Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area
Located on the Falling Water River, this day-use park is noted for its natural beauty and four waterfalls that cascade down from over 250 feet in elevation. The last of these falls is the most spectacular, plunging more than 130 feet into the gorge. The area was originally populated by Native Americans of the Cherokee, Creek and Chickasaw tribes. These tribes used the land as a hunting ground until the late 19th century when a gristmill and sawmill began operating on the river. The Falling Water River was used to generate hydroelectric power for the city of Cookeville from 1928-1944. In 1973, the territory became a designated Tennessee State Natural Area, protecting the diverse forest and aquatic habitats.
Window Cliffs State Natural Area
Window Cliffs is a day-use 275-acre state natural area that opened for public access in April 2017 that is managed by Burgess Falls State Park.
While it is managed by Burgess Falls State Park, the entrance to Window Cliffs is located eight miles away from the entrance to Burgess Falls. It is important for visitors to note that these are two separate locations that are not connected by any trails. You can find directions for Burgess Falls and Window Cliffs at the bottom of this page.
This day-use area is located in southern Putnam County approximately 18 miles south of Cookeville. Window Cliffs is a prominent geological clifftop feature that consists of a very narrow, elongated ridge that lies in the neck of an incised meander of Cane Creek. The trail is subject to closure due to flooding. Please check for active alerts at the top of this page before visiting Window Cliffs State Natural Area. Click the button below for additional information on Window Cliffs.
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Burgess Falls State Park offers several activities for family and friends to enjoy year-round. Fishing is popular below the dam and the main waterfall along the bank and at the fishing pier. There are no public boat ramps or canoe/kayak access areas in the park. A large covered pavilion equipped with grills and tables can be reserved for large groups and has a scenic view of the river. Additional picnic areas, most with grills, are conveniently located to restrooms and a playground is nearby. None of the picnic tables are equipped with water spigots and all are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Swimming is not permitted.
The River Trail/Service Road Loop is a moderately strenuous hike taking visitors past the waterfalls. 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 half-mile Ridge Top Trail is very scenic with views down the main canyon of Falling Water River. All trails are foot trails. Please note: there is no access to the gorge and the staircase has been removed. The overlook is open and offers impressive views.
While the park is popular for its waterfalls, wildlife, and wildflower viewing, the Native Butterfly Garden, adjacent to the upper parking area, is easily accessed and provides striking native wildflower displays.
During the summer, Burgess Falls offers Junior Ranger Camps to local youth. Each week-long camp is geared toward specific age groups and led by park rangers. The camps are a fun, hands-on way for kids to learn environmental education and experience the park's many natural resources.
Burgess Falls is a day-use park with spring through autumn being the most popular time to visit. Guests may want to consider visiting on a weekday, when the park may not be as busy.
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Window Cliffs is a 275-acre state natural area that opened for public access in April 2017. This day-use area is located in southern Putnam County approximately 18 miles south of Cookeville; it is managed by Burgess Falls State Park. Window Cliffs is a prominent geological clifftop feature that consists of a very narrow, elongated ridge that lies in the neck of an incised meander of Cane Creek.
Need to Know Before You Go
- Window Cliffs is a day-use area.
- The area opens at 8:00 AM and closes one hour before sunset, year-round. However, the gates close two hours before sunset, so visitors need to arrive 2 hours before closing to be able to visit.
- The trail is subject to closure due to flooding. Please check for active alerts at the top of this page before visiting Window Cliffs State Natural Area.
- There is a 2.7 miles trail open for hiking. Please allow at least two and a half hours to three hours to complete the 5.4-mile roundtrip. Start your return hike one and a half hours before sunset. This trail is considered difficult to strenuous.
- A round trip requires 18 creek crossings which can be challenging or impassable during high water as there are no bridges, only cables, and rock crossings. Water can, at times, begin to rise in the creek unexpectedly due to rain in the watershed. There will be times that the area is closed due to high water. Always check the weather reports before heading out.
- The less you take on the hike the better. It is best to limit belongings to items that will fit in a small backpack. Keep your hands free.
- Wear sturdy shoes that can get wet. Flipflops are not recommended.
- Pets are not allowed within Window Cliffs State Natural Area for safety reasons.
- No camping is allowed, however, cabins and camping are offered at Standing Stone State Park, Rock Island State Park, and Edgar Evins State Parks. Nearby Cookeville offers a variety of lodging options.
- DOWNLOAD WINDOW CLIFFS MAP
For more information about Window Cliffs State Natural Area, click here.
Park Trail Maps
Looking for a trail map? Click the link below to see a list of the maps available at this park. The page includes all the trail maps we have available, organized by park. We have free and paid options that provide you the details you need to have your next great adventure in Tennessee.
8:00 AM to 5:00 PM - Winter
For the most up-to-date hours and information, please contact Burgess Falls State Park directly.