Short Springs - Tennessee Natural Area

Date Hiked: 11/13/11

Natural Area: Short Springs

Address: Short Springs Road, Tullahoma, TN

Latitude: 35.40730, Longitude: -86.17456

Trail Rating: moderate

Round-Trip Mileage: Machine Falls, Busby Falls, and Adams Falls trails loop - 3.05 miles. Laurel Bluff adds 1.5 miles

For Map, Trail Mileage, GPS, and Trail Notes go to Page 2

Pre-Hike Comments

While researching Old Stone Fort State Park, we saw Short Springs Natural Area. We had never visited the Natural Area prior to our hike.

The Hike

Directions: From I-24 near Manchester, TN, take exit 111, Hwy 55. Go west toward Manchester. Continue straight through Manchester toward Tullahoma - then, turn right onto Belmont Road after 4.7 miles. Cross the train tracks and the Old Highway and continue on Belmont for 1.3 miles - turn left on Rutledge Falls Dr. After 1.5 miles turn right on Rutledge Falls Rd. (Yes, there is a drive and a road given the same name). On Rutledge Falls Rd go 1.9 miles and turn left on Short Springs Rd - there is a market on the corner. Short Springs Natural Area Trailhead is at the junction of Short Springs Rd and Powell Rd in .9 miles. A huge water tank/tower sits adjacent to the parking area. (Modified directions from Google Maps)

Water Tower/tank

Note: We could not find a good way to the Natural Area. The drive was scenic; but required many turns and some of the roads were not signed.

Short Springs Sign

There are no restrooms or water at the trailhead.

From the Trailhead cross Short Springs Rd and enter the woods.

Busby Falls Sign

At .10 miles the trails reaches a major junction. A bench and kiosk are at the junction. Machine Falls Trail goes to the right or straight. The longer alternative goes left to Busby Falls (Bobo Creek).

Follow the blue blazed Busby Falls Trail.

concrete floor remains of building

In .30 miles is the concrete floor remaining from an old Scout building.

stairs at Bobo Creek

Continuing, it is another .05 miles to a set of wooden stairs leading to Bobo Creek.

Added Mileage
To add 1.5 miles to the hike, cross Bobo Creek and climb into a ravine following the purple blazed Laurel Bluff Trail.

Laurel Bluff Trail

Going left at the loop junction, the trail climbs steeply to the top of the ravine.

ravine on Laurel Bluff

The trail travels west easily and then skirts another steep ravine.

Point overlooking bobo Creek

Following the drainage the trail reaches a point high above the ravines junction with Bobo Creek at .90 miles from the stairs.

stairs at Bobo Creek

After .60 miles return to Bobo Creek and the blue blazed trail. The total distance is 1.5 miles.

Continuing on the Busby Falls, blue blazed, trail - pass unsigned overlooks of Busby Falls on the left. The trail then, curves to the contour of the slope in order to maintain an easy grade.

junction with Machine Falls Trail

At .35 miles the trail intersects with The Machine Falls Trail at a small rise.

Go left at the junction on the Machine Falls Trail, white blazed. (Going right returns to the junction .10 miles from the trailhead.)

Connector Trail

After .05 miles Machine Falls Trail reaches the Connector Trail, red blazed. The Connector descends to Machine Falls Branch, above the Falls, and then connects with the Machine Falls Trail on the return loop. The Connector Trail is .10 miles one way.

Steps down to branch

Continuing on the Machine Falls Trail, a short easy walk leads to a steep drop to Machine Falls Branch. Steps make the footing more secure.

sign at junction

At the Branch is a signed trail junction.

looking up Bobo Creek

The Wildflower Trail is a short loop to the left of the Machine Falls Trail. The Wildflower Trail is .10 miles as it follows the bank of Bobo Creek.

Machine Falls

Back at the Branch Junction, the trail to the right leads to the base of Machine Falls.

looking back at the path alongside the branch

Use care with the footing. After a short while the trail seems to end and the hiker is left to chose the easiest way along the creek. The Falls is reached in .05 miles. It is spectacular.

Machine Falls Bridge

Returning to the Branch Junction, Machine Falls Trail crosses the branch on a footbridge and then climbs steadily for .10 miles to the Adams Falls Trail Junction.

Adams Falls junction

Go left taking the orange blazed, Adams Falls Trail. The trail is an easy grade as it curves to meet the ravines.

Adams Falls sign

At .50 miles the trail reaches the Adams Falls sign. The creek is seasonal.

seep from side of Adams Falls drainage

The Falls is a few feet downstream. There does not seem to be a path to the bottom of the Falls. Even in drier seasons seeps flow from the banks.

Leaving the Falls the the trail makes a pleasant return to the trailhead. After crossing Adams Falls Creek a couple of times the easy path heads south to the junction with the Machine Falls Trail in .60 miles.

second Adams falls junction

Go left on Machine Falls Trail and continue the easy grade. (To the right is the first junction with the Adams Falls Trail which is a very short distance away.)

Connector trail looking south

At .20 miles the Machine Falls Trail intersects with the other end of the Connector Trail. A bridge is a short distance downhill.

powerline crossing

The Machine Falls Trail crosses beneath power lines (.05 miles) and then continues along the branch for .25 miles.

crossing the branch

After crossing the branch (no bridge) the trail climbs what seems to be an old road.

Trail leading to top of hill

At .15 miles the trail branches off to the right.

more powerlines

At the top of the hill, the trail goes beneath power lines.

end of the loop

Continuing the Trail re-enters the woods and reaches the end of the loop in .30 miles.

Turn left. The trailhead is across the road.

The total Machine Falls, Busby Falls, and Adams Falls trails loop is 3.05 miles.