A cascading waterfall can be filed under the category of “never gets old” along with a vibrant sunset, the first winter snowfall, and the perfect cup of morning coffee. While we’re road-tripping through the South this summer, it’s nice to pepper in some nature along with our plans for dining, imbibing, and cultural outings. We’ve found five tucked-away waterfalls that are less than 60 miles from some of our favorite Southern cities.
West Meade Waterfall
10 miles west of downtown Nashville, TN
For the GPS: 402 Hathaway Ct, Nashville, TN 37205
This waterfall is close to the heart of Nashville both literally and figuratively. Still unknown to many locals and tucked away in a shady hollow in West Meade, this mighty little waterfall is oft-overlooked because of its popular counterparts that are more than 1.5 hours away from Nashville. Most impressive after a rainstorm or in the cooler months, the water trickle is soft in the dry summer but still a tranquil sight to behold.
The waterfall is situated between two houses at the end of a cul-de-sac, so don’t be alarmed when your phone leads you into a neighborhood! A steep trail to the right of the waterfall leads to a piece of the original wall that once surrounded the Belle Meade Farm. The land has lots of pretty flora and fauna, including wildflowers, slimy reptiles, and the occasional bobcat.
High Shoals Falls
60 miles from Charlotte, NC
For the GPS: 3001 S Mountain Park, Connelly Springs, NC 28612
The perfect easy day trip from Charlotte, this waterfall destination is a bit tough to get to but well worth it. This is the most popular hike at South Mountains State Park because of the idyllic winding creek, 80-foot waterfall, mountain vistas, and verdant woodland habitat. Opt for a weekday visit to this waterfall, as the crowds can get large on weekends!
To get to the stunning falls, there are two options: Hike one mile to the 60-foot waterfall and return (two miles total). Or hike the 2.7-mile loop, which includes a pretty steep section of stair climbing that meanders through multiple vantage points. This trek is fabulous any time of year, but can be particularly striking — you guessed it — after some good ol’ rain!
30 miles from Louisville, KY
For the GPS: Louisville Nashville Turnpike, West Point, KY 40177
Not particularly easy to get to or well-advertised, this 130-foot-tall, picturesque waterfall on the land of Fort Knox is a must for Louisville locals or adventurous visitors. Despite the 350-foot elevation gain, the 1.9-mile out-and-back trail is family-friendly and well worth it. On the trek to the falls, you’ll traverse some historic railroad tracks that were once part of the old Louisville to Nashville turnpike.
As you approach the falls, you will begin to see and hear the multiple drops that are just a short distance apart from one another. Be ready to stop for photos, a picnic, and a dip in the water. Tioga Creek’s water supply can get pretty thin in the summer, so a post-rain visit is best if you choose to go during the summer. This is certainly a one-of-a-kind Louisville gem.
22 miles from Birmingham, AL
For the GPS: 200 Terrace Drive, Pelham, AL 35124
While Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, AL, is already considered a treasure to many Alabamians, only the most astute explorer knows Peavine Falls. The 65-foot, spring-fed waterfall is a popular spot for hikers willing to scramble a bit down to the water. The park has a few trails that will lead you to the falls, but the Peavine Falls Trail is the most direct.
Bring or wear some water-ready shoes. The chilly waters rush strongest after rainfall, and Peavine Falls is a lovely oasis to cool off in after the rather challenging hikes that lead you there. It’s easy to make a full day out of your trip to this beloved state park.
Vickery Creek Falls at Roswell Mill
20 miles from Atlanta
For the GPS: 95 Mill St, Roswell, GA 30075
The last waterfall rounding out our list is man-made but just as beautiful and fun to find. Nestled within Atlanta’s Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, the Vickery Creek trail network leads to a striking spillway waterfall, through two historic mills, over a quaint covered bridge, and into gorgeous wooded terrain.
After a rocky and steep hike to the waterfall area, lots of people opt for a dip in the swimming hole, so pack a towel and a change of clothes. History buffs will love exploring the surrounding Roswell Mill ruins and their storied Civil War past (read about it before your trip!).
Savor some fun in the sun and water(falls) this summer!
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