Eagle Falls is a light-flowing and short 44ft waterfall adding its output to the Cumberland River from its west bank just downstream of Cumberland Falls.
It’s certainly an easily overlooked waterfall thanks to its tendency to be a follow-up act to its larger neighbor. Thus, to appreciate this falls, one really has to be able to manage expectations and take it for what it is. After all, you can’t really compare the two falls so why bother with comparisons?
Nonetheless, what motivated us to hike Trail 9 (i.e. this trail to this waterfall) was the opportunity to get different views of Cumberland Falls that we couldn’t get from its more touristed east bank. As we did the trail, we also realized that it was meandering beneath overhanging rocks, hugging ledges, and affording us panoramic views of the scenery across the gorge
Perhaps that was why we saw a large sign at the trailhead proclaiming this trail to be voted the best trail in the state of Kentucky. We’re not so sure about that bold assertion, but we were certainly glad we did it.
The trail to the Eagle Falls and back was said to be 3 miles round trip (1.5 miles each way). It wasn’t the easiest trail because of its tendency to undulate in addition to being an upside down hike (i.e. going downhill to get to the falls then going back uphill to get back to the car park). And although there was also the option of extending this hike into a longer loop, but we didn’t do that option.
Most of the scenic overlooks revealing the gorge as well as the Cumberland Falls was past the loop trail connectors (always staying right to remain on the main waterfall trail). When we got to river level, at which point we were very close to the falls, it was said that during flood, this section of trail could be flooded. That probably explained why the trail degenerated into almost a boulder scramble with some boulders containing colored paint as trail indicators.
The overall time we took to do this hike plus take pictures was about 1 hour 20 minutes.
The Eagle Falls trailhead is just 0.3 miles west of the road bridge tranversing the Cumberland River right off the Hwy 90. This bridge is also almost adjacent to the far side of the Cumberland Falls car park. For directions on getting to Cumberland Falls car park, please see that page for directions.
There is more parking on the north side of the road (on the right when going west), though there was some very limited parking space across the road on the south side. Parking at the trailhead was very limited during our visit so we actually had to wait to do this hike until late afternoon when fewer people were on this trail.
If parking is difficult to find, I suppose it’s not unrealistic to walk the additional 1/2-mile from the Cumberland Falls car park to the Eagle Falls trailhead (tacking on an additional round-trip distance of one mile).
Finally, for a bit of context, Williamsburg (the nearest town where we stayed) was 70 miles (over an hour drive) north of Knoxville, Tennessee, 183 miles (3 hours drive) northwest of Asheville, North Carolina, and 103 miles (over 90 minutes drive) south of Lexington.
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