Kayaking by Nathan Yarborough

Tourism And Partnership

Plan your visit by location.


Special Places – The Cherokee National Forest boasts a diverse array of 15 distinct recreational zones, each offering its own remarkable experiences that are as captivating as the distinctive mountains and waterways that characterize them. Within the forest, you will encounter extraordinary locations such as the Ocoee River, Coker Creek area, Iron Mountains, and Roan Highlands, just to name a few. These remarkable destinations showcase the natural and cultural wonders and recreational possibilities that await visitors.

To delve deeper into the unique opportunities and discover the hidden gems within each recreation zone, follow the link below to embark on a journey of discovery, unveiling the wonders and exceptional experiences that await you.

Cherokee National Forest – Special Places (usda.gov)


Plan your visit by activity.


Recreational Opportunities – If you find joy in the great outdoors, the Cherokee National Forest welcomes you with a myriad of recreational possibilities to suit your interests. Whether your passion lies in hunting, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, camping, bicycling, scenic drives, nature viewing, picnicking, OHV riding, water activities, or any other pursuit, you can plan your visit to cater specifically to you interests.

Use the following link to tailor your experience to your preferred activities – Cherokee National Forest – Recreation (usda.gov) . Here, you will find a wealth of information, resources, and guidance to help you plan your perfect adventure.



The mere mention of the word waterfall evokes a sense of beauty and power. Within the boundaries of the Cherokee National Forest, numerous waterfalls await discovery, prompting curious visitors to inquire about their locations. Describing the precise whereabouts of these cascades can be challenging, but we offer general directions to assist you on your journey. Consider acquiring a topographic or other map, which can be purchased at your nearest Forest Service office, to enhance your exploration.  Please bear in mind that the volume of water cascading down mountain streams is contingent upon rainfall, resulting in variations that fluctuate from season to season and year to year.

While the allure of waterfalls and cascades is undeniable, it is crucial to prioritize your safety during your visit. Wet, moss-covered rocks pose a perpetual hazard, regardless of the time of year. Moreover, the forceful flow of water can easily be underestimated. Common sense should prevail at all times. Refrain from swimming, wading or other activities in the water above the waterfall. Instead, marvel at the falls from the bottom or side avoiding any attempts to peer over the precipice. Keep a watchful eye on children, ensuring they are under supervision, and kindly keep your pets leashed. Lastly, remain on the well-defined trails provided, respecting the harmony of the environment, and safeguarding your own well-being.

Waterfalls found on the North End of the Forest

Backbone Falls: (Iron Mountain Zone – Johnson County) Take TN 133 near Damascus, VA to Backbone Rock Recreation Area.  Use Backbone Falls Trail #198, a 0.4-mile loop that includes several long flights of steps with steep drop-offs.  This is a 45-foot cascade.

Gentry Creek Falls: (Iron Mountain Zone – Johnson County) Take TN 91 to Laurel Bloomery; turn east on Gentry Creek Road; follow Forest Road 123 to Gentry Creek Trail #51.  Hike 2.3 miles along an abandoned railroad grade with several creek crossings.  This is a two-tiered, 80-foot fall.

Blue Hole Falls: (Holston Mountain Zone – Carter County) Take TN 91 to Forest Road 56.  Hike a short, steep 0.1-mile trail with steep stairs.  This is a two-tiered, 70-foot fall.

Coon Den Falls: (Watauga Lake Zone – Carter County) Take County Road 50 to Coon Den Falls Trail #37. Begin a 0.5-mile steep, rocky hike.  This is a 15-foot cascade.

Sill Branch Falls: (Bald Mountain Zone – Washington County) Take TN 107 to Clark Creek Road (Forest Road 25) to Sill Branch Falls Trail #115. The 0.5-mile trail ends at this 20-foot fall.

Pete’s Branch Falls: (Bald Mountain Zone – Greene County) Take Forest Road 94 in Horse Creek Recreation Area to Forest Road 94B to Pete’s Branch Trail #12.  Walk 1.2 miles (or drive in 4WD, high-clearance vehicle) along forest roads, then 0.6-miles on Pete’s Branch Trail. This hike requires four creek crossings. This 45-fool fall is best viewed during wet seasons.

Margarette Falls: (Bald Mountain Zone – Greene County) Take Shelton Mission Road to trailhead on Forest Road 5099.  Go 0.5-miles along a closed road, then 0.7 miles on Margarette Falls Trail #189. This is a rough, boulder-filled trail with several stream crossings.  This is a 50-foot fall.

Kelley, Dudley, and Ricker Falls: (French Broad River Zone – Greene County) View from Forest Road 41 along Paint Creek.  These are each 15-foot cascades.

Wolf Creek Falls: (French Broad River Zone – Cocke County) Take County Road 107 to Forest Road 96 to Forest Road 96D.  Hike 0.5 miles along an old roadbed.  This is a 25-foot fall.


Waterfalls found on the South End of the Forest

Bald River Falls: (Tellico River Zone – Monroe County) View from Tellico River Road (Forest Road #210) off the Cherohala Skyway.  This 90-foot cascade is a very popular destination as it doesn’t require any hiking.

Coker Creek Falls: (Coker Creek Zone – Monroe County) Take TN 68 to County Road 628, to County Road #2, to Forest Road 2138, to Coker Creek Falls Trail #183. Within 0.2 miles you will view two cascades, both spanning the breadth of the Creek. The first 8 feet high and the next 20 feet high. A longer hike offers views of additional cascades, rapids, and clear pools.

Turtletown Falls: (Hiwassee River Zone – Polk County) Take TN 68 to County Road 2317 to Turtletown Falls Trail #185.  The 3.8-mile trail overlooks two major waterfalls and the Hiwassee River.  This is an approximately 30-foot cascade.

Benton Falls: (Ocoee River Zone – Polk County) Take Forest Road 77 to Chilhowee Recreation Area. Hiking an easy 1.5 miles on Benton Falls Trail #131 through a series of steps that lead to the base of the 65-foot cascade.

Tourism & Partner Information

Here are a few links to help you to plan your visit or learn more about our partner organizations. Simply click on the links that interest you to be redirected to their website.

Here you will find links to supporting websites.

Official Sites of the US Forest Service


Tourism Information – North-end of the Forest

Johnson County

Sullivan County

Carter County

Washington County

Unicoi County

Greene County

Cocke County

Tourism Information South-end of the Forest

Monroe County

McMinn County

Polk County

Bradley County

These links are provided for the convenience of visitors to our website and do not constitute endorsement by the USDA Forest Service or Friends of the Cherokee National Forest.

Nathan Yarborough trail sign
Brandon Johnson twisting road