Enjoy a short hike in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area to Greeter Falls, one of Tennessee’s most impressive waterfalls.
LOCATION:northwest of Chattanooga, TN
OFFICIAL MAP: Savage Gulf State Natural Area Map
Savage Gulf State Natural Area is a scenic 15,000+ acre area in South Cumberland State Park filled with many beautiful hardwood forests, tumbling creeks, sandstone cliffs, and some incredible waterfalls. The trail to Greeter Falls gives a perfect peek into a little bit of everything that this state park has to offer.
In just a short hike, this trail visits two stunning waterfalls, the charming 15-foot Upper Falls and the impressive 50-foot Lower Falls. It’s a great family-friendly hike, and one of our favorite adventures near Chattanooga.
Greeter Falls Trail: the hike
The hike begins at the Greeter Falls trailhead (view maps and driving directions) just 45 minutes northwest of Chattanooga. There’s almost always ample parking available, even on the most crowded summer days. A map of the park’s nearby trail system lies around 100 yards into the trail.
The hike starts mostly flat as it passes through a shaded forest filled with oak, hemlock, poplar, maple, and pine trees. Although this section is mostly flat, the surface is very uneven with many exposed roots and rocks. Large 40-foot sandstone cliffs rise on the trail’s left side, as a series of makeshift stairs begin to descend into the steep valley created by Firescald Creek.
The trail gets steeper as it turns down into the valley, and reaches a fork that leads to the upper falls to the right, and the lower falls to the left.
The hike visits the upper falls first, carefully scrambling down an eight-foot ledge to the base of the upper falls. The 15-foot waterfall is twice as wide as it is tall, resembling a beautiful table with water falling perfectly across its ledge. The pool here is between 1-3 feet deep, but swimming is very dangerous due to strong currents – and the presence of the lower falls just downstream.
The hike backtracks to the fork in the trail, and descends down to the lower waterfall. An often-slippery spiral staircase descends to a series of wooden and metal stairs. The trail opens to a fantastic vantage point of the 50-foot Lower Greeter Falls. At full flow, this is easily one of the most impressive waterfalls in the state. Some careful scrambling can reveal some beautiful angles of the waterfall and Firescald Creek.
After soaking up the beauty, the hike turns to retrace its steps to the trailhead. The steep climb up the valley walls can be tiring, but by .75 mile, the climb becomes more gradual. The hike reaches the trailhead and parking lot at 1 mile, finishing the adventure.
Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
Free parking is available in South Cumberland State Park.
35.438600, -85.697917 // N35 26.316 W85 41.875