Lost Creek Falls sees massive spike in visitors amid pandemic

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Davis Nolan's Weekend Waterfalls

SPARTA, Tenn. (WKRN) — Whether cascading with a gush or a trickle, the beauty of Lost Creek Falls cannot be denied.

The falls, located a short hike away from the well-known Lost Creek Cave, were once owned by James and Lillian Rylander. “They purchased it in the late ’80s,” recalled Stuart Carroll, State Park Manager.

Carroll played a vital role in transforming the charm into a protected state natural area. “We talked to him about purchasing the land,” he added, “and later on, he mentioned that he might put it in his will to donate it to the people of Tennessee.”

Mr. Rylander did just that. In 2012, written in his will upon his death, Lost Creek Falls became a precious gift and property of the Volunteer State. “It won’t be developed like you see in some state parks,” said Carroll.

  • Courtesy: Beth Nichole
  • Courtesy: Beth Nichole
  • Courtesy: Brian Solomon
  • Courtesy: Jeffrey Carr
  • Courtesy: Mandy Brock Cole
  • Courtesy: Mandy Brock Cole
  • Courtesy: Mandy Brock Cole
  • Courtesy: Rickey McCulley
  • Courtesy: Rob Fuller
  • Courtesy: Rob Fuller
  • Courtesy: Rob Fuller

Carroll has been a park manager for the fall, and others nearby, for more than six years. “This is one great place to bring your family and enjoy cooler temperatures in the summer because it is a cold air sink down here,” he explained. “It’s about 50 ft. high with some smaller waterfalls up top.”

With more than three decades of service to Tennessee Parks, Carroll has had a chance to explore and manage recreation and natural areas across the state. He said this year in the midst of COVID-19 parks have seen an explosive amount of visitors. “It may not seem like a lot, but if you add 50% to areas that are already jammed, 50% is a lot.”

To avoid crowds, Carroll suggested people looking to explore area parks should come during the week instead of weekend. “There are some really beautiful waterfalls, especially on the Cumberland Plateau.”

While Lost Creek Falls has yet to gain popularity unmatched by places like Burgess Falls, Carroll recalled it does have a bit of notoriety. “Several films were filmed here. The best known one was Walt Disney’s real life version of The Jungle Book.”

Carroll said it was chosen because the easy hike descends a 0.2 mile trail with minimal spots to stumble. “The waterfall here is accessible and it’s not far from the parking lot.”

For avid adventurers seeking a challenge, Carroll proposed they consider nearby Virgin Falls, Lost Creek Falls ‘big brother’. The hike promises an arduous eight to nine-mile round trip journey. “Virgin Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Tennessee that you have to work hard to see,” he added. “But it’s really worth it.”

Whether choosing Lost Creek Falls or another expedition, Carroll asked hikers to keep some tips in mind:

  • Do your homework and research the park you want to explore before you go
  • Wear appropriate attire like a hat, sunglasses, closed toe shoes
  • Prepare an emergency kit including first aid, flashlight, whistle
  • Pack snacks and plenty of water

While most state parks and natural areas are free and open to the public, many Tennessee waterfalls can still be found on private property. Next week on Davis Nolan’s Weekend Waterfalls – Davis heads to Coffee County to spotlight an exemplary waterfall on private property open to all wanderers.

Visit this website to learn more about Tennessee State Parks. You can also email Ask.TNStateParks@tn.gov

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