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I like Going Outdoors: Day trip hikes in Southeastern Tennessee

Updated on November 19, 2015
Turtletown Falls, taken with an iPhone 6 plus.
Turtletown Falls, taken with an iPhone 6 plus.

Turtletown Falls Trail

I enjoy hiking when I am off of work, and I take my kids sometimes with me to get outdoors. I moved from Florida to Southeastern Tennessee because of a job transfer. I was not much of a beach person, but hiking is amazing. These blogs will look at hikes I have done and what to expect on these hikes. These are day hikes, so no tents needed. Also, I use this website to assist in locating and evaluating the hike before I go (we like to see waterfalls). With kids six and younger, it is good to get an idea of the hike before you set out (

The first hike I would like to explore is Turtetown Falls. The hike and falls are located in Polk County, Tennessee, close to the North Carolina border. There is two waterfalls on one trail, the shortest hike is the one I am discussing in this piece. Turtletown falls is 25 foot waterfall and part of Turtletown creek. The creek water is cold year round and clear, a good combination. The creek dumps into the Hiwassee River.

How do you get there? I will give basic information, but there are places to get exact directions on the web or in books. Take exit 20 on I-75 in Tennessee and follow the signs to Murphy, NC and U.S. 64 East. When you come to Ducktown follow signs for SR 68 north. Follow 68 till you see Turtletown post officeon the right and a church to the left. Take a left on Farner Road. You will be on this road for at least eight miles. The next step is tough to spot, but not impossible. Look for a shaded dirt road on your left. You know it is a dirt road because it has a stop sign. That road leads to the parking area for the hike. The dirt road is 2 miles to the parking area, which is a rounded. It is not paved, except for the part you drive through a small creek to get to the place to park. With that said, if there has been much rain, you may need to wait to go on this hike.

When you come into the parking area, look to the right and notice the trailhead. Now, if you look left there is a small trail that leads to Turtletown creek and in the distance you notice a small cascade. Now the hike starts with you going uphill. There are muddy patches throughout the first part of the trail. I need to help my boys across these muddy parts so they will not get super muddy, but not too hard to do. Water drains from the hill above to the creek below. There is even a small wooden bridge to avoid a small stream of water. About 0.4 miles into the hike there is a small path to the left and the large trail goes uphill. The small path leads to Turtletown Falls, but the uphill path leads to lower Turtletown falls and a longer hike. Take the small path. The path does get narrow and will stay narrow till the waterfall. About 1 mile into the hike you notice a rocky area that is a wet weather stream. Hop the rocks and proceed forth. I need to help my boys here because these rocks can be slippery. The small trail has no shoulder so watch the kids so they do not slip down the embankment. Still, my three year old son can hike this area with little to no help, just be observant. Then about 1.3 miles or so, you make it to some stairs, proceed down, this area can also be slippery. After the stairs, take a left. When you get past the stairs you will notice many rhododendron bushes that cover the trail. This area should be amazing in the spring when the rhododendron bushes bloom. Proceed past the bushes to the clearing and you will notice the waterfall in front of you. Please note, the rocks in and around the waterfall basin, even though they stick out of the water are quite slippery. Enjoy the waterfall. The rocks split the water so that the area looks like two waterfalls.

The round trip of the hike is 3 miles, so my youngest, who is three, can make the hike. He is picked up here and there, but walks it like a champion. Some bring their dogs on the hike, just make sure they are on a leash. Along the hike you see millipedes, harvestmen, spiders, caterpillars, moths, and butterflies. The trip is great for kids to explore the many small creatures in our area. I have not seen any bears or deer on this hike. This creek is also amazing in the fact it does have some sandy beach areas. Most hikes around creeks in southeastern Tennessee have rocky beds and rocky shores, but here there is some sandy areas near the water. There are some fallen trees that bridge over the creek, but they too can be slippery or break when climbed on. Also, you will notice quartz along the trail. Quartz is a sign of copper deposits and this area in the past was known for copper mining.

After the hike, and if it is lunchtime, I like to take the boys to one of my favorite restaurants in this area, The 68 Diner. The diner has cheap prices and serves Southern comfort food. Not big for BBQ, but chicken fried steak, fried okra, and fried chicken are on the menu. The place is an old house converted to a diner, and the staff are friendly and the food is good. Keep in mind if you do go, reserve some time, this is not fast food. Still, one of my favorite places to eat in this area. It is off of SR 68 and look for the yellow sign coming back from the hike. This hike is one of my favorites in southeastern Tennessee.


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