Burgess Falls Waterfall

Center Hill Lake

Waypoint: 36.045510 / -85.599560

Maybe you have visited Burgess Falls State Park, but did you know you can access the last and largest waterfall by water?

That’s right! You can kayak or boat right to the bottom of the 135′ waterfall in Burgess Falls State Park.

Here are a few things to note about accessing Burgess Falls on Center Hill Lake.

Side note & completely random: we made this trip during the Saharan Dust in late June 2020. Notice the haze in the photos!

Water access is available – subject to water levels.

It should be noted – access isn’t always available. Naturally, water levels fluctuate with rainfall. The waterway may be very narrow and shallow at times so make sure you take note of the water level before heading to the waterfall!

You’ll be sharing the waterway with others.

So no wake! Boaters & jet ski riders should drive slowly and be aware of kayakers. It’s best to obey the basic travel path – stay to the right. Again, the waterway can become very narrow so be mindful of others enjoying this beautiful place too.

You’re entering a natural habitat.

You will want to take some snacks if you’re kayaking. Just make sure you take your trash when you leave! Also, watch for snakes! They usually won’t bother you, but you are in their space! Just make sure you keep your eyes open. There aren’t man-made paths and trails like the park above you, but there are places you can easily tie up to or sit a while. And the view – amazing!

It’s stunning & totally Instagram worthy.

You will definitely want to take your camera or phone! Just make sure you bring a plastic sandwich bag or something to prevent your devices from getting wet! Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram! We would love to hear about your trip and share your pictures.

You need the right shoes.

With the mist coming from the waterfall, the rocks are extremely slick. You will also be walking over huge rocks and loose pebbles. Forget the flip flops! You will definitely want some shoes that are meant for navigating the natural scape.


No climbing on the big rocks – it’s not smart!

Yes, you can totally climb onto the bottom of the falls, but please don’t try to climb on the  surrounding rocks on either side! It’s really slick. Stick to the center of the waterfall where you can sit and enjoy the cascading water around you. That’s the best spot anyway 🙂

There can be debris.

Jet skis and boaters be careful! Storms can cause branches and sticks to fall into the water. Nothing kills the vibe more than a messed up piece of equipment 🙁

There’s another waterfall nearby.

The more you find out about Center Hill Lake – it’s like the better it gets! There’s a ton of waterfalls you will want to see! Check out this list we compiled – 12 Waterfalls Around CHL.

There’s one close to Burgess Falls that is gorgeous – Fancher Falls! Also accessible by water.


fancher falls center hill lake tennessee waterfall
You can access the shoreline in different spots.

Obviously! You can drop your kayak in anywhere along the shoreline. We suggest Cookeville Boat Dock in Baxter or Cane Hollow Road in Sparta.

If you’re coming from Cookeville Boat Dock, head up the river. At the fork, Burgess Falls is to your left and Fancher Falls is to your right.

Service is spotty in these rural areas, but you can use GPS. For the Cane Hollow Road access point, use ‘Cane Hollow Road, Sparta, Tennessee’ for GPS. There are no signs, but once GPS says you have arrived, you will be at a fork in the road. You will see a turnaround area – turn right onto the one lane, semi-gravel road. It ends in the water, and there is a parking area (pictured). It can get crowded so on holidays or weekends, arrive early!

Have you been to Burgess Falls? We would love to hear about it! Comment below! 🙂

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