Compression Falls

HARD 57 reviews
#9 of 113 trails in

Compression Falls is a 1.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Butler, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and rock climbing and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

1.7 miles
682 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash


rock climbing





wild flowers





Hard to find trail with very challenging descent to river and series of waterfalls, main falls is Compression Falls, further up river are two more falls, Twisting Falls and another falls, but are harder to get to. Compression Falls - many times misnamed Twisting Falls - is found in the Elk Mills area of Carter County near the border with North Carolina. On the northeast side of Beech Mountain, NC and just across the Tennessee border on Dark Ridge Road, this hike starts from a dirt parking lot down a gradual and wide 0.3 mi. trail to a sharp left turn straight down a 60 degree quarter mile slope through the forest to a riverbed. You have to use roots & rocks as steps and tree holds to maintain balance (and the way up is a climb) and reach the Elk River. From there, take a left upriver about another third of a mile to the biggest falls, 35' Compression Falls. Another quarter mile upriver is 20' Twisting Falls, and the locals tell me there is another 20' falls upriver from that. This trail is extremely dangerous and the locals don't recommend anything but hiking boots to get you there and back. The climb up is a great workout however. The falls are beautiful and pretty impressive.

Hard going down, but worth it all! You can even jump off the first waterfall!

16 days ago

The falls are beautiful, the hike down is as rough as people say it is. Wear good shoes and bring some shoes to swim in!

20 days ago

Short but very hard. Great swimming area at the falls.

22 days ago

29 days ago

Trail quite washed out, parking, too. Once you get down, it is nice—just not sure it is worth the struggle.

1 month ago

Very short, but a difficult hike. Definitely not a trail for anyone that has problems with very steep hillsides. Wear good shoes and enjoy the beauty!

2 months ago

I've heard about compressions for years but finally made it out. The waterfall seems a lot bigger in person than in pictures. The hike itself is pretty brutal on the way back up but it's short. Nice swimming holes and places to hangout. Totally worth it

3 months ago

This trail was as hard as the review say. After hiking this, I was completely stiff and sore the next day due to how steep, it was almost like rock climbing. Other than that, completely worth it! Absolutely beautiful hike and waterfall.

4 months ago

The hike was fun but my friends and I brushed against a plant called Giant Hogweed. I did a ton of research because I got 3rd degree burns from this plant across my half of my shin. I would advise to AVOID this trail or be extremely careful. Someone needs to go out there and take care of this plant. I'm scarred to this day and still sensitive when I put my socks on. The pain was unbearable, stuck indoors for 2 weeks straight. Blisters the size of a baseball on my leg. And this location is the only place in the area that this stuff has been reported. I would have reported it but I don't know where I brushed against the plant. All I know is that I was hiking on this trail with my friends and I noticed weird burns on my legs later that night. Two days later my leg was covered in tiny EXTREMELY painful blisters. By day 6 my entire leg was purple and blue and swollen I had no idea what had happened and I had to visit 6 different doctors. It was 14 days before I came outside for the first time. Took 3 months to get rid of the blisters. I am scared and sensitive to this day. PLEASE AVOID THIS TRAIL!!!!!!!!!!

9 months ago

9 months ago

this hike should be labeled as hard. it so steep coming down and going back up. it's not marked very well at all. a resident had to put a sign in their own yard to show people which way to go towards the falls. the only reason I'm giving this trail a 4 is because of the waterfall

9 months ago

Beautiful spot, hike is pretty short but many will find it challenging. Very steep descent toward waterfall, wet rocks around falls - watch your step and keep phones and cameras in bags. Waterfall is beautiful, water is on the chilly side. It's deep enough for jumping from the top (I would say more than 8ft deep on the left hand side of the waterfall), although it's slippery. Get enough grip to push yourself off the rock and you are good to go. There is another smaller waterfall on top, and both can be climbed from the bottom, there are two sets of ropes to help with the steep rocks. To climb the second one, you actually have to get in the water/well, so bring spare set of clothes and possibly a towel.

Now, it seems to me like a lot of college students like to hang around there (it's pretty close to app state) and I couldn't believe how much trash was left behind. Not saying it's all students, but there's a good chance they were. I like to call them hashtag hikers. Empty beer cans and bags of chips, toilet paper, I even saw laundry basket laying there. I assume most of the people will clean up after themselves, please do!

Besides that, totally worth visiting if you are in the neighborhood, you will have fun couple of hours.

10 months ago

Beautiful waterfall. Hike isn't long but is very steep.

