Virgin Falls - Tennessee Natural Area

Date Hiked: 01/31/12

Natural Area: Virgin Falls

Address: Scott Gulf Road (see directions)

Latitude: 35.85394, Longitude: -85.28225

Trail Rating: difficult (it is a long climb returning from Virgin Falls)

Round-Trip Mileage: 8.20 miles, add .15 miles for Sheep Cave and 1.0 miles for the Overlook side trail

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

Pre-Hike Comments

This was my first visit to the area. I had been asked by several folks why we did not have a Virgin Falls page on cloudhiking. I needed to hike the trail.

The Hike

Directions: From Hwy 111 in Sparta, Tn take Hwy 70 East toward Crossville. After about 11 miles, turn right (south) on Eastland Rd (a sign is at the intersection). At 6 miles on Eastland Rd, turn right on Scotts Gulf Rd (a sign is at the intersection). The trailhead is a couple of miles on the right.

Virgin Falls Trailhead parking

Virgin Falls Trailhead Parking

At the trailhead, be sure to read the kiosk for any updated user information. If you are planning an overnight stay, a new self registration (Nov '13) is required. See Page 2.


Trailhead Kiosk - mile 0

Starting from the trailhead the trail begins a gentle descent into the Big Branch drainage.

crossing drainage on logs

Crossing the drainage - .25 miles

.25 miles from the trailhead, cross the drainage. In the wet season the crossing could be wet.

Second creek crossing

Crossing again - .45 miles

Stay on the same side of the drainage for another .20 miles and cross the creek (or creek bed) at .45 miles.

Crossing Big Branch on rocks

Big Branch Crossing - 1.25 miles

The trail follows Big Branch for another .80 miles until it crosses the creek on rocks.

Big Branch Falls

Big Branch Falls - 1.35 miles

Descending after the creek crossing the trail passes Big Branch Falls at 1.35 miles from the trailhead.

Cable crossing of big laurel

Big Laurel Creek - cable crossing - 1.50 miles

The trail leads away from Big Branch and after a couple of switchbacks comes to the Cable Crossing of Big Laurel Creek. A cable has been rigged across the creek to aid in crossing especially in higher water. All stream crossings may be dangerous in high water. Please use caution. The Cable Crossing is at 1.50 miles from the trailhead.

The first camping sites are located near the crossing.

start of the overlook

Overlook Trail Junction - 1.65 miles

Following Big Laurel Creek in .15 miles is the junction with the Overlook Trail.

the Overlook

Blue blazes leading to the Overlook - .5 miles from Main Trail

The Overlook Trail (blue blazes) leaves the Virgin Falls Trail, climbs 100 feet, and then begins a long traverse under rock bluffs. After a switchback the trail works its way back to a weakness in the cliffs. At .35 miles from Virgin Falls Trail a ladder climbs adjacent to a drainage. From the ladder it is .15 miles to the Overlook. A camping site is located at the Overlook.

From the Trailhead it is 2.15 miles to the Overlook.

stairs coming down from the overlook

Ladder on the Overlook side trail - .35 miles from Main Trail & .15 miles to the Overlook

After enjoying the Overlook retrace the Overlook Trail to return to the Virgin Falls Trail. Note: the side trail's mileage is not included in the Virgin Falls mileage.

trail goes under outcrop

Small Cliff a short distance from the Overlook Junction

From the Overlook Trail Junction (1.65 miles) descend a short distance and the trail crosses beneath a small rock bluff.

Big Laurel Falls

Big Laurel Falls - 2.30

Continuing the trail reaches Big Laurel Falls in another .65 miles or 2.30 miles from the Trailhead. A designated camping site is located near the falls.

From Big Laurel Falls it is 1.10 miles to the next junction. The trail tees into the Virgin Falls Loop 3.40 miles from the trailhead. The falls may be reached in either direction; but going right is preferred.

Sheep Cave Junction

Sheep Cave Junction - 3.70 miles

From the Loop Junction it is .30 miles to Sheep Cave Junction.

trail to Sheep Cave

Trail to Sheep Cave

At the Sheep Cave Junction it is only .15 miles round trip to visit the cave. It is a good side trip. Note: the side trail's mileage is not included in the Virgin Falls mileage.

From the Sheep Cave Junction (3.70 miles from the Trailhead) it is .55 miles to Virgin Falls.

Virgin Falls

Virgin Falls - 4.25 miles

Virgin Falls is at 4.25 miles from the Trailhead.

Virgin Falls Camp


A campsite located near the falls.

No official trails go to the top of the falls.

Steep Ridge rising up from the lowest point of the trail

Steep ridge returning to the Loop Junction - 3.60 miles to the Trailhead

To continue on the Virgin Falls Loop Trail follow the blazes as the trail descends to the Caney Fork's bottom land. The trail does not go to Caney Fork. Instead, at .35 miles from the Falls, the trail climbs a steep rocky ridge.

In .20 miles the trail returns to the Virgin Falls Loop Trail Junction. Go right to return to the Trailhead. It is 3.40 miles and 700 feet elevation gain to return to the trailhead.

The total distance is 8.20 miles.