Polly Branch Falls Trail is a 10.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Sparta, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used 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!