Best Creeks, Rivers and Waterfalls for Fun in Middle TN
It’s HOT in TN & usually stays that way until, well who knows, our weather is quite unpredictable #truestory SO, I thought I would share some of our favorite places in nature to cool off!
Our Top 3 spots (read details in order of the list!):
- Rutledge Falls
- Garrison Creek
- Deerwood Arboretum
Rutledge Falls is spectacular! I’m listing it first because c’mon, who doesn’t enjoy visiting a waterfall? This one doesn’t disappoint and because it’s spring fed, it doesn’t rely on rainfall to keep it going (we’ve been to several waterfalls that were barely falling due to lack of rain and it is quite the bummer).
It’s about an hour drive from Nashville; once you park (by the Rutledge Falls church), it’s a very easy 10 min walk to the falls (Details: If using GPS the address is 1400 Rutledge Falls Road, Tullahoma, TN 37388 (3) Park along the fence on Rutledge Falls Road opposite the Rutledge Falls Baptist Church). About 1/2 of the hike is flat and the other 1/2 is very steep rocky. We read that before we went and made sure everything we took with us could fit in our backpacks. Other people brought chairs & coolers.
If you can go on a weekday or earlier (before noon) on the weekends, that is what I would recommend – makes parking easier and also, minimizes the amount of people you have to share the falls with 😉 We arrived @11 on Sunday and by 2pm when we left, it was packed!
Don’t stay just at the main falls – make sure you explroe! There are 2 smaller falls above the big fall – hike to the right when you first see the falls (instead of the left) and the path will take you to both places.
Warning – the water is spring fed so IT IS COLD but refreshing! There is a large pool at the bottom of the falls, so you can swim and not just splash.
Garrison Creek – I love creeks that have plenty of parking and easy access to the water. Garrison Creek is off of the Natchez Trace, but not too far 😉 it’s a lovely drive to get there! Once you see the sign, turn in and follow the road down to the bottom parking lot, you’ll see Garrison Creek. It’s a lovely spot, has picnic benches and even some of those camp-style charcoal grills. Bring some chairs (like this boujee one from Walmart that I LOVE!)…our boys took their fishing poles (no hooks!) and had a blast. You can do a river hike here too and enjoy the scenery! There are some deep parts so your kids could swim, but it’s mostly knee-height or lower.
There is also a nice hiking trail (by the restroom facilities) when you first turn in. My kiddos don’t like to hike so we didn’t go BUT I know friends with littles who have gone and it is a nice easy hike with a beautiful view! You can read more here at the Natchez Trace website.
This place is also near Jackson Falls – you could stop here too! The hike to the falls is short and has a paved trail but it is very steep and can be slippery. Our kiddos didn’t enjoy the hike LOL but we make it work!
Deerwood Arboretum – anytime I share about this place, No One, I repeat No One has heard of it. Even Brentwood locals don’t have a clue – which makes it my favorite spot to visit (even over Radnor!)! There’s always plenty of parking, the Little Harpeth Runs by it and the trail is smooth/paved/ mostly shaded which makes it wonderful for a visit with kiddos and also, for catching up with a friend. It is still a very scenic area and it’s very interesting to read about all of the varieties of trees.
BUT! Back to the water … it runs alongside the Little Harpeth River. Once you park, if you walk straight ahead (pavilion will be on your right), you’ll get to the path & the river is right alongside it. There are several access points. Bring towels / a chair/ snacks and your kiddos can splash around and explore. It doesn’t get deep; I’d definitely call this a river for splashing! They do have bathroom facilities at the pavillion and they are usually open but bring some wipes / hand sanitizer just in case nature calls & they’re closed (which may have happened to us a time or two before 😉