Hike to the stunning cascades of Foster Falls in South Cumberland State Park near Chattanooga, exploring the dramatic, 80-foot plunge of this enormous waterfall.

georgia hiking trails: 0-2 miles .6 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: easyeasy to
moderate
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
friendly
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails in Georgia for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:near Chattanooga, TN

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Nikon D750 Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Atlanta Trails shirts and mountain logo hats

OFFICIAL MAP: Fiery Gizzard Trail Map

Spilling in an ultra-scenic, single-drop cascade over a towering, curved cliff, Foster Falls is quite simply one of the most impressive waterfalls in the entire Southeast. Its 80-foot direct plunge down into the turquoise pool below is iconic for the region and the geology of the Cumberland Plateau, which begins Alabama, carves through northwest Georgia near Cloudland Canyon State Park, and continues into Kentucky.

Foster Falls

Just 30 minutes from downtown Chattanooga, the Foster Falls area has long been famous with the local rock climbing community, but also boasts some great hiking trails, too. This hike follows a short boardwalk to a viewing platform, catching distant views of the falls from above. The hike drops into the valley, crossing a swaying span bridge to catching an up-close view of the waterfall and its azure pool below. At under a mile, round trip, it’s a beginner-friendly hike with an enormous reward, and the opportunity to capture some incredible photos throughout the adventure.

Hike to the stunning cascades of Foster Falls in South Cumberland State Park near Chattanooga, exploring the dramatic, 80-foot plunge of this enormous waterfall. #hiking #waterfalls #chattanooga #tennessee #travel #outdoors #adventure

Foster Falls: the hike

The adventure begins at the Foster Falls parking area in South Cumberland State Park (view maps and driving directions). Restrooms, a pavilion, and a campground lie next to the trailhead, making this a very accessible adventure for those wanting to extend their stay beyond the short hike. A short boardwalk leads the trail through a narrow section of hardwood forest, and into a clearing. In the clearing, a sign indicates that the Fiery Gizzard Trail veers to the right, over and around the waterfall, and the Foster Falls Trail veers to the left.

Following the directions to the falls, the hike reaches a large observation platform that offers an initial glimpse of the roaring waterfall. During summer months, thick vegetation can somewhat limit the view of the falls from the platform, but the view still offers an idea of the incredible sights still waiting to be discovered.

Foster Falls

The trail descends a series of wooden and rudimentary rock stairs, dropping over 100 feet into the valley. Fiery Gizzard Creek and its enormous suspension bridge soon become visible.

The suspension bridge is a fun element of this hike, bouncing with every step as hikers cross. From the bridge, views of the beautiful cascades of Foster Falls emerge about 75 yards away, and a clearing on the bridge’s opposite side provides a spectacular view of the waterfall. In the warm summer months, this often becomes a popular spot for cooling off in the chilly turquoise water.

Swing bridge near the base of Foster Falls

Many climbers use this route to access the climbing walls of the Climber’s Loop, which offers some of the best routes in the region. After exploring the area near the base of the falls, watching the climbers in action makes this hike one of the most exciting in the area. Departing the waterfall, this hike backtracks along its original route, making a relatively easy climb to the trailhead and completing the adventure at just over a half mile.

More incredibly scenic hikes near Chattanooga

In the area and up for another adventure? Visit the tumbling cascades of Greeter Falls on a beautiful hike in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area. Hike to incredible, sweeping vistas on the Cumberland Trail at Signal Mountain, or catch stunning views from Lookout Mountain on the opposite side of the Tennessee River at Sunset Rock. Follow the Fiery Gizzard Trail though a waterfall-filled forest, scrambling over enormous rocky boulders and climbing to stunning views at Raven Point. Or check out the full list of our favorite hikes near Chattanooga for even more adventure inspiration.

Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.


Foster Falls Trail Map, Directions & Details

Foster Falls Trail Map
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

Driving Directions



Parking

Free parking is available at the trailhead.


GPS Coordinates

35.182200, -85.673967     //     N35 10.932 W85 40.438

Elevation Profile

Foster Falls Trail Elevation Profile
 
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Christian Murillo
Author

Christian Murillo is a professional Adventure and Natural Landscape Photographer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. His passion is getting outdoors as much as possible and inspiring others to do the same. His photography serves a purpose to not only show the natural beauty of the American Southeast, but also to motivate people to protect our natural spaces for generations to come. You can check out more of his work in Instagram @cmurillophoto and on his website, murillophoto.com.