Bald River Falls

Cherokee National Forest / Tellico Plains, Tennessee, USA

About Bald River Falls

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2012-10-26
Date last visited: 2012-10-26

Waterfall Latitude: 35.32439
Waterfall Longitude: -84.17773

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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.

Bald_River_Falls_005_20121026 - Bald River Falls
Bald River Falls

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.

Bald_River_Falls_034_20121026 - Focused long exposure photo of the Bald River Falls
Focused long exposure photo of the Bald River Falls

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 the Bald River Falls was from the road bridge where we used the railing on the bridge to act as a tripod (I guess we were too lazy to bring out our tripod).

Bald_River_Falls_002_20121026 - Approaching the road bridge fronting the Bald River Falls
Approaching the road bridge fronting the Bald River Falls

In fact this bridge was loaded with people and passing car traffic so I really had no choice but to go slow when passing by so it was hard to miss this waterfall in the first place.

I also saw a couple of folks scramble down to the river for a quieter photography experience.

Furthermore, there was a trail climbing towards the top of the Bald River Falls and possibly continue further.

We only saw 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.


Bald River Falls resides in the Cherokee National Forest near Tellico Plains in Monroe County, Tennessee. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Bald_River_Falls_010_20121026 - Contextual view of Bald River Falls as seen from the bridge
Bald_River_Falls_015_20121026 - Contextual look at the Bald River Falls and some Autumn foliage to its right
Bald_River_Falls_033_20121026 - View of Bald River Falls from the far side of the bridge

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.

Bald_River_Falls_001_20121026 - Context of the parking situation at the Bald River Falls
Context of the parking situation at the Bald River Falls

By the way, 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. Had we driven south from Knoxville, it would have been at least a 90-minute drive to cover the 81 mile distance.

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Short bottom up sweep of the falls

Fixated on the falls

Right to left sweep ending with a zoom-in on the falls

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

Fixated on angled perspective of the falls

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Tagged with: cherokee, national forest, monroe county, tennessee, waterfall, chattanooga, knoxville, tellico, bald river, tellico plains

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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