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Virgin Falls Lollipop

Difficult
 4.7 (24) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

An excellent hike that cuts through old logging land and follows a creek with many waterfalls.


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Map Key

8.0

Miles

12.8

KM

Loop

1,820' 555 m

High

991' 302 m

Low

867' 264 m

Up

867' 264 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

20%

Max Grade (11°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Cave · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

Overview

This hike is located in the Virgin Falls Designated State Natural Area. This area is a Tennessee natural-scientific area located in White County, Tennessee. 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 waterfalls including Virgin Falls, Big Laurel Falls, and Big Branch Falls. There are other points of interest also, such as caves and a scenic overlook.

Need to Know

Summers can be hot but there are caves along the trail that offer a cool down and rest spot. Take plenty of water or a good water filtration system.

The trail is rough and at some points very narrow, so care should be taken, especially with young hikers. Consider this route a strenuous hike.

Description

This route is composed of the combination of two trails, the Virgin Falls Trail and the Virgin Falls Loop Trail. The trailhead for the Virgin Falls Trail is located on the north end of the parking lot and is clearly designated with signs.

The trail cuts across a forest, quickly meeting up with Big Laurel Creek. It then follows and crosses the creek to the first waterfall, Big Branch Falls. After a cable crossing of Big Laurel Creek, the trail narrows and stays high on the ravine for some distance. In this part, the trail crosses a boulder field and eventually meets back up with the creek. As the Big Laurel Creek flows downward, the trail follows the creek and becomes very narrow. It passes caves, several small rock houses and a junction to a side trail to an overlook at Martha's Pretty Point.

At about the 2 1/2 mile mark, the trail brings you to the base of Big Laurel Falls. Tent camping is available here, and this is a good place to camp. The trail continues away from Big Laurel Falls on and up the side of the ravine of the Caney Fork River. Continue on, and the trail will pass a couple of small caves and waterfalls. At the 3.4-mile mark, the Virgin Falls Trail has a junction with the Virgin Falls Loop Trail. The Virgin Falls Loop Trail is a short loop trail which ties Virgin Falls as well as two other side trails to the Virgin Falls Trail. Since this is a loop trail, it can be taken either clockwise or counterclockwise. The route is well marked with signs pointing in both directions of the loop. The counterclockwise direction goes toward the junction of a side trail to Sheep Cave, while the clockwise direction heads more directly to Virgin Falls.

Taking the loop clockwise, the trail descends along a ridge toward the Caney Fork River. It levels out at the bottom of the ridge, crosses a creek, and arrives at Virgin Falls about a 1/2 mile from the loop trailhead. Tent camping is also available next to this waterfall. It is a beautiful waterfall in a beautiful setting but like most waterfalls, it is more spectacular during times of high rain. Traveling on in the clockwise direction, in a 1/2 mile, you'll reach the junction of a side trail to Sheep Cave and then to the junction of the Virgin Falls Trail in another 1/3 mile.

From that point, follow the Virgin Falls Trail for another 3.4 miles to the trail parking area.

Flora & Fauna

You'll find a hardwood forest in the fern-dominated upper portion of the route. In the gorge, the vegetation changes to hemlock, maples, oaks, tulip poplar, hickories, buckeye, basswood, cherry, yellow birch, sycamore, and many more species. Mountain laurel, magnolia and several other shrubs (such as various wild blueberries) are common along the trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Charles Pulse

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 24 votes

#333

Overall
  4.7 from 24 votes
5 Star
75%
4 Star
17%
3 Star
8%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#12

in Tennessee

#333

Overall
211 Views Last Month
4,953 Since Sep 14, 2015
Difficult

0%
0%
13%
0%
87%
0%

Photos

Meditating at Virgin Falls
Aug 21, 2016 near Sparta, TN
Virgin falls trail Marthas pretty point spur trail
Apr 8, 2018 near Sparta, TN
Virgin Falls State Natural Area - Big Laurel Creek.
Sep 6, 2016 near Sparta, TN
Admiring Virgin Falls.
Sep 6, 2016 near Sparta, TN
Virgin Falls State Natural Area in the fall.
Sep 6, 2016 near Sparta, TN
Hiking toward the falls.
Sep 13, 2016 near Sparta, TN

Weather


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Check-Ins

Nov 17, 2019
Chantel Seas
cold day 4.3mi
Oct 12, 2019
Bradley Daniels
The hike is a pleasant one and offers a few scenic spots to relax and enjoy the views. Big Laurel and Branch Falls were both "dry" in mid-October. 8.6mi — 5h 30m
May 20, 2019
Ryan Peplinski
Apr 6, 2019
e w
Mar 31, 2019
Natasha Stoltz
Mar 27, 2019
Adam Scalf
Took some side trails. Was beautiful. Loved the river and final waterfall. Definitely worth the hike 9.7mi — 6h 30m
Jan 23, 2019
Lincoln Hulbert
Great and beautiful trail. Would plan extra time to be able to sit and enjoy all the waterfalls, springs, and caves 9mi
Dec 26, 2018
Tyler Adcock
8mi