Prater Place and Hemlock Falls Trail

MODERATE 30 reviews

Prater Place and Hemlock Falls Trail is a 5.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Spencer, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

5.8 miles
666 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash


nature trips





wild flowers





This a new trail located in the recent Fall Creek Falls acreage addition to the park, and is located outside of the park entrance just off Hwy 30 on Hwy 285 in Van Buren county. This trail is also home of the Camps Gulf Cave which is famous for it's large chambers and rooms. Spectacular scenery, wildflowers, creek crossings, river views and finally ending at the short, but very scenic Hemlock Falls. Please be warned there are many rocky and steep points along this journey.

3 months ago

I want to like this trail but it was badly marked. There is no signage for this trail on the road, you have to AllTrails it in your phone. There were huge construction trucks working on the power line which took up the small parking area. I was little skeptical about parking there and leaving my car but I figured hopefully it would be there and not squished when I got back.
It’s a flat trail at first with a creek crossing in the beginning. Because of the lack of markers I guessed at a fork and of course guessed wrong. I ended up going up a steep rocky hillside trying to see if I could find the trail. It was getting late so I retraced my steps and went back down to the fork and back out. I did get to the mouth of the cave which looked extremely intriguing. I’ll definitely go back and try to find the right trail and then go into the cave.

8 months ago

This has been my least favorite trail ever. There were lots of spiderweb's, the trail was overgrown with vegetation and as a bonus, we got a bad case of chiggers. The beginning was very beautiful though. I loved the creek.

10 months ago

Woke up at 5:30 to head to Prater Place Trail. It was very overgrown and you walk through LOTS of spider webs. It's a 6.2 mile trail. Elevation over 1,000. There were AMAZING CAVES! I just wish I had a rope because the really cool looking ones were 40 feet deep into a sink hole. I have a pictures
and a video to show you. It looked like there was three cave entrances in the giant sink hole. But the rocks are really slippery! The waterfall was very pretty as well. I'll give it a 5/10. Only because the trail was in bad condition and overgrown. The caves were what made it a 5/10, otherwise it would be a 3/10. I want to go back sometime with a buddy and go caving! It's completely off trail to get to the sink hole, so it's difficult to get to. I slipped and got my foot stuck in between to boulders. I'm not hurt tho. It's just a bruise

Monday, August 07, 2017

Not sure why this is rated moderate as it was flat the whole way mostly--very easy. Probably my least favorite hike so far. Around 6.0 miles in the woods and full of spider webs and other critters. There is a bright side to this hike. A pretty waterfall is at the end, however if you try to explore the falls like me you may end up with tiny ticks all over so I would stick to the path or stay away from this trail completely. Won't be going back here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

My husband and I did this trail this past weekend. Overall, it was a nice hike. This was one we had never done before and we were intrigued as no one we asked had really heard of it. We recorded this hike to be closer to 7 miles rather than 6. There were some steep, rocky climbs in some places. This is a true natural surface trail so I might say this could be rated more on the difficult side depending on your physical state. We had to stop a couple of times to make sure we were still going the correct way. The trail is mostly marked by red ribbons on tree trunks and limbs. There are more reflective markers the closer you get to the falls. And due to it apparently being a lesser known trail, there were plenty of spider webs to shimmy out of. Not too big a deal. Where there's bugs, there's spiders. But, as I mentioned, overall the hike was nice. It had some neat rock faces, beautiful scenery, some wild flowers, and Hemlock Falls was really, really pretty. It's not first in our list, but it was good to experience it.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

