Window Cliffs

Baxter, Tennessee

 

275-acre state natural area

managed by Burgess Falls State Park

8400 Old Cane Creek Rd,
Baxter, TN 38544
Window Cliffs is a 275-acre state natural area that opened for public access in April 2017 that is managed by Burgess Falls State Park.

This is a 5.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail that features a waterfall and very steep, very high bluffs. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round. It’s easy to spend the day here!

Visitors should note: Window Cliffs is managed by Burgess Falls State Park, but the entrance to Window Cliffs is located eight miles away from the entrance to Burgess Falls. These are two separate locations that are not connected by any trails.

This is a beautiful place to see with a varied Tennessee landscape. When entering the park, you will see a large, open farm with sky high silos. From this point, you can see distant Tennessee hills. A large parking area is available. Your first path will be a gravel drive that leads you to the winding, wooded path.

Upon entering the wooded area, you will see the narrow path weaving it’s away around and down the ridge. Be sure to take your camera! There are several scenic spots.

Hiking footwear is appropriate. You will cross multiple creeks so I hope you don’t mind getting wet!

It’s no surprise waterfalls in this region have attracted thousands of visitors. Window Cliffs is no different and has been attracting guests far and wide for hundreds of years. First sketched by French naturalist Charles LeSeuere in 1831, these rock windows eroded from the limestone cliffs are impressive to behold. It’s easy to see how this place got its name. LeSeuere was a French Naturalist who traveled throughout the U.S. in the 1830s sketching natural features. 

Their meandering arrangement and jagged, rocky outcrops provide habitat for rare & uncommon plants like plains muhly and northern white cedar. With on two known locations in Tennessee, muhly is the rarest plant at Window Cliffs.

Below the Window Cliffs, about 2.4 stream miles of Cane Creek create small cascades, steep slopes and narrow ledges and a 20’ waterfall. While the lake is a great place to be, these winding creeks are worth seeing.

Fossilized shells and skeletons of marine creatures living in the shallow sea that once covered most of Tennessee comprise the limestone that makes up the Window Cliffs. Over a long period of time, forces of wind and water have eroded the limestone faces of the cliffs and ridges to create the openings and natural bridges that make up the Windows. 

The thin ridges and deep gorges around the Window Cliffs divide the landscape and provide habitats for plants. The limestone that makes up most of the surrounding bedrock is very fragile. As water flows out of the Cumberland Plateau and into the Highland Rim, it passes through the stone creating fissures and cliffs that make this portion fascinating. With these natural processes, visitors enjoy varied scenery of waterfalls and gorges. 

While this place is beautiful, the same geologic processes that created it will eventually destroy it. Erosion and natural phenomenon slowly chew away at the soft limestone.

Due to the easily erodible limestone, the Window Cliffs are very fragile. As you visit, ensure this natural treasure survives for future visitors by no climbing or picking up formations. Keep in mind you safety as you explore the area, and be aware of cliffs and sharp drops. 

This is a very high bluff. You need to be extremely careful when viewing from the top. 

Parking: Yes / Trail: Yes / Dogs on Leash: No / Hunting: No / Fishing: Yes / Camping: No

A few tips if you are visiting:

There are a few creek crossings. Bring water shoes or plan on getting your feet wet! It’s really not that bad! 

It’s helpful to have a walking stick – you will be going up some steep areas!

Creeks, waterfalls and super high bluffs. It’s worth the hike all the way to the bluffs!

It helps to view the map at the entrance on the large board. You will see the lay of the park. When you get to the creek at the bottom, continue straight. This will lead you to the waterfall as well as the bluffs.

This is close to Burgess Falls, but the two are not connected. This is also close to Cookeville Boat Dock.

It’s easy to spend the day here! It’s a little over 5 mile hike with plenty of places to sit and take a break!

It’s an odd entrance with large silos and barns – you may feel like you are on private property. Drive until you see the large sign and parking lot!

This place is breathtaking. Visit anytime, but may we suggest fall when the leaves change! It’s a panoramic view! These photos were taken October 21, 2020. The leaves tend mid-October through early November. Anytime during those weeks are ideal!

You will see the bluffs from a small lookout point. Keep hiking to reach the top!