Postcards & Passports

Four Waterfalls Near Manchester, TN You Have to See

This post was most recently updated on March 19th, 2024

Tennessee is very picturesque, with forests, lakes, winding rivers, country roads, gentle rolling hills, and lots of red barns. It is also known for its waterfalls — over 325 of them! While visiting family, I was thrilled to hike to some of the prettiest waterfalls near Manchester — just an hour south of Nashville.

1. Old Stone Fort State Archaelogical Park

Little Falls, Manchester, TN

These were the first waterfalls I visited in Tennessee, because they’re just a mile or so from my son’s home in Manchester. Old Stone Fort State Archaelogical Park includes ruins of an ancient stone fort, a campground and playground, hiking trails, and two arms of the Little Duck River. On one arm you’ll find the Big Falls, and on the other, Little Falls.

I prefer Little Falls, because there are actually several small waterfalls as the river gradually descends over shale stone ledges. The river is shallow here, and you can easily walk through much of it. My grandchildren were splashing in the shallow water and even hiding under the rock ledges, behind the water falls. They had a blast!

There’s no charge to enter Old Stone Fort State Archaelogical Park, and there’s plenty of parking. Hours are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. It’s beautiful any time of the year, but especially in the summer because of all the shade, and in the fall when you’ll see fall foliage.

2. Rutledge Falls

Tullahoma, TN

To see Rutledge Falls, you get a package deal, because there’s a traditional red barn there, too. In fact, I learned about Rutledge Falls when I saw a beautiful photo card for sale in Manchester’s Foothill Crafts. The salesclerk told me how to find the red barn for photographing and then shared the secret, “There’s a waterfall there, too — be sure to check it out!”

And sure enough, there is! It’s a very short walk through privately owned land (but access to the falls is allowed).  Parking is available across from Rutledge Falls Baptist Church. Amongst the trees as you make your way down to the waterfall, you may also spot the sculpture of a woman called “The Lady of the Fall.” Interestingly, this statue was originally a decoration on the state Capitol Building in 1859.

3. Laurel Falls, South Cumberland State Park

Great Stone Door, Beersheba Springs, TN

This is a park worth visiting for many more reasons than viewing Laurel Falls. But finding Laurel Falls was a treat, especially with fall foliage surrounding it. So don’t miss it! There’s an easy short loop trail beginning at the Ranger Station. You can access both the top and the bottom of the falls from this trail.

Then you can easily move on to see the Great Stone Door (a large gap with stone steps between towering stone walls) and some of the most incredible views overlooking Savage Gulf.

There are two good-sized parking lots near the Rangers Station, as well as restrooms and area information. No charge to park here.

4. Machine Falls

Short Springs Natural Area, Tullahoma, TN

I think this is my favorite waterfall of the list. First of all it’s in a beautiful hiking area — easy trails with beautiful foliage alongside pretty little Bobo Creek. Secondly, Machine Falls is quite impressive, as it is about three stories high and just as wide. It fills a curved arena-type bowl, with trees gently leaning over it. And lastly, there are even some instagram-worthy bridges spanning the creek.

You’ll find Machine Falls in the Short Springs Natural Area, as well as Adams and Busby Falls. If you hike the entire loop, it is about 5 miles. The trail is mostly level, but there are some up and downhill portions to it. The main trail takes you to the bottom of the falls, but you can also access a trail overlooking the falls — just be careful because there are no fences or barriers.

Parking is free at the trailhead parking lot, across Short Springs Road from the trail. Hours are 8:00 am to 9:45 pm. Bonus: Short Springs Natural Area is quite close to Rutledge Falls as well.

Trip map created with Wanderlog, an itinerary planner on iOS and Android

Visiting the Waterfalls Near Manchester

In case you’re not in the habit of “chasing waterfalls”, here are some tips for you:

  • Wear good hiking shoes with closed toes. Trails can be slick with moisture.
  • Even better are good waterproof sandals for warmer months, so you can walk in the water and explore more.
  • During the summer, especially, remember to use bug repellent.
  • Bring plenty of water to drink while hiking; do NOT drink the water in the streams.
  • Plan to pack out what you bring as there are not always garbage receptacles. You won’t want to ruin the beautiful scenery here!
  • Bring a camera, too — these waterfalls are so photogenic!

I hope you enjoy discovering these waterfalls near Manchester, TN. I need to thank my son and his family for satisfying my waterfall “itch” and leading my husband and I on the most fun hikes!

waterfalls near Manchester TN

waterfalls near Manchester TN


20 thoughts on “Four Waterfalls Near Manchester, TN You Have to See

  1. Linda (LD Holland)

    We will always travel for waterfalls. Looks like a great selection for day trips about Manchester. I love the different waterfalls views. I can see why Machine Falls might be a favourite with its wide veil of water flowing. Definitely something I would do if I visit that area.

  2. Jamie

    These Waterfalls are absolutely something I’d love to visit in the warm summer months! I would have enjoyed splashing through the ones at Old Stone Fort like your grandchild. But for pure beauty I really appreciated the feel of the Machine Falls.

  3. Renee

    How do you ever choose? Machine waterfalls would be my favourite too. I can image how pretty these spots are in all seasons. If I’m ever in this area, I now know that I would seek these out.

  4. Lisa

    I agree with you that Machine falls is my favourite too. The scenery is so pretty and I would spend some time here photographing them. I’ve never heard of Manchester, so it’s great to read about these natural wonders!

  5. Puloma.B

    These waterfalls in Manchester, Tennessee are so beautiful! I have a thing for waterfalls with their tinkling sound surrounded by the greenery that is relaxing to the core. Each one if these waterfalls are beautiful in their own way!

  6. Puloma.B

    These waterfalls in Manchester, Tennessee are so calming and beautiful in their own way. I have a thing for waterfalls, their tinkling sound surrounded by the greenery is relaxing to the core.

  7. SherianneKay

    I have a Tennessee road trip planned and one of the days is waterfall hoping between Nashville and Chattanooga. I had quite a few stops already but now added Laurel Falls and Machine Falls. Thank for the additions, I’m going to have to get a very early start that day!

  8. Parnashree Devi

    Tennessee flaunts such beautiful waterfalls. I love spending time around the waterfalls. It gives you such calming aura and the sound of water is quite therapeutic . Loved the photos of each waterfall and the tips are quite handy.

  9. Subhashish Roy

    Just visited a waterfall last month in India and it was so refreshing being there. Therefore these four waterfalls would also be great to visit. Our next trip to UK would be going out of London and Manchester would be nice to visit. Thanks for all the detailed information. Would be useful.

  10. Natascha

    These waterfalls in Tennessee look wonderful and refreshing! Although I am not really a waterfall lover I would like to visit Machine Falls – it is easily the most impressive one. At least judging from your pictures!

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