What to do in Burgess Falls State Natural Area

Burgess Falls State Natural Area, located in Middle Tennessee, lies on the eastern edge of Tennessee's Highland Rim adjacent to the Cumberland Plateau. This area is characterized by sheer bluffs, narrow ridges, rolling water, and abundant mixed forest. The Falling Water River runs through the area, providing breathtaking scenery and numerous waterfalls.

Burgess Falls Natural Area is a natural sanctuary. All areas, features, including plants and animals (living and dead), rocks, minerals, and artifacts are protected by state law. Fires are allowed only in grills. Trails are moderately rugged. Stay on the trails and watch your step.

Boats are not allowed below the dam and fishing boats are allowed only in the shallow lake above the dam. Due to heavy silting, this is not a desirable lake for boating. Trolling motors are the only type of motor allowed on boats.

Fishing is available on Burgess Falls Lake and also on the river below the dam. The tailwaters of Center Hill Lake reach the base of Burgess Falls and are noted for their excellent spring fishing.
Fishermen can expect catches of bream, bass and catfish.

During the summer season, a seasonal interpreter conducts the interpretive programming, including scheduled and impromptu programs. Throughout the year, the park manager does the
programming. The parks also conducts park programs to groups upon request within the community (primarily within 25 miles.)

Other points of interest are the Cookeville Depot Museum, downtown Cookeville and the Rock House Shrine.

Hiking, fishing, swimming, boating, playgrounds, volleyball and horseshoes are available at this park. Recreational bicycling of any type is not permitted in the park.

From Cookville travel I-40 and take Exit 286. Turn South off the 286 ramp onto State highway 135. Proceed on Hwy. 135 for 7 miles following the signs to the park.

Tennessee has a temperate climate with short, mild winters. The average annual snowfall for the state is 12 inches. Spring comes in early March bringing flowering trees and shrubs, and warmer weather. Spring temperatures average between 45 and 70 degrees. Summer's full force arrives in the region by mid May, bringing warm weather and higher humidity. The mountains of eastern Tennessee are a great place to escape the hot summer temperatures as the higher elevation cools the air slightly. Cool fall temperatures bring crisp air and brilliant fall colors. Mid to late October is a good time to visit the region to experience the fall foliage.

4000 Burgess Falls Drive
Sparta, TN 38583-8456

Phone: 931-432-5312

  • Burgess Falls State Natural Area Travel Q&A