We love exploring hiking trails that lead to waterfalls, but sometimes we need amazing waterfall views that don’t require time on the trail. Maybe it is too cold to spend hours hiking or we have other engagements that keep us from spending our entire day exploring a new outdoor adventure. For those busy days, we love finding places like Rock Island State Park where the waterfalls and overlooks are amazing and only require minimal time and effort.
Rock Island State Park
Last year, right around this time, we knew we didn’t have a lot of time but we also knew that this was the last opportunity to get out and enjoy the fall leaves before the weather really drops and the snow flurries start to fall. So we got out and went exploring.
The weather was in the low 30’s, but we bundled up and headed out. If you are new to cold weather hiking, you might want to see some of the things you need to make it a more enjoyable experience!
Twin Falls is a dramatic falls that is easily accessible with no hiking required. You can view the falls from the parking area, but to get the best views, you should walk down the metal stairs and walk along the edge of the water.
There are multiple hiking trails through the park that give you access to different views of Twin Falls.
You can take the full trails or just walk along the falls and climb out over the rocks to get some amazing adventures and create memories!
Some of my favorite pictures of the kids are those that just happen. Like this one! I love how it just tells the story of my family and our many adventures.
You can park beside the old cotton textile mill and walk across the parking lot to the Great Falls overlook. This is a beautiful area and does not require any hiking. You can walk along the edge of the overlook and enjoy the views.
If you walk to the far edge of the parking area, you can even see the Twin Falls that are accessible from the other side of the river. There is a hiking trail that is open at different times of the year depending on when the spillways are open or closed.
Rock Island State Park is an 883 acre park located on the headwaters of Center Hill Lake at the confluence of the Caney Fork, Collins and Rocky Rivers. The rugged beauty of the park includes the Caney Fork Gorge below Great Falls Dam. These overlooks are some of the most scenic and significant along the Eastern Highland Rim. Great Falls is a 30 foot horseshoe cascading waterfall, located below the 19th century cotton textile mill that it powered over 100 years ago. Rock Island became a Tennessee State Park in 1969.
At the far end of the State Park, you will find wide sandy beach and flat land right along the water’s edge. There is a picnic pavilion and playground.
Restrooms & Picnic Areas
There are restrooms available at the various locations throughout the park, as well as picnic tables, pavilions and playgrounds.
Find Rock Island State Park
82 Beach Rd
Rock Island, TN 38581
We put the address of the park in our GPS and were able to find the Twin Falls quite easily. Once you get close to the address, you will see brown wooden road sides directing you to Twin Falls. The road is narrow and follows the river down below. I would not recommend this road in the snow or ice since it is fairly high.
To get back to Great Falls, go back out to the main road and turn right heading into the small town of Rock Island. There are clear signs directing you to the Visitors Center and Great Falls overlook.
Things to Know
- There is no fee to visit Rock Island State Park.
- Restrooms are available throughout the park.
- You can easily see the waterfalls from the parking lot at both location. It is not necessary to hike to enjoy the views although steps are necessary to get down close to Twin Falls. There are a couple small steps if you want to get down to the overlook at Great Falls but these are very small.
- When the spillways are open at the dam, some of the hiking trails may be closed off.
- This is not a waterfall that allows swimming or wading. The currents are too strong at most places.
- There is a gas station/convenience store at the entrance to the park.
- If you are interested in antique shops, there are several local places that would be interesting to visit.
Looking for another waterfall nearby? Check out Burgess Falls!