There are three waterfalls at Burgess Falls. This is the third, and the most breathtaking, of them.
OK... the Burgess Falls State Natural Area is more scenic than it is historic. But there is some history here. If you live within an hour or two drive from the place, it is a wonderful field trip. And if you drive from Knoxville to Nashville, or vice versa, you really should stop in and see the place. You'll be utterly overwhelmed by its beauty and by how interesting it is.
The informational display
When you get to Burgess Falls we suggest you find the informational display and read up on the history of the place. In the 1920s, the city of Cookeville built a hydroelectric dam here -- which is a dam that uses running water to generate electricity. There is still a dam here, just above the first of the three falls that make up Burgess Falls. But it hasn't been used to generate electricity since 1944.
We walked the trail that runs along the river and suggest you do the same. Here are some things you'll see along the way (click on images to make them MUCH larger):
A sign at the beginning of the trail.
The view from the first part of the trail.
The First Falls. We were pretty impressed, but had no idea how much was yet to come.
What's left of an old bridge across the river. By the way, this bridge wasn't built for people to walk across it; it was built to carry a tunnel that carried water from the dam upstream to the place where they made power downstream.
More of what's left of the old pipeline bridge.
This old photo that you can see at the information display shows you what the pipeline bridge once looked like.
The trail gets steep in places
The Big Falls. Now believe us when we tell you that pictures can't really capture this place. These falls are about 130 feet high, and when you are standing at the overlook looking at this thing it really does take your breath away.
Looking across the canyon, you can see some amazing rock layers.
You can also take a very steep trail which leads you to these stairs that take you to the base of the falls.
And you can either go back the way you came, or you can take a more direct route that'll get you back sooner.
Here is a map of how to get to the Burgess Falls State Natural Area. Click here
for directions and for more information.