Machine Falls: 1.6 Miles Roundtrip
On Memorial Day, I took my mom and grandmother along to Machine Falls — a beautiful waterfall in Tullahoma, Tennessee, that I had hardly heard of before. It’s located in the Short Springs Natural Area, an area that features several great trails and falls. It was a wonderful little adventure–both family friendly AND dog friendly!
Tips for Getting There
- I used the handy-dandy alltrails app, which directed me to the route on Google Maps.
- There are no signs leading the way. You will simply come upon a WHITE WATER TOWER suddenly. You park there!
- The trailhead is directly across the road from the parking area and water tower–very simple to find!
- Once you head down the path, you’ll see this sign:
So, as you can see, the trail actually loops. We saw people go in both directions; however, we just headed straight. And honestly, when we left the falls, we actually headed back up the way we came. It’s my guess that it’s about the same distance either way! I’ll speak more to that further down.
A Description of the Trail
- For most of the way, one is essentially just strolling through the woods. The path is flat–very flat–and, therefore, easy. Sorry for the blurriness of this photo; I was shielding my camera from the rain!
- Approximately 3/4 of the way to the Falls, the trail begins descending into the gorge where the creek and falls are located. This is where it gets a little tricky. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult or dangerous even, but in the rain, we had to be careful with our footing as it was rather slippery in some places. Stairs are intermittent along the descent, but it’s mostly made up of rocks.
- IMPORTANT: Once one reaches the bottom of the descent, there is a bridge crossing a shallow stream. Crossing over it to the other side is how you continue along the trail loop. Turning right before you get to it will lead you to the waterfall!
- Before we headed toward the waterfall, we did walk across the bridge–you know, for photo’s sake. (Yes, my Nanna loved the view so much, she decided to enjoy it with a cigarette. Never have I seen someone smoking along a trail (total hiking foul)–that lady cracks me up).
- THE FUN PART: If I had to do this trail over again, I might would wear Chacos…maybe. When you turn right before the bridge, you’ll walk a little farther before essentially just having to walk through the creek bed. You can hop along rocks, but my Nanna wasn’t about that life–so I told her to suck it up and walk through the water 😀 And I’ll tell you who else wasn’t about that life–my dog, Lola. She’s up for a lot of things, but being wet is not one of them.
- Ahhhh! Machine Falls is situated in such a great area. The stream at its foot–while slightly deeper–is still shallow enough to wade through (about calf-deep) and perfect for kids to play in. There are boulders and logs to sit on–a great area to chill out around and have a picnic (if it’s not raining-*sigh*).
- One can easily climb up the rocks to stand beneath the falls (the photos with me in them were taken with a different camera).
- The water underneath the falls is extremely shallow and not very slippery at all. So stand directly beneath them for a surreal experience!
Note: The Return
- As I indicated before, we returned by going back up the way we came down. It really wasn’t that bad, but it can be a workout for the legs–if you’re not used to that sort of thing. My Nanna was a real trooper, as some of the steps were pretty tall, but she managed well!
- I don’t know what the trail is like if you go across the bridge and continue on around the loop, but I do plan on updating this page as soon as I find out!
For another great Tennessee Hike, consider Stone Door & Greeter Falls!