Window Cliffs is a 4.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Window Cliff Estates, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
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This trail has some awesome, dynamic vegetation. Great scenery. The walk once you are down the initial hill is pretty leisurely. I knew there was creek crossings, but I was expecting normal trails' rock-hopping across creeks - No. You are nearly knee-deep through the 9 creek crossings each way. You either need a creek-crossing dedicated shoe (and change at each creek) or use a shoe with mesh outer and nylon socks which drain well. The cliffs are very rewarding and you have a smartly placed overlook before you get to the cliffs to wet your appetite.
I would compare this in difficulty to the Angel Falls Overlook trail. If you are a hiker or in good shape, this isn't too difficult. I completed in just under 2 hours of moving time.
GORGEOUS trail!!! We did the full trail in about 4.5 hours including stopping to hang out and enjoy the scenery occasionally. The trail is supposed to be 2.9 miles from beginning to cliffs and then an additional 2.9 back, but my gps actually read 6.5 miles total at the end. It's labeled "hard" for a reason. The entrance/exit of the trail is VERY STEEP and narrow. The creek crossings weren't very difficult as the water was kind of low, but it is absolutely necessary to have proper footwear.
I wore chacos and my feet are shredded. My friend wore closed toed Keen's and she was fine. I've worn my chacos on many wet/dry hikes and never had any issues, but this one was a beast. The water is too high for regular hiking boots so be sure to come equipped with a good quality wet/dry hiking shoe. We saw tons of people in flip flops, soaked squishing sneakers, strappy sandals and I hurt for them. They were miserable. Trust me, INVEST IN APPROPRIATE FOOTWEAR.
Once you get to the bottom of the steep portion of the trail, it's very easy to navigate. Beautiful streams, open meadows, a waterfall, incredible rock formations, lovely forest areas...there's an amazing variety of scenery on this trail. But back up...holy geez...ROUGH. They provide a few hiking poles at the top of the trail but go quickly, so I would also recommend trekking poles, especially for the challenging climb back up. Bring PLENTY of water and snacks and enjoy!!!
We had a great time hiking the trail and seeing the beautiful windows and the waterfall. Recommend good hiking shoes - you will get wet crossing the creeks. The exit was quite a climb. They do provide some walking sticks which helped but I would take your own if you have one just in case they are all gone.
Hiked the trail today 4/14/17. Beautiful day, great hike. I have hiked most trails in middle Tennessee, and this ranks as one of the most beautiful outside the Smokies. It is amazingly diverse, from dry ridge top, to wet canyon and creek sides, to overgrown meadows, to hemlock grove, pine forest, and great views on top of the Window cliffs.
My strong advice is that this trail was made for trekking poles, and good sturdy Chacos or Keen closed toe sandals. The 3/4 mile descent and exit into the gorge will test your balance and stamina. I walked in closed toe Keen Newport H2s and cringed at folks in wet boots and flip flops, working on blisters and smashed toes. You will get your feet wet with 18 creek crossings; no bridges, just cable crossings. The trekking poles come in real handy for these.
The real distance from parking lot to cliff-top and back is right at 5.8 miles round trip per my GPS. Give yourself a good three to four hours to hike the trail and linger at the side of the creek or waterfalls. The wild flowers are amazing and I look forward to spending a day in the gorge wandering the creek and using an ultralight rig for small mouth. Just remember you have a hard climb out at the end. Take plenty of water, as least two bottles.
Went yesterday by myself, take water! Loved making it to the top of the cliffs. Make sure you wear shoes that can get wet, you will have about 10 creek crossings, that was my favorite part!
Hiked in on opening weekend. For those of you who remember hiking and camping in this area before it was a park then you might be mildly disappointed that the natural beauty is a bit sanctioned off. The days of trespassing are over and it's fortunate that it is being preserved. Fragile limestone prevents you from climbing and getting a close view of the windows. Only one small area is accessible. The rest of the trail is a moderate hike. Wear shoes you can get soaked. There are 10 water crossings with guide cables and deep water in the spring. The trail loops in and out of beautiful stream side views and dense forest. Trillium, Iris, Foamflower, Phlox, Columbine, Maypop, Dogwood, Redbud and more were spotted blooming in the spring. Definitely a good day hike for those who like a few hours of moderate challenge.
Unlike most hikes, this one is great because you are going through creeks and rougher terrain. All the while, you enjoy waterfall, overlook, and can climb on top of the cliff.
great trail, 18 water crossings so wear water shoes!
Great in-and-out trail. Grand opening was yesterday. The TN Park rangers did a fantastic job on this new trail!!
Love the new trail. Cross the creek 9 times each way. Mileage is off on here. Total mileage is a little over 6 mikes. No dogs are allowed on trail. Trex poles are helpful and there are some at the beginning of the trail for now. Hopefully people won't steal them.
The trail officially opened yesterday (4.7.17), so we thought it would be a good day's adventure. The Putnam Co Executive Director is proud of it, and rightly so, but didn't indicate hazards.
The initial .75 miles is a steep, narrow (single file) descent with loose rock and slippery mud along gullies. There are 9 creek crossings (some knee- and shin-deep) going one way. We weren't dressed to cross chilly streams, so that was as far as we went (today).
You should be physically fit before starting (think about the responders who would have to carry you out!) and prepared with water (and a snack). A walking stick is a great companion, but leave the pup at home.
this trail has been aquired by Burgess Falls and will open April 7th 2017. new trails have been made. please contact the park for more info.
This trail is packed with beautiful scenery and will be a good workout. I highly recommend being in good physical condition before you attempt this trail, however (and waiting until after it is finished and opened to the public, since it is currently closed and you can be ticketed for entering illegally). The trail head location shared on this map right now (today is February 21st, 2017) shows the trail starting at the end of New Window Cliff Road. This is not the correct location as to where the trail will begin or end. This is an illegal access point reserved for emergency personnel for when the park opens. Also, the ending point of the trail currently shown on the map is on private property and it is also illegal to enter or exit at this location. Presently, the entire area is owned by the state and is closed to the public unless you enter as a volunteer with the rangers. The area is supposed to open to the public in early April 2017 but the official (legal) entrance will be off of Old Cane Creek Road in Baxter, TN. Hopefully somebody submits these edits to the map for review so the map will change to show the trail head near Old Cane Creek Road so when the park opens, people will know where to go and will not be trespassing to get to the window cliffs. The hike will be strenuous with some steep areas and will contain several river crossings. The river can be dangerous after heavy rains so check the weather ahead of time so you don't cross when the river is low and then get stranded when the water comes up (the water rises quickly after it starts to rain and can make river crossing difficult and dangerous). There are no bridges, so be prepared to get your feet wet. Start early in the day and bring plenty of food and water. If you plan to hike all the way in to the windows and back, you are looking at a 5+mile hike full of stream crossings and hills so you will want to give yourself plenty of time before dark. This area will remain a natural area, and therefore largely undeveloped, and will be day use only (no camping, no picnic tables and no bathrooms - though there will be porta potties). Oh, and it will be a dog-free park, so you will want to leave your furry friends at home. The scenery here is beautiful and well worth the trip - but take your time and plan it out beforehand to give yourself enough time to both enjoy the hike and stay safe.