Virgin Falls

photo: Behind Big Laurel Falls - photo by Marty Silver Type: Backcountry
Length: 8.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Allowed Uses: Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Agency: Private
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

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Directions

Location: Access c. 8 miles S of De Rossett and US 70.
States: Tennessee
Counties: White
Latitude: 35.85415   Longitude: -85.28219

Virgin Falls is located southeast of Sparta and is accessible via Highway 70. Go to the community of DeRossett, 11 miles east of Sparta, turn onto Eastland Road and proceed six miles to Scott's Gulf Road. There, you will see a sign for the Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness. Turn right onto Scott's Gulf Road and proceed two miles to the parking area and trailhead on the right side of the road.

Description

Virgin Falls is 1,157-acre natural area located in White County. The natural area is named for Virgin Falls, which is formed by an underground stream that emerges from a cave, then drops over a 110-foot high cliff before disappearing into another cave at the bottom of the sink. The area is noted for its unique geological features and several (additional) other waterfalls including Big Laurel, Sheep Cave Falls, and Big Branch Falls. The caves at Virgin Falls include Big Laurel, Sheep Cave, and Virgin Falls Cave. The sinkholes at Virgin Falls, such as Virgin Falls Sink and Sheep Cave Sink, are characteristic of karst features found on the Cumberland Plateau. The Caney Fork River and its tributaries drain the area and contribute to the formation of the gorge. The Caney Fork Overlook provides a dramatic view of Scott's Gulf and the Caney Fork River 900 ft below.

Hiking to Virgin Falls and back to the parking area is a five to eight hour hike depending on your pace and whether you hike to the Caney Fork Overlook and/or the Caney Fork River. The trail leaving the parking area meanders down to the Big Branch of the Big Laurel Creek through an upland oak-hickory/chestnut oak hardwood forest crisscrossing a fern dominated upland drainage. Upon descending into the gorge the vegetation changes to hemlock and mixed mesophytic forest which includes maples, oaks, tulip poplar, hickories, buckeye, basswood, cherry, yellow birch, sycamore and many more species. Mountain laurel, magnolia and several ericaceous shrubs (such as various wild blueberries) are common along the trail. The trials pass by small rockhouses, boulder fields, sinks, caves, and waterfalls on route to Virgin Falls where the trail ends. The distance to Virgin Falls is four miles one way. There are designated camping sites off the trail (see map). There is no camping allowed above Virgin Falls. The streams at Virgin Falls are noted for flash flooding, so keep up-to-date on the weather conditions before hiking into the area

Additional Details

Primary Surface: Not Available
Secondary Surface: None
Average Grade: 0%
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Year Designated: 1973

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: State of Tennessee - trail details

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail management:
Bowaters Southern Paper Company
Calhoun , TN 37309

 

Photos

Virgin Falls. Photo by Marty Silver.

Virgin Falls. Photo by Marty Silver.

Big Laurel Falls flow to cave. Photo by Marty Silver.

Big Laurel Falls flow to cave. Photo by Marty Silver.

 

Pale pink Azalea cluster. Photo by Marty Silver.

Pale pink Azalea cluster. Photo by Marty Silver.

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