Virgin Falls State Natural Area
Address: 2080 Scotts Gulf Road, Sparta, Tennessee
Coordinates: 35.85407, -85.28220
A strenuous roughly 9 mile hiking trail with multiple waterfalls, caves and lookout points.
Things to Know:
- Plan and pack accordingly. This is a long and strenuous hike so start early and pack plenty of food and water. Give yourself at least 4 hours to complete this trail.
- There is signage, a gravel parking lot, and a staff station at the entrance.
- Welch’s Point is also in this area. It is worth seeing too!
- From May – August, the caves are closed to help bat populations recover from the white nose syndrome.
- The trail is open year-round. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.
- There are camp sites at Cable Crossing, Martha’s Pretty Point, Virgin Falls, and Caney Fork if you’d like to make this into an overnight adventure.
In addition to Virgin Falls, there are many other waterfalls and caves within this area including Big Laurel Falls, Sheep Cave Falls, and Big Branch Falls. At times, the water level may be down and no water present at the smaller falls.
Virgin Falls Waterfall
Virgin Falls is a 110 ft high cliff waterfall that emerges out of a cave and then disappears into another cave below. This is where the trail ends. View straight on or take the short trail to the top of the waterfall.
Cool air (55 degrees) emerges from this cave so it’s a great spot to take a seat and take a rest. Cool down with cold water and enjoy the view!
Martha’s Pretty Point
There is a scenic lookout point within the Virgin Falls State Nautral Area – Martha’s Pretty Point. This place looks very similar to Welch’s Point (which is also within the Virgin Falls State Natural Area). At the start of the main trail, you can take a right and get to this point. Don’t worry – there is signage directing you throughout. It does loop back into the main trail so consider it a pit stop.
This is another place you will come across on your way to Virgin Falls. No lie – this is the clearest and bluest water you will see in the region. Not a large area but stunning. This crystal clear, roughly 10 foot deep pool is within the creek and formed by a few cascades that roll through massive boulders.
Big Laurel Falls
You will reach this waterfall before getting to Virgin Falls. It’s a cool spot that you will hear before you actually see it. Venture down from the trail to this waterfall. Enjoy the cool air coming from the water and shallow dome-like cave created by the waterfall.
Note: During our trip, the water was down so this waterfall may have more or less water when you make the journey.
- Big Branch Falls: 35.85049, -85.2998
- Cable Crossing Campsite: 35.84998, -85.30172
- Campsites 1 – 3: 35.84949, -85.30163
- Blue Hole: 35.84836, -85.3022
- Big Laurel Falls: 35.8435, -85.30927
- Sheep Cave: 35.84212, -85.3249
- Virgin Falls: 35.8385837, -85.3300688
Expect to see massive boulders scattered throughout the area.