Bald River Falls

Cherokee National Forest / Monroe County, Tennessee, USA

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 1
Bald River Falls
Bald River Falls was certainly one of the easiest waterfalls we've visited in the Southern Appalachians.

That was because it was visible right off a road bridge adjacent to a parking area. Perhaps the only real difficult part about this excursion was the long drive from Chattanooga (where we were staying at the time).

This cascading waterfall is said to have a cumulative drop of about 100ft. Without the proper trigonometric measuring equipment, it was hard to tell if that claim was accurate, but it was nonetheless impressive. Adding color to the scene was the presence of fallen leaves sticking to the flanking rocks thanks to the moisture from the cascade. There were also trees surrounding the area providing additional Autumn colors as well.

Given the lack of physical exertion required to view this waterfall, it was very popular during our visit. The interesting thing was that we were here rather late in the afternoon, and there were still lots of people! I can't imagine how much crazier it might have gotten here earlier in the day.

The most straightforward way to view this waterfall was from the road bridge where we used the railing on the bridge to act as a tripod (sure I guess we were too lazy to bring out the tripod). In fact this bridge was loaded with people and passing car traffic had no choice but to go slow when passing by. I also saw a couple of folks scramble down to the river for a quieter photography experience.

There was also a trail climbing towards the top of the cascade and possibly continuing further. We saw a few people go up there, but Julie and I decided not to join them so we can only speculate on the parts of that trail beyond what we could see from the bridge.

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Playing around with the composition of Bald River FallsPlaying around with the composition of Bald River Falls
We based ourselves in Chattanooga, Tennessee when we made the fairly long out-and-back drive to Bald River Falls. Chattanooga was in close proximity to Rock City and Ruby FallsWe based ourselves in Chattanooga, Tennessee when we made the fairly long out-and-back drive to Bald River Falls. Chattanooga was in close proximity to Rock City and Ruby Falls
The limited parking area by the bridgeThe limited parking area by the bridge

Approaching the bridgeApproaching the bridge

Contextual view of Bald River FallsContextual view of the falls

View from the near side of the bridgeView from the near side of the bridge

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Bottom up sweep starting with a photographer down below the bridge then ending with a zoom-in on the falls itself

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Bald River Falls is on the Tellico River and is east of the town of Tellico Plains. The town was said to be the base for the Babcock Lumber Company, and the narrow River Rd leading to the falls was said to be the same logging railroad and road that was used to log the forest here and supply the lumber. These days, this route seemed to be pretty popular with bikers in addition to conventional weekenders on conventional cars, RVs, or SUVs.

From Tellico Plains, drive 5.2 miles on Hwy 165. Take the turnoff on the right for River Rd and follow this road (which follows the Bald River the entire way) for another 6.8 miles to the elongated parking area just past the bridge where you can see the waterfall.

We actually drove to Tellico Plains from Chattanooga.

Just to give you an idea of how far of a drive it was for us, from the I-40/I-75 junction in Chattanooga, we drove northeast on the I-75 for about 19 miles. Then, we took the US64-Bypass for about 7 miles to the US64. Then, we continued east on the US64 for about 8 miles before going north on the US411. We continued for about 19 miles north on US411 then turned right onto Hwy 310. After about 6.3 miles, Hwy 310 became Hwy 30 (Mecca Pike) and we continued on the Mecca Pike for about another 8 miles to the Hwy 68 in the town of Tellico Plains. Turning right onto Hwy 68, we then went south for a half-mile to the Hwy 165-Bypass on the left.

It took us about 1 hour and 40 minutes to drive from Chattanooga to Bald River Falls.

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For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.

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