On a whim I decided to take my family on this hike after church. We were quite unprepared, and TN state parks love claiming 2.76 miles for longer hikes (both this hike and the new Window Cliff hikes are listed at 2.76 miles when they actually exceed three miles). However, my failure at preparation is no reason for a bad review, so I will consider the hike itself. The trail starts with a river crossing, so if the water is flowing, expect to get your feet wet. It then follows the north side of an east-west valley, turning up the mountain side and traversing the kind of rocks copperhead snakes like to bask on. Yes, we saw one, and were on constant lookout for others. Toward the end of the hike the trail dropped back to river level and ended at Hemlock Falls. In a park known for tall waterfalls, this short drop was rather disappointing, but wildflowers abounded and more than made up for the small falls. On the way out, we lost the trail (it's not well traveled, and has very few blazes) and ended up following the old service road which meant several water crossings before we found the trail again. While it's beautiful and we saw hundreds of flowers, it's tough hiking, and we all recommend sticking to the trail. We made some great memories, and plan to hike here again.

Monday, March 13, 2017

I went last Friday with my boyfriend and dog. This was a fun trail! It had stormed the night before so the creeks were full and flowing. You do cross one big creek near the start of the trail (my dog had a blast in it!), so prepare for wet feet. We spent about 4 hours walking and stopping for pictures and lunch. The turn for the trailhead is a little hidden. There are no signs for it off the road. Will definitely go again!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Beautiful forest and falls. Not difficult to follow trail. Moderate climbs. Saw no people all day. Interesting sink-holes, caves, and rock cliffs.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

This trail has rocky and forestry terrain with a steep climb. Hemlock Falls are small this time a year but maybe more water in the spring?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Looks like a nice trail but we had to turn around and head back after about a mile because we where sick of walking into spider webs.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A nice trail that was easy to follow, but very few blazes and most are just red plastic ribbons. We saw lots of evidence of wild hogs and actually saw a group of about 6. The side trail to the cave is not marked, but you turn right at the first directional sign indicating Prater Place is to the left. Also a sign there starting there is no camping.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Great day for hiking. Trail was well cleared and easy to follow.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

It was a good trail. There were several muddy spots on the trail. I recorded 6.6 miles. I did got off trail s few times. Took me 3 hours.
The best was crossing the creek a few times and putting up my hammock at the falls.

Monday, February 01, 2016

My wife and I hiked this the last Saturday in January. The trail was muddy in places from the snow the week before, slowed us up a bit but no real problem. Also the creek was up a bit, presumably for the same reason, and it took us a little while to get across the creek, both coming and going. About a mile and a quarter out, the trail seemed to disappear. We followed some red flagging (which I later discovered to be survey markings and not trail markings) up a very steep gully with large boulders. It was a tough climb and at the top, we could not relocate the trail, so we headed back. It was a gorgeous day and we can't wait to go back in the spring after everything buds out.

Friday, September 11, 2015

My wife and I did this trail Labor day weekend. We were the only people on the trail, so it was nice and quiet. The trail is easily followed for the first half. There were several trees down across the trail, no biggie. After we got to a cave and water fall (we think, no water) we kept on going upward for about another mile marked by red markers in the trees which I found out later were survey markers not trail markers. I'm sure we went farther than we needed. I called Fall Creek Falls the next day and they told me the trail was marked in white but they had some vandalism up in the recent past. We are in our sixties so it was vigorous at the end. They said they would send rangers up there to clear and remark if needed.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The distance is listed as 2.9 miles. It is actually a 5.8 mile hike. Once you reach the falls at 2.9 miles the only way out is to retrace your steps back down the trail which doubles your mileage. So make sure you have made time for a 6 mile hike.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Great hike with very low traffic. But the directions to get there that are given are sketchy. The trailhead is off of 285 and not where Google maps directs you. I would consider it a moderate hike for older children and adults. But it gets steep in certain areas so small children might not do as well. The trail gets very muddy in some low areas if there has been much rainfall recently. All in all a good hike for someone looking for a trail that is not overly traveled since its a new addition to Fall Creek Falls State Park.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Great hike with great reward at the end, Hemlock Falls was amazing.

3 months ago

11 months ago

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Friday, April 29, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Wednesday, October 22, 2014