SPENCER, Tenn. (WATE) – When you think of places for day trips or things to do on the weekends this time of year, your mind probably immediately goes to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but nearly 200,000 acres of land make up Tennessee’s state park system.
There are 56 parks, 1,100 miles of trails, 36 campgrounds and more than 80 waterfalls in Tennessee State Parks.
“We stay busy and this is a way for us to just get away from our normal activities. And this is such a big park you can just spend a week and have something to do every day,” said Joe Kelly.
More online: Tennessee State Parks
Joe and Amanda Kelly took their three daughters to Fall Creek Falls, It was a time to truly reconnect and enjoy the simple things like s’mores, mid-afternoon.
“We do more as a family here because we are here together, at home,” said Kelly.
The family said they love the friendly park staff and clean amenities, as well as the waterfalls. Fall Creek Falls is considered the state’s flagship park. It’s near Pikeville, less than two hours form Knoxville, and definitely lives up to its name.
“I was talking to our naturalist the other day and he stopped counting at 20 waterfalls,” said Fall Creek Falls State Park Manager Jacob Young.
There are overlooks to see some of the signature drops, like Cane Creek Falls or Fall Creek Falls itself, which is billed as the tallest single plunge east of the Mississippi. If you’re daring, you can take a short, but challenging drop down the cable trail. It’s a little more like rock climbing, but you get an incredible vantage point.
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There’s also a 335 acre lake, where you can also enjoy fishing and paddling, and even your lodging can turn into its own adventure.
“The thing that is cool about these cabins is you can fish from your deck watch the eagles swoop down on the lake. You can put your kayak or canoe right beside your cabin and go out on the lake,” said Young.
If you are looking for even more to do at Fall Creek Falls State Park, there are suspension bridges all across the park. They are not for the faint of heart, but if you are brave enough, the views are spectacular.
“It’s hard to put into words. We have a little bit of everything. Anything you like to do in the outdoors,” said Young.
That also includes swimming. There are two pools at Fall Creek Falls – some gorgeous swimming holes. And just when you think you’ve done everything at the park, think again. Officials say they keep acquiring new land for new adventures.
There are also amenities like the golf course, zip-lining, the bike trail and more.
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