If the great outdoors is your muse, you will find an abundance of natural and man-made beauty in Sparta and White County, which boast six public parks and two state parks -- Burgess Falls and Rock Island. There are creeks, rivers, waterfalls, caves, scenic overlooks and two wildlife management areas. At Sunset Rock on a clear day, you can see the treetops in Kentucky.
The Calfkiller, Caney Fork, Collins and Falling Water rivers and the Cane and Post Oak creeks provide visitors and locals with fun-filled canoeing, fishing or just plain tube floating and wading.
If you want a bigger expanse of water, nearby Center Hill Lake provides plenty of it for houseboating, skiing, fishing and other aquatic fun. The 64-mile-long U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir boasts 415 miles of mostly undeveloped natural shoreline and 18,200 surface acres of water. The lake features three waterfalls, eight marinas, five restaurants, a state park and nine recreation areas.
Many beautiful waterfalls that cascade over the rolling mountains of the Cumberland Plateau surround Sparta. They vary in height, but if you enjoy spectacular nature vistas, see them all.
Fanchers, Upper Taylor and Mist Falls on Center Hill Lake
On Center Hill Lake you can enjoy amazing waterfalls of breathtaking beauty -- 80-foot Fanchers Falls, 30-foot Upper Taylor Creek Falls and 100-foot Mist Falls. Natural paths wind through the gorge and open to these wonderful displays of nature’s beauty. For directions, pick up a map of the Center Hill Lake area at the Sparta-White County Chamber of Commerce, or telephone the Chamber at (931) 836-3552.
Wildcat Falls drops 35 feet and can be seen from your car as you travel Hwy. 70E, five miles east of Sparta. Drive half a mile farther east and you can view scenic Sunset Rock, with its 50-mile view of the Central Basin of the Cumberland Plateau. As the name of the monument suggests, the best view is at sunset.
Skilled kayakers have said they love the rated class five- to six- Caney Fork River Gorge that winds to its take-out point at Scott's Gulf Road in the Bridgestone/Firestone Wilderness area.
Pilot Falls pours over a 10-foot high rock ledge and spans from 35 to 100 feet in width, depending on the water level. The falls is off Hwy. 70E on the east side of Sparta, 11 miles from the square. Turn right on Eastland Road, then travel 15 miles and turn right onto Clifty Road. Drive another half-mile past Clifty Bridge to the parking area on the right just above the falls.
Fall Creek Falls State Park Waterfalls
Do you want to visit the highest vertical-drop falls east of the Rocky Mountains? If so, visit Fall Creek Falls, with its 256-foot waterfall. The river flowing into the falls has been dammed to protect the flow of water. The park is in western Cumberland County just across the White County line off Hwy. 70E. Several lesser falls inside the park also provide spectacular views.
Coon Creek Falls has a 250-foot drop but is not as wide as Fall Creek Falls. Because of the rainfall effect on Coon Creek, the falls can range from a small stream to a rushing flow. It is adjacent to Fall Creek Falls in the same sandstone slope.
Piney Creek Falls drops 40 feet into Cane Creek Gorge.
Cane Creek Falls is an 85-foot drop into Cane Creek.
Rockhouse Creek Falls is across the gorge from Cane Creek Falls and drops 125 feet.
Cane Creek Cascades flows 45 feet down a 60-foot wide sandstone wall behind the park's Nature Center.
To visit any of these waterfalls, drive to the park's entrance, a short distance from Hwy. 284 exit, 25 miles south of Sparta off Hwy. 111. Park headquarters is just inside the entrance. Or telephone (423) 881-3297. You can visit the Tennessee state parks Web site at www.tnstateparks.com for more information about this and Tennessee's other amazing parks.
Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness is the site of nine waterfalls. The most prominent are Polly's Upper Branch Falls, at about a 12-foot drop, and Virgin Falls, with its 110-foot drop.