Explore the most popular trails near Sparta with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Sparta, Tennessee Map
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backpacking
5 days ago

Trail was pretty easy to follow and there are plenty of waterfalls to look at along the way. On the hike in, we went up to Martha’s Pretty Point from the junction just past the cable crossing (solid uphill but nice view and campground). We stayed for about 15 minutes and then left and went back down to the main trail. Finished the trail and at the Falls loop junction (past Big Laurel Falls) we continued straight (lower trail) and down the rocky ridge. Rocky is 100% correct. It’s a rough downhill but nothing terrible. At the “T” we continued to the right and on to Virgin Falls (to the left is Caney Fork River). Great waterfall and a nice camp area. We took the spur trail to the top of the Falls. Very short trip and an easy place to get water if you’re staying here overnight.
There is a junction here to continue on to Lost Creek Trail but we didn’t go that way. We stayed the night and then continued the loop (upper trail), past Sheep Cave, and then back to the main Virgin Falls trail. If you’re not planning to do the entire Falls loop....take the UPPER trail on the way in and out. It’s less rocky, more flat, and generally easier.

The trail itself could use more trail markers past Big Laurel Falls but if you take a little time you can find the trail if you look ahead.
Wood had been pretty well picked through if you’re trying to build a campfire but go a little further out from your camp and you’re sure to find something that has fallen.

Overall a good hike and one I would do again.

Lots of waterfalls in a short hike. Easy in harder out. Like a fellow said we met on the trail “it’s all downhill till you turn around”! He was pretty much on the mark. Slippery rocks and leaves in winter but spring and fall would be awesome!

hiking
11 days ago

Absolutely incredible. I live in Nashville, and this trail tops my list for hikes that are within reasonable driving distance. Spectacular scenery with every step.

backpacking
19 days ago

Our 1st overnight experience. Going in was easy. Coming out was another story. Trails needs to be marked better, especially heading up to Sheep Cove from Virgin Falls. Next time, we will set up camp closer to trailhead or enter via the other side.

Trail was awesome. Needs better trail blazes on the backside of the trail.

hiking
26 days ago

Amazing hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Easy access but a very well kept secret, not a lot of traffic at all and it truly is a beautiful overlook. Perfect located for a picnic or sunrise/sunset hike

hiking
1 month ago

Probably one of the more impressive waterfalls I've seen. It's easy to lose the trail in between Virgin Falls and Sheep's Cave, so heads-up. I did this on a Thursday morning, and I only saw a handful of people the whole time. I had my dog with me, and we stopped at each waterfall for a bit, so it took me 5 or 6 hours.

Beautiful year round.

nature trips
1 month ago

beautiful in the autumn colors; peaceful in its isolation, almost other-worldly...

This is a strenuous hike. lots of rocks and boulders. if you love water falls this trail has plenty of falls.

hiking
1 month ago

Falls was well worth the hike. Being from Michigan where it is flat, I was pretty tired the last half of the hike on the way out as I was not used to the up and down. Was not as in shape as I thought either. Lol. Also did some geocaching along the way. Very much enjoyed this hike.

backpacking
1 month ago

The main to and from Virgin Falls is traveled a lot. I went backpacking on a rainy day and I passed 12 or so day hikers. The trail is rocky in portions and this trail is moderate, not sure why the trail is rated hard rating. "People" not backpackers, just can not leave TRASH at the falls, just plain lazy! I have found that short hikes, less than 10mile one way, are like this.

camping
1 month ago

We really enjoyed this trail and falls was gorgeous at the end!! Several of the camp sites were occupied but we were told of a couple alternate locations. The hike is fairly strenuous on the way back as most of it is uphill. We chose to set up camp earlier in the trail to reduce weight for the rest of our hike. Numerous places for swimming holes (if it were warm weather). Definitely coming back again!

Gorgeous alternative to our planned Molly’s Den ridge trail hike, which was closed for hunting season. Beautiful vista views. Waterfall. Cable crossing. Even a ladder climb along the way. Martha’s Pretty Point was our halfway point for lunch with a view! ‘‘Twas a great day!

hiking
1 month ago

Gorgeous!

Don’t go during hunting season! Had planned to hike from the trailhead to Welch’s Point and back. Closed for hunting events. Soooo we heeded the warnings. Parked and did the short trek to Welch’s. Plan B - back to Virgin Falls trailhead. Did a 5 mile loop out to Martha’s Pretty Point. ‘‘Twas a great great day!

Tough but nice. Technical in many places. The campsites were awesome.

hiking
2 months ago

Not much of a hike, but it’s beautiful. It’s great for kids, dogs, people who aren’t able to handle big/difficult hikes.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful hike. My wife and I hiked Virgin Falls in a day, left out around 8 AM in a foggy drizzle and by the time we reached Virgin Falls it was sunny and perfect. We did the main trail, spur to overlook, sheep cave, top of the falls and bottom of the falls and came in just over 11 miles total. Both Big Laurel Falls and Virgin Falls are pretty awesome. The trail has some sections over rocks on the descent in/ascent out that I would assume give the trail it's rating...they were tough, but not too bad. Once you reach Virgin Falls, I highly recommend the short climb down to the base, it's so worth it, (be careful it's muddy) and the short climb around to the top (again, so worth it!). We spent 45 minutes to an hour at Virgin Falls and at least another 30-45 at Big Laurel Falls, took our time and were still back to the lot in 7 hours total. I hiked it in chacos, the wife had boots...I could see where chacos might be an issue for some on the way down. Probably going to go back in a few weeks when the leaves are peaking. Also think it would be a great overnight and the camping options look great. Almost rated it a 5 but wasn't as well marked in some places as I expected, but still an excellent hike!

