9.16.2011

Burgess Falls State Natural Area

Burgess Falls has to be one of the best kept secrets in the area!  The falls is located in Sparta, TN right outside of Cookeville.  It's only about an hour drive from my house and I had never heard of it before.  It's a short (but strenuous) 1.5 mile hike round trip to see these falls.  It definitely gets the reward for "Most Bang for Your Buck" in my book - There are 3 good size waterfalls + lots of small cascades in a short 3/4 mile hike. As a caution, there are 300+ steps down into the gorge at the very end to get to the bottom of the lower falls.  Might not be a good idea if you have health problems.

Lower Falls
A little bit of history: Falling Water River was originally used by the Burgess family to power a grist mill. In the 1920's it was used to create power for Cookeville until TVA took over in the 40s. 


The steps actually bring you down to the right side of the waterfall.  Unfortunately, there were too many trees and people, so Lucas and I got the bright idea to cross the river.  That big waterfall drops a lot of water, obviously, so we hiked a good way down the river to find somewhere we could cross...with a lot of expensive camera equipment.  We got a little wet (we did, not the camera), but we did it! 


As I was skipping across and climbing over rocks along the uninhabited side of the river, I started merrily singing, "Snakes, snakes, come out and play"...until I hopped right over one.  Fortunately I didn't see its face, I saw its body slithering between rocks though! I screamed and ran, then paused for .2 seconds when I realized Lucas was behind me and I had to warn him.  He had already stopped, of course, due to my super girly reaction.  Later he said he thought it was a copperhead.  Great. After that, he was my look out so nothing could sneak up on me while taking pictures.

The Cascades

The river drops almost 300' in that short 3/4 miles. The waterfalls are 20' cascades, 30' upper falls, 80' middle falls, and 136' lower falls in height.

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