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Short hike but beautiful falls!

I have been going to Backbone Rock for years and had no idea there was even a waterfall there... read more

Reviewed April 7, 2019
Bluff City, Tennessee
via mobile

Steep climb and uneven ground but worth it. Hidden on side of road by Backbone Rock. Go a little... read more

Reviewed September 7, 2018
Virginia Beach, Virginia
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Reviewed September 8, 2009

The Backbone Rock Waterfall is located in the Cherokee National Forest near Damascus, VA and Shady Valley, TN. It is located on a short trail near Backbone Rock on State Rd 133. My husband and I decided to stop at Backbone Rock & Backbone Rock Waterfall on our way back from our trip to Gatlinburg, TN. We were driving Interstate 81 and had searched for activities along our route of travel. We had been to Backbone Rock once over 10 years ago & thought it would be a nice place to revisit...and be a nice place to stretch our legs.

Once you park at the Backbone Rock parking lot, the waterfall trail is located to the right of the parking lot and across the street. It is also near a small informational sign about Backbone Rock. There are two entrances to the trail for the Backbone Rock Waterfall. The 1st entrance is closest to Backbone Rock and the informational signs. This trail is the longer of the two. It will take you through a wooded forest. It is not a real steep trail, so most people should be able to hike this trail. It is not paved, so you will be walking over dirt, fallen leaves, rocks and the occasional tree root. It was not a difficult trail, but there area a few steep dropoffs along the trail. There are blue dots painted on trees throughout the trail to help guide you to the waterfall. This was really helpful since there were not any signs or markers along the way. There was one lookout point on the trail where it came to an opening in the forest. It will probably take you 15 minutes or so to hike to the waterfall from this entrance. Once you near the waterfall you will cross over a small creek and walk down and around to the waterfall below. Here the trail does get a little steep and rocky. There are several steps carved into the rocks to get you down near the falls. If you want to actually get down to the base of the waterfall, you will have to hike down an embankment with rocks grass, and weeds. It can be done, but there is no actual "trail" leading you to the base of the falls.

Once we arrived at the falls, we stood there and took in the beauty of the wooded area. It was really peaceful being there in the park. We were the only ones on the trail at the time & it was so quiet. We stood there taking in the sounds, scents, and sights of the area. It was really relaxing to listen to the water cascading down over the rock. It was not a really large waterfall, but was still quite pretty. The sunlight was peeking through the trees and it created a really neat view of the falls and forest. It was definately worth the short hike and little effort required to view the falls.

Once we viewed the falls, we couldn't decide whether to go back the way we had just come OR continue on the trail. We decided to continue on the trail and I'm glad we did. We walked a short ways and then came to a large set of steps carved in rock. These steps led back to State Rd 133. This is what I would call the "short-cut". If you don't want to spend 15 minutes or so hiking to the waterfall, then you could take this entrance from State Road 133 to the falls. From this entrance, you will just walk up the set of steep steps and only walk a matter of feet before arriving at the waterfall...taking maybe 5 minutes to get to the waterfall. At this entrance to the waterfall on State Rd 133, there is a little brook that runs from the waterfall to the roadway, over some multi-tiered rocks and then runs down under the road. So, you will even see a miniature waterfall in this brook near this entrance to the BackBone Rock Waterfall trail.

This trail was not too difficult and it was really relaxing. I would recommend this trail to anyone who is looking for an easy to moderate hike to a waterfall in the area. It is a nice that this trail is basically a LOOP taking you from State Rd 133, through the woods, to the waterfall and then back to State Rd 133. Being a LOOP, also gives you the option of hiking the 15 minute wooded trail OR taking the "short-cut" steep rocky steps to view the falls if you are short on time. I think it is a trail that most people would be able to navigate, but you may want to watch little ones on this trail since there area a few steep dropoffs, steep steps, and could be slippery (wet leaves/rocks) especially after a rain.

If you are visiting Eastern Tennesse or Western Virginia, a stop a Backbone Rock & Backbone Rock Waterfall is worthwhile. You can hike Backbone Rock, have a picnic near the creek at the pavillion, and hike the Backbone Rock Waterfall trail. It is only a short drive (30 minutes or so) from exit 19 (Abingdon, VA) on Interstate 81. It is a nice way to stretch the legs and site see if you are traveling this section of Interstate 81 through Tennessee and Virginia. It is definately worth the short detour.

21  Thank daisyferret1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.