Falls State Natural Area, located in Middle Tennessee, lies on
the eastern edge of Tennessee's Highland Rim adjacent to the Cumberland
Plateau and is noted for its natural beauty. Sheer bluffs, narrow
ridges, rolling water and abundant mixed forest, characterize
this area. The Falling Water River drops approximately 250 feet,
providing numerous waterfalls, breathtaking scenery and overlooks.
The park is home to over 300 species trees and plants and an abundance
of wildlife. Park visitors can visit the large Native Butterfly
Garden located adjacent to the upper parking lot.
The history of Burgess Falls can be traced back over three
centuries. Before European settlement, Indians of the Cherokee,
Creek and Chickasaw tribes shared this region as a hunting ground.
One of the first white settlers, Thomas Burgess, received a
land grant here in 1793 as payment for his service in the Revolutionary
War. By the late 19th century, a gristmill and sawmill were
in operation on the river here. For the growing logging and
farming communities, the Falling Water River played a key role
by providing energy and recreational opportunities. Under protection
as a State Natural Area since 1973, visitors today may enjoy
the same scenic splendor of Burgess Falls, easily seen from
the River Trail.
Learn more about the history of Burgess
Falls State Park.
Boats are not allowed below the dam and fishing boats are allowed
only in the shallow lake above the dam. Due to heavy silting
and lack of a boat ramp this is not a desirable lake for boating.
Trolling motors are the only type of motor allowed on boats.
Events and Programs
Educational programs include Hikes, Landscaping with Native
Plants, Butterfly Identification Walk, Birds of Prey, Creek
Studies, and Reptiles and Amphibians. The Native Butterfly Garden
is the winner of the 2006 Governor's Environmental Stewardship
Award in Excellence in Parks and Recreation.
Fishing is year-round. Most common catches are large and small
mouth bass, brim and carp. The most popular fishing sites are
along the lake, below the dam and below the main falls. The
waters of Center Hill Lake reach the base of Burgess Falls.
There is no boat ramp. Anglers age 13 and older must have a
valid TN fishing license.
Army Corps of Engineers/Center Hill Lake
The main 1.5-mile round-trip river trail/service road loop
takes you past four waterfalls on the Falling Water River. The
waterfalls are 20' cascades, 30' upper falls, 80' middle falls,
and 136' lower falls in height. Most people prefer to hike back
to the parking lot along the service road. The 1-mile Ridge
Top Trail is very scenic with views down the main canyon of
the Falling Water River. Trails are moderate in difficulty.
All trails are foot trails. Bikes, horses, etc. are not permitted.
From The Tennessee Conservationist's Great
With Fran Wallas:
Falls State Natural Area Offers the Most Waterfalls in the Shortest
Burgess Falls is a natural area in Putnam and White Counties
and is located approximately thirteen miles southwest of Cookeville.
It is managed by Tennessee State Parks. Burgess Falls lies on
the rugged dissected eastern edge of the Eastern Highland Rim
resulting in the occurrence of sheer bluffs, narrow ridges,
waterfalls, and diverse forest communities. It was named for
Tom Burgess, an American Revolutionary War veteran, who was
deeded the land in 1793 by the U.S. Government as partial payment
for his services. For many decades the Burgess family provided
settlers with meal and cut lumber from their gristmill and lumber
mill on Falling Water River above the falls. For more information
about this unique natural area visit the Division
of Natural Heritage.
Burgess Falls Natural Area offers picnicking below the dam
with a scenic view of the river. The park has 16 picnic tables,
12 of which are equipped with grills. None of the picnic tables
are equipped with water spigots. Picnic tables are not covered
and are available on a first come, first serve basis. A larger,
covered picnic pavilion can accommodate 80 people and can be
reserved up to a year in advance. The pavilion is equipped with
tables and grills. Restrooms and a playground are nearby. It
is ideal for supervised groups such as reunions and church groups.
Park staff offers year round interpretive programs for adults
and children. Curriculum based programs are offered for schools
and are provided on and off-site. Programs are also provided
for private groups upon request and availability of staff.
There is one playground located in the picnic area. Restrooms
are also located nearby.
Tour Buses are welcome but groups are encouraged to call in
advance to insure best service. Recommended parking for buses
is the first parking lot on the right as you enter the park.
The first lot is designed for buses, mobile homes, and large