FYI- When you get to the Loop to the falls where it's 0.5 to the falls one way and 0.8 (Sheep Cave then falls) the other way, it might help to know that the shorter trek to the left is a fairly steep descent followed by a climb the last 0.2 mile or so to the falls. The slightly longer route to the right (also to the falls via Sheep Cave) is much flatter and possibly even quicker.

Super easy hike. You have an amazing waterfall that you are able to walk behind on one side and a huge cave 500 yards away on the other side. I highly recommend packing a lunch and eating at the waterfall. I was told the waterfall was used in the children's movie the Jungle Book.

Great short little hike with two trails and a couple of caves. The water fall was AMAZING!

hiking
2 months ago

We absolutely loved this hike on our honeymoon. The terrain is beautiful and unique with some of the coolest caves and waterfalls I’ve seen on a single hike. It took us about 7 hours. We hiked to Sheep Cave as well as to the top of Virgin Falls.

Worth noting:
On our way to Virgin Falls, we went the shorter way (Left) and came back by Sheeps Cave trail. The sign indicates that Sheeps Cave is a longer hike but I’ll say that the trail seemed much easier and I know it didn’t take us as long either. Both trails are beautiful but getting to see Sheeps cave and also having a bit easier hike leads me to say I’d go to the right to Sheeps Cave trail despite it being longer.

Remember to pack plenty of water and food and possibly a change of clothes at the least. We are fairly experienced day hikers and this trail is certainly hard but not grueling. If you prepare correctly, start early and take breaks when you need, it’s a very enjoyable long hike. This would be a great trail to hike to the falls and camp for the night, hike out the next day. I think we will do that next time as it is a long and tough single day hike for us.

backpacking
2 months ago

This was a great overnight hike. The falls were amazing. We did this hike on a weeknight so it was not crowded. We camped at the falls, but I think on our next trip we will stay at Martha's point.

Started the "trail" by Welch's Overlook and hiked down toward the river. Beware: THIS IS NOT A LOOP! Nor is it a real trail... it's an abandoned gravel road in extremely bad shape. Deep ruts and loose gravel along the steepest sections make things challenging, not moderate. The trail effectively ends at the river because the rest is either totally overgrown or washed out...it was hard to tell which. (Met a local on our way back who said it hasn't been a loop in years.) Also, either Amber's Den is along the inaccessible part or it's gone. Never saw it. On the positive side, the calm water made for a great place to swim and cool off. Overall the lack of scenery meant it wasn't worth the energy.

hiking
2 months ago

Loved this hike! There is beauty everywhere you look! Me and my friend completed this hike in one day. If I was ever doing it again, I would do it as a overnight trip. It is a hard hike. We thought it was harder getting down to the falls instead of back up. We did all the side trails Sheep’s Cave, Martha’s Pretty Point, we took the trail to top of virgin falls to see the cave. Very nice and a good place to cool yourself off! Wish we would have had more time to hang up a hammock and relax but had to make it out before dark. Our record time from AllTrails was 9:33 hours to complete. We did eat lunch and sit down at the falls and explore some! AllTrails clocked us at 13.9 miles not sure if that is correct or not my garmin watch said 12.8 miles so not sure which is right. It is so beautiful and worth the hike! Start really early if your not camping overnight!

Short and sweet, beautiful in all seasons!

We started really late so we only went to the overlook. The Ranger was awesome and super informative about time and distance. Loved the trail and rain. Apparently it rains often there. The trail is rated as hard, but up to the overlook it’s not difficult. The ascent up I guess is why it’s rated that way. Going to take another trip and go to the falls next time.

hiking
3 months ago

Unspoiled, rugged beauty. This trail is hard, but I guess it doesn’t help when it thunderstorms all the way back to the trailhead! GPS clocked 8.6 miles round trip to just go to Virgin Falls and back. Took me 5.5 hours but I was really slowed down by the torrential rain. Trails are well blazed and maintained with good signage. Passed several other hikers but it was still a very secluded and quiet hike. The streams and waterfalls are absolutely stunning. Be prepared with hiking boots and plenty of water or a way to filter water. Lots of exposed roots and rocks along the trails and some boulder scrambling. Be sure to stop at the station at the trailhead and speak to the ranger and get a map if you need one. He was a big help!

hiking
3 months ago

Favorite hike in Tennessee! My first time here we did a big day hike and covered 8.5 miles round trip. We stopped for lunch and took our time taking pictures of the mushrooms along the trail and 2 snakes that we saw, so in total our round trip was about 5 hours.

All of the waterfalls were raging like crazy, which I did not expect as many waterfall hikes in August are barely flowing. It wasn't so hot that I felt like jumping in but there were definitely nice areas that you could take a dip. The trail isn't too difficult but heading back to the trail head was mostly uphill which is where the "hard" rating comes in. It was really interesting to see the river and falls come out from underground cave areas. We hiked by the Sheep's Cave but didn't venture in.

We didn't see any campers but I think this would be a great place to backpack and explore the area more. The sites near the Virgin Falls seemed like the best.

I definitely recommend stopping by Welch's Point afterward -- the view is a great payoff that is only a short walk from the parking!

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