Foster Falls

South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee, USA

About Foster Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.8 mile round trip
Suggested Time: 45-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2012-10-27
Date last visited: 2012-10-27

Waterfall Latitude: 35.18209
Waterfall Longitude: -85.6761

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Foster Falls was the last waterfall we saw on our Appalachians 2012 trip, and it was a fine way to cap it off!

Even though the Foster Falls Wild Area is better known to climbers looking for a thrill and a challenge, we didn’t have to do any technical climbing to experience this pretty 60ft plunging falls.

Foster_Falls_042_20121027 - Foster Falls
Foster Falls

In fact, there was an overlook that was only a few paces from the parking lot (see directions below) where we were able to get the view you see pictured above.

There was a steep hiking path that went down a combination of stairs and uneven rock-protruding trail.

It led towards a swinging bridge at the mouth of the large plunge pool of the Foster Falls before end at the shore further around the plunge pool itself.

On the opposite end of this plunge pool was the waterfall.

Foster_Falls_023_20121027 - Full context of the amphitheater containing Foster Falls as seen from a lookout close by the parking lot
Full context of the amphitheater containing Foster Falls as seen from a lookout close by the parking lot

I noticed that there was the possibility of scrambling further to the left to get more angled views of the Foster Falls.

The only catch here was that there were fallen rocks reminding me of the everpresent danger of chunks of the cliff falling at any moment.

But the reward for this was a view of surprise second waterfall (though it wasn’t flowing too well during my visit) seen next to Foster Falls itself.

The skies were overcast and threatening rain during our visit, but it created great photo ops given the even lighting without the sun.

Foster_Falls_056_20121027 - The official trail took me this far along the plunge pool yielding an angled view of Foster Falls and a thin companion waterfall
The official trail took me this far along the plunge pool yielding an angled view of Foster Falls and a thin companion waterfall

We also heard a few loud booms, and we guessed there must be some hunting going on within earshot of this area.

It only took me an hour to fully experience Foster Falls.

This included the views from the overlook, the hike to the base, all the picture taking throughout the excursion, and the return hike to the car.

I’m aware that there were longer trails such as the Fiery Gizzard Trail that may include other ways of experiencing the Foster Falls.

However, I wouldn’t know sure since I only did the trail to the Foster Falls and back, which I figured provided the best bang for the bang (figuratively speaking as precious time would be the currency here).


Foster Falls resides in the Foster Falls Recreation Area (part of South Cumberland State Park) near Tracy City and Jasper in Marion County, Tennessee. It is administered by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Foster_Falls_003_20121027 - Picnic area by the Foster Falls parking lot
Foster_Falls_070_20121027 - The lookout platform providing a nice panoramic view of the Foster Falls
Foster_Falls_016_20121027 - View of Foster Falls from the lookout deck nearby the parking lot
Foster_Falls_018_20121027 - More zoomed in look at the Foster Falls from the initial lookout by the parking lot
Foster_Falls_020_20121027 - Contextual view of Foster Falls and its surrounding cliffs from the initial lookout by the parking lot
Foster_Falls_006_20121027 - Context of Julie checking out Foster Falls by the overlook near the parking lot
Foster_Falls_069_20121027 - Looking out towards a trail junction beneath this power pole on the way down to Foster Falls
Foster_Falls_005_20121027 - Sign telling us we had to keep going to get to the bottom of the Foster Falls
Foster_Falls_030_20121027 - The spur trail descending to the base of the falls
Foster_Falls_031_20121027 - First the Foster Falls went down stairs to get into the depths of its amphitheater
Foster_Falls_032_20121027 - Then the Foster Falls Trail went down uneven rocky trail. The fallen leaves actually conspired to twist an ankle as it concealed many rocks protruding from the trail
Foster_Falls_033_20121027 - Swinging bridge across Little Gizzard Creek that I had to cross to get closer to Foster Falls
Foster_Falls_035_20121027 - I wasn't alone when I made it down here to the base of Foster Falls and its wide plunge pool
Foster_Falls_047_20121027 - Looked like Foster Falls might be a good place for a swim under warmer conditions
Foster_Falls_059_20121027 - Angled view of Foster Falls with companion waterfall as seen from further along its wide plunge pool

The Foster Falls Wild Area is off the US41 between Tracy City and Jasper.

Since we came up from Chattanooga, we’ll describe the directions from there (though I’m sure there are many ways of getting here).

From the I-75/I-24 interchange in Chattanooga, we drove about 30 miles west on the I-24 past Nickajack Lake towards the Hwy 28 exit near Jasper.

We then drove north on Hwy 28 for 1.6 miles before turning left onto US41.

Foster_Falls_001_20121027 - The Foster Falls parking lot on a pretty cold morning
The Foster Falls parking lot on a pretty cold morning

Next, we followed the US41 west into the town of Jasper before signs told us where to continue on the US41 going north.

After about 9 miles or so on the US41, we saw the signposted turnoff for the Foster Falls Wild Area to our left.

The large parking lot was at the end of this spur road.

For additional context, Chattanooga, TN was 112 miles (under 2 hours drive) southwest from Knoxville, TN, 135 miles (about 2 hours drive) southeast from Nashville, TN, and 118 miles (2 hours drive) north from Atlanta.

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Fixated on the falls from the overlook

View from the overlook platform then zooming in on the falls, but there was a loud boom in the background (which we suspect might be from a hunting firearm).

Zoomed in on Foster Falls from its base before zooming out and panning right to left to show the plunge pool

Left to right sweep starting with the cliffs above an alcove on the left then ending with a zoom-in on the falls

Panning along the edge of the alcove above me before ending at an angled view of Foster Falls

Fixated on an angled view of Foster Falls along with a taller but thinner companion waterfall to its right

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Tagged with: south cumberland, state park, marion county, tennessee, chattanooga, waterfall, wild area, fiery gizzard

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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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