11 months ago

Went last weekend right after a lot of rainfall so the water was really flowing. The trail isn't terribly difficult though I would suggest shoes with good tread. Be watchful for yellow jacket bees nests as we saw 3 nests in the ground along the trail. Luckily we didn't get stung but some folks nearby did. We slid off the falls and the water was swift so be sure you are a good swimmer if you decide to do this. Overall an excellent hike and the waterfalls are amazing!!

11 months ago

Crazy good

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Very good overall but the climb down the trail was slippery and dangerous.

Would suggest caution especially when wet and if you do not have some level of experience.

Friday, June 02, 2017

awesome falls that are way off the beaten path. Great place to escape, chances are you'll only find a few locals. Definitely not a tourist trap! #enjoythewild

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pretty day! Fun to jump and explore cliffs! It's pretty dangerous and slippery tho!

Monday, September 05, 2016

The trail was steep, but not 2 miles like the app indicates. It is definitely worth getting down to the falls and at least jumping in for a swim. I wouldn't wear flip flops, but water shoes will work fine. Also, if you're bringing any kind of beverages or food, please take your trash back up with you.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

We have never hiked "down" to a waterfall, so this was a different experience. It was steep, but fun. The falls were amazing. I actually wish I had the guts to slide down the main falls into the pool. I wish the college students took their trash with them. Just beware the rocks are extremely slippery. My husband & I had a blast & plan to come back.

Monday, July 18, 2016

It was a lot harder than we expected, but it was definitely worth it!! Highly recommended, but be sure to wear good hiking shoes!!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Awesome! There is much risk involved particularly going down. Very steep elevation and you must be very reliant on taking your time and using trees to grab on to. In addition, the rocks are slick and treacherous at the falls if not careful. Going back up is much safer but quite exerting. Well worth it without a doubt!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Super steep but well worth it. We backpacked in and camped. Not much space to camp but magical to wake up with this falls in sight. Two more falls above this one that are easily accessible by swimming. We jumped off both and slid off of the main falls! Had an absolute blast! Currents can be strong so be careful and use your brain. And as always...TRASH IN TRASH OUT! Picked up atleast two bags worth of left over trash :(

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Very steep trail; bring some good hiking shoes. The climb up is actually easier, in terms of slipping risks, just more of a workout. The rocks to get to the base of the waterfall are also very slippery but there is a rope to help you up. The fall itself is absolutely gorgeous. Pictures just do not do it justice. If you plan on jumping off, please be careful; there were three people who were injured from jumping when we went, and locals told us injuries were common. Other than that, the fall was worth the hike!

Friday, May 13, 2016

PLEASE take your trash with you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Steep steep steep! But well worth it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A mean climb in and out. Thank goodness it's a short distance! The area and the fall is beautiful. We caught it with lots of ice formations during the cold snowy spell this winter (January 2016)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

sept. 2015 I was just there yesterday. ITS A MESS. I will be taking 4 or 5 trash bags with me next time to make an effort to clean up. There are beer cans galore and millions of waterbottles, socks, cigarettes disgusting. Whoever was there before me should be jailed. All of them. Other than that this is an AMAZING place to go. The trail is quite a hike down and up but completely worth it. Also my boyfriend and I had to do some treasure hunting to find the trail head. there is a old completely dilapidated barn on the hill to the left and if you keep going there is a place you can veer to the right or keep going straight and run into private property. Veer right. Park and start walking until you see some powerlines and then look down and youll see the trail. Unreal how steep but go do it!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Seriously, bring a small bag to put your trash in and take with you.

Challenging, steep slop all the way down to the waterfall. Getting back up was even more of a workout, but it's so worth it to see the falls. Definitely really slippery so you have to be extra careful when making your way closer to the fall to swim.

Monday, June 15, 2015

I might actually rate this a black diamond rather than moderate. The distance isn't bad at all with only a little more than a mile in o the falls but the trail itself is more like the dried washout path of running water after it rains. It's very steep and rocky. I wore hiking shoes and had poles but stil slipped once on the way down. The way up is a challenging workout. The trail isn't really marked on the way down to the water but it's easy to see where everybody else has tread especially as you walk upstream to the falls. The rocks in Elk River are extreme slippery and covered with algae. You will probably have to get your feet wet and to some rock climbing to get to the base of the falls. I saw plenty of folks swimming and even sliding down the 30 foot falls as it was 90 degrees. There were plenty of dogs on the trail and in the water too. It's a beatutiful water fall but it's too bad so many people leave their trash behind.

Load More