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Do go chasing waterfalls
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Burgess Falls in neighboring White County is a powerful and majestic return to nature.
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Josh Brock returns from an afternoon of kayaking at Twin Falls at Rock Island State Park. There are five major waterfalls that can be reached in about an hour's drive or less from McMinnville.

By Kelly Roberts

Special to the Southern Standard

Tennessee is home to over 500 waterfalls, many of which are located along the Upper Cumberland and Appalachian Mountains. Several of the most beautiful in the state are within a one-hour drive of Warren County, making it a perfect day trip for families and friends.

The two most widely known waterfalls in our area are Fall Creek Falls in Van Buren County and Twin Falls in Rock Island, both of which are easily accessible to view and impressive in size. Fall Creek Falls, at 256 feet, is one of the highest waterfalls in the Eastern United States. Fall Creek Falls State Park also boasts three other waterfalls and 35 miles of hiking trails to explore and enjoy.

If you are looking to spend the day a little closer to home, Rock Island State Park has a lot to offer with an easy walk to view Twin Falls. Created by underground runoff from the Collins River, Twin Falls emerges from the rocks instead of cascading over the top, making it a unique and impressive display of varying heights and drops. 

The falls, measuring 80 feet at the tallest point, were accidentally created when the Caney Fork River was dammed. While you are at the park, you can also enjoy camping, hiking, boating, and fishing on more than 880 acres of pristine waterways and wooded areas. 

Other impressive sites include four stunning falls at Burgess Falls State Park in White County. Rich in Native American history, the River Trail/ Service Loop is about a 1-5-mile round trip or you can take a long way around on a 5.4-mile round trip.

If you are an avid hiker, you will want to add Virgin Falls to your bucket list while you are in the White County area. The 110-foot waterfall is formed from a stream emerging from inside a cave and disappears into another cave at the bottom of the sink. 

Virgin Falls is part of a 1,157-acre natural area that offers additional waterfalls and several notable caves. The 9-mile hike in and out to view Virgin Falls is considered strenuous and could take up to nine hours to complete.

While you are road tripping east this summer, you will want to stop on the Eastern Highland Rim and cool off by taking a swim at Cummins Falls State Park. This rugged, 282-acre, day-use park is located nine miles north of Cookeville and has been a favorite spot for locals for over 100 years. 

Cummins Falls is the eighth largest waterfall in volume in the state and is 75 feet high.  You will need to plan ahead by purchasing a “Gorge Access Permit” through their website Limited spots are available and this is considered a strenuous hike. 

As with any adventure on or around water, you will need to take precautions, heed warning signs, and keep an eye on the weather. Many of these locations are prone to flooding, with water rising at astonishing rates in some areas. Visit the following websites for Rock Island State Park,

Fall Creek Falls State Park, Cummins Falls State Park, Virgin Falls State Natural Area and Burgess Falls State Park for more information.