935. Then, it was extremely remote and the surrounding area was sparsely populated. The Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Project Administration (WPA) programs that grew out of the Great Depression provided the necessary labor to restore the forest and severely-eroded land, which had been destroyed over centuries by flooding.

All of that work paid off. Today, the park is one of the most visited in the region and it boasts a half-dozen spectacular waterfalls (one is a record 256-foot plunge), the second-largest cave chamber anywhere in the United States, and an incredible biodiversity. A 345-acre lake in the southern section of the park has yielded state records for channel catfish and bluegill. A controlled dam at the edge of the lake assures continuing flow of water to the falls from which the park takes its name.

Know Before You Go

From Knoxville, take I-40 West to Crossville, Peavine Road, exit 322. Take a left off the exit, onto Hwy 101 South. At the four-way stop, go straight on Hwy 392, through the first traffic light (at 127). Continue straight to the second traffic light (Lantana Road, Hwy 101). Take a left turn onto Hwy 101 South and travel approximately 30 minutes to a dead-end. Turn left (still on Hwy 101 South) and go approximately four miles to Hwy 30. Turn right on Hwy 30 West. Park entrance is about five miles on the left (at Hwy 284).

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April 18, 2011

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