COFFEE CO., Tenn., (WKRN) — A steady stream of visitors from near and far have been making their way to Rutledge Falls in Coffee County in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everybody wants to go see these waterfalls,” said Randy Hedgepath. “Everybody wants to go out to a place they can swim,” the State Naturalist added.
After coping with the regulations in the face of COVID-19, many people have been itching to get outdoors. They have found relief at destinations like Rutledge Falls.
“Rutledge Falls equals I have to live here,” said Greg Gostomsky of Florida.
“I got a lot of great pictures here, and it’s been a great impression for my first time in Tennessee,” said tourist Brandon Hochstatler.
Rutledge Falls has a unique history. “It’s a beautiful privately owned waterfall, where the landowners have graciously kept it open for people to enjoy for generations,” explained Hedgepath.
Before taking the descent to the falls, hikers are greeted by a statue dubbed “The Lady of the Falls.” Hedgepath said the statue was one of several that was removed from the State Capitol.
After taking in the beauty of the falls from afar, visitors can chose two paths to get to the bottom. One is steep, short and rocky. The other path is mild, worn and about 0.4 miles long.
“Luckily, we decided to come to Rutledge Falls today because it was less of a trek,” Gostomsky said while pointing to his flipflops.
At the end of the trail, hikers are greeted by the river that flows from the falls. There is also a large pool for swimmers to enjoy. “I had a lot of fun being here, and the water is really really cold,” said Hochstatler.
The owners keep Rutledge Falls free and open to the public. They ask in return that visitors help keep it clean for the next explorers that stop to visit.