When: A weekend in September
Where: Fall Creek Falls State Park in TN
Weather: In the 80’s
Wear: The kids wore their bathing suites with clothing over them in case they wanted to get near the falls. I wore my work out gear (tank top and athletic pants).
Ages: The kids were 5 years old and 18 months old. It is definitely a good workout hiking with a toddler!
One uneventful weekend we decided to get moving and take a day trip with the kids to Fall Creek Falls State Park, which was about an hour and fifteen minute drive north of Chattanooga. We packed a lunch, some snacks, our camera and a first aid kit and hit the road.
This park offers a plethora of things to do – hiking, swimming, fishing, horseback riding,boating, golfing, playgrounds – and even has a hotel and restaurant on property in additional to the many campsites for overnight accommodations. But, we were only there for the day, so we went straight to hiking. (park map)
We parked at the Betty Dunn Nature Center, and while I went inside the small building to grab a trail map, the kids played on the playground that was right outside for a minutes (they couldn’t resist!). Before we started out on our long hike, we headed down the stairs that are right next to the Betty Dunn Nature Center for the Cane Creek Cascades. It was September so the water and falls were pretty dry, but it allowed us to walk around easily and get this amazing view at the end of the ravine. There is a swimming area at the base of the cascades, where people were lounging in their own tubes they brought. There wasn’t a lot about this swimming area online so I wasn’t aware and failed to bring Easton’s floaties or our swimsuits. It would have been nice to jump in so I definitely recommend bringing!
Once we finished playing in the Cascades, we headed back up the stairs and started out on the Woodland Trail, which was about a mile long. This trail was very easy to walk, the hardest part is just the few steps at the beginning. It is a dirt path, so the kids do need to be aware of the roots and rocks on the ground, as we did have to patch one scrapped knee (hence why we brought a first aid kit – even without the roots my kids are always falling). Our toddler walked about 20% of the trail and we carried him the rest. Our 5 year old did great handling the trail, other than the scrapped knee 🙂
At the end of the trail is Fall Creek Falls overlook, where is where the Falls Creek Falls Parking lot is on the map. Being dry the falls wasn’t very impressive (see comparison picture below), but it was still a beautiful view. We ate our lunch at one of the picnic tables off of the parking lot, and got back on the same Woodland Trail to head back to our car.
I highly recommend this state park for kids! Whether a day trip or a weekend, they will not be disappointed. Next time I would come and make a camping weekend out of it, so we could take advantage of more of the hiking, other activities and scenery of the natural settings.
What i would recommend packing for a day trip
- Bathing Suits
- Floaties for young kids
- Bug spray
- Water bottles
- Mini First Aid Kit
- Tubes or Floats if you plan on swimming for awhile