Polly Branch Falls Trail is a 10.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Sparta, TN that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is accessible from January until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Polly Branch Water fall loop trail takes you to the upper and lower falls, a primitive backpacking camp before looping back to the trailhead
The trail is flat, easy, and wide-open until you get to the turn-off for the falls, then it's downhill till fording the stream, making for a bit of a hike on the way back up. Hiking the trail in late winter isn't the prettiest, but I'd imagine with foliage it's a lot nicer.
This trail was very strenuous and poorly marked. We were unable to cross the cascades by foot due to how deep the water was. So in order to get to the campsite before dark we had to hike upstream and cross the cascades on a log. Although this trail is beautiful it was very strenuous and not what we had anticipated based on previous reviews,
A nice trail either for a day hike or a short overnighter.
It should be noted this trail is closed during deer season so you will want to check before heading out.
Nice trail, quiet and easy. Great enjoyable day out. A nice alternative to more strenuous virgin falls trail
Even though Virgin Falls gets more attention, the other trails in the area such as Polly Branch are well worth checking out. I completed this on a warm weekend when cars parked at the Virgin Falls trailhead emptied out to the road. But I only saw three other groups of hikers on this trail that day. The elevation changes aren't as drastic and the trail is wide and comfortable for most of its length. Because of the far lesser use on this side of the area the trail is in a much more natural condition. I was actually surprised by how many delicate wildflowers there were growing along and on the trail. There is minimal signage and blazes, but if you are watching it is not difficult to see the trail. On the day my group completed this trail, we hiked to the Caney Fork where a nice camp is then backtracked to catch a connector to the Chestnut Mountain Ranch trail. That meant two shallow stream crossings. As another hiker has said, much of this trail and others in the area are old log roads/trails
This hike was o.k. Definitely needs to have better signs. I hiked to the camping area and somehow came back out on a different trail. Lots of the trail is in old logging roads. The grass in the roads was rather tall which makes for uncomfortable hiking in shorts. It is a quiet hike with little traffic.
Beautiful area and very secluded. We did not see a single sole on this hike. We decided to make it a backpacking trip for a quick weekend run and hiked into the campsite location at night. A little messy hiking in so late and even more so from the rain falling. This is a dog friendly area and our dog loved every minute of it. We hiked to Polly Branch Falls and explored several of the overlooks. It appears the only legal camping location was at the base of the gulf, by a slow moving portion of Caney Creek. However we saw plenty of sites that looked closed due to overuse. There are plenty of views and things to enjoy for the weekend. Be sure to visit the nearby Virgin Falls area, which is truly spectacular.
Is this a dog friendly trail?
Incredible trail - lots to see and a wide diversity of terrain and sights form overlooks to multiple waterfalls. The app didn't work for recording the track unfortunately. Trail marking leave a little to be desired as far as frequency, but nothing ridiculous. MUCH easier hike than the Virgin Falls. One of my favorite trails in TN to date
My husband and I came here for a day trip and with the fall colors it was beautiful! The trail isn't actually a loop though. We went out to the look out point and then to the high falls and logged a little over 4 miles. We didn't hike out to the lower falls because there the high falls were fun to climb around (though pretty slippery so use caution) so a hike out the the lower falls and back would probably make it closer to the 5.5 posted. Also, you HAVE to cross the river to get down to the falls, and with all the rain we had it made it a little tricky to find stable rocks that my 5' 6" legs could reach. Luckily it wasn't cold enough for me to mind finishing the hike with wet feet :) All in all, a good little day hike for a day that you don't mind getting your feet wet.
The trail was great. We hiked down to the lower falls and camped. There was a great place to camp right next to the river so the kids could swim. On the way back, we accidently got onto Caney Creek Trail and went for a mile before realizing we were on the wrong trail. I didn't have a trail map and Caney Creek Trail was not marked so it was easy to do. After getting back, I read that lots of others have done the same thing. I suggest downloading the trail map from TN.gov of the whole area so you will know where you are. Good luck and have fun!
Started out at the trailhead - easy walk to the trail splits. The Polly Branch trail is back to the left, almost behind you. My friend and I missed it completely the first time we went through the area. She and I found it as we doubled back to the signs from the overlook. It heads sharply down the hill and comes to the creek. The creek crossing can be tricky but can be done. There are several creek crossings on these trails. The spur trail to the upper falls is clearly marked. The trail leads up and converges with another trail on an old logging road. From this trail, there are several trails. A spur trail leads to Jenny Branch Falls, which is a pretty easy trail until you get close to the fall. Rock climbing is a must here. Also, to see the two tiers above the main drop, climb up to the left of the fall. The top two tiers are very pretty. On down on the main trail, the main trail splits. One trail leads left to the river and alongside it until you reach Copper Cascades. There are signs ate the split. The trail to the right leads to lower Polly Branch Falls and Bee Branch Falls. This is another creek crossing, but can be done is you go down to the bottom of the falls and cross there. There is another fall - Polly Branch middle falls, but I have yet to find it. I've been twice and ran out of time both times. If you choose to follow the main logging road back, there will be another split and more spur trails. We followed the main road back to leave. There is an area where, if you turn to the left, you will cross another creek and come out on the gravel road .5 miles to the right of the trailhead. Head to the left and go around the curve and it will take you back to the trailhead. The blaze on the last part of this trail is red.
We walked 8 miles easily on these trails and still did not cover nearly all the trails in this wilderness.
Poly Branch falls was a nice day hike, not too much elevation change; very moderate workout... Twice we went the wrong way and ended up at Beehive overlook, because we went strait instead of taking a left at the beginning. The first time I think it was because the trail to the falls wasn't complete, the second time was due to failure to fully observe the sign. Some are recommending it for an overnight and for little ones this would do nicely but it was a little too short for an overnighter in my opinion. The site was next to a beautiful creek but could have used some more space for a good tent setup when we were there a couple weeks ago, they may expand the site, wish I had taken pics of it but I did not, sorry. Other than that great day hike, the falls leaves you with a good feeling at the end and there's plenty of water on this trail. I would like to explore the trail to the right sometime, haven't gotten a chance to yet, I think it leads to a creek and more campsites according to the signage.
I backpacked with my 5 and 7 year old boys to the Polly Branch Falls campsite. It was a pretty tough hike (2.5 miles) with packs for the little guys, but the campsite was worth it! Great place to build a fire and good creek water access. We loved our overnight stay on this trail!
Trail could be marked better. Trail markers are on the backside of trees and in many places the trees had grown around the markers. The falls are beautiful and well worth the trip.
Polly Branch trail takes you through mature timber to two wet weather waterfalls, to a nice backpacking camp along a crystal clear creek. It returns to the trail head in brand new section of trail recently created. Many other connecting trails. Well worth