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Note: I took a stab here at indicating which trails are little-kid-friendly [LK], big-kid-friendly [BK], and flat/accessible [A]. But if you’re interested in more details, please let me know!

Trails at Foster Falls

Overlook view

Waterfall overlook [LK] [BK] [A]

The path to the waterfall overlook is short and flat. It’s just off of the main parking lot. The view of the falls can be a little obstructed by trees, but is still pretty nice given how easy it is to get to.

Trail to the base of the falls [LK] [BK]

The trail to the base of the falls is very short, but is steep and rocky. I’ve seen small kids make the journey, but be prepared to go slowly and carefully. At the bottom you cross a neat suspension bridge to get to the base of the falls.

Fiery Gizzard Trail [BK]

The Fiery Gizzard Trail is really long (about 12 miles), but it starts at Foster Falls, which means you can do an out-and-back hike as short or as long as you want. This trail crosses the creek above and behind the falls, and allows you to get a good view of the falls from the other side of the gorge. Lots of good overlooks on this highland trail.

Swimming at Foster Falls

Swimming in the pool is fun, although the water can be chilly! I will bring a few inflatable toys/rafts. It’s nice to swim around a bit and then hang out around the pool. It’s kind of rocky down there, so a hammock or camping chair would facilitate maximum lounging.

Climbing at Foster Falls

I’m not an experienced outdoor climber, but this spot is supposedly world-class. We routinely see climbers there who have license plates from all across the country. More info here.

You can also hike around the climbers’ loop (which starts at the base of the falls) and just watch other people climb, which is about my speed. :)

Hanging out

Obviously hanging out at the campground with the group will be a main attraction!

Probably most folks will be around through the mid-morning and be back before sunset, so there should be plenty of opportunities for quality time even if you don’t plan to stray far from the campground.

If you want to explore the surrounding area:

Other nearby state parks

The main lake

Grundy Lakes [LK] [BK] [A]

10 min from Foster Falls | Directions

This spot has a beautiful series of lakes. The main lake is large and has a nice swimming dock. It was formerly a site of ‘coke ovens', where coal was refined to be sold to Chattanooga industrial plants, and you can still see them in the hillside (now they look like beautiful hobbit houses!). There’s a nice loop to drive around the lakes.

Day loop trail

Grundy Forest [BK]

15 min from Foster Falls | Directions

The day loop trail at Grundy Forest (about 2 miles) is my favorite day hike in the area. Beautiful streams, waterfalls, rock outcroppings, and a 500+ year-old hemlock tree. Some portions of the trail are a bit narrow/steep, but big kids can navigate it.

Denny Cove

5 min from Foster Falls | Directions

Denny Cove is sort of like “Foster Falls, part 2.” It’s pretty hard to max out on Foster Falls in one weekend, but if you want to seek out another great climbing wall or see another waterfall, Denny Cove is a good option. (The trail is pretty treacherous once you get close to the falls, FYI.)

South Cumberland State Park Visitors’ Center [LK] [BK] [A]

20 min from Foster Falls | Directions

Good option if it’s rainy or if you’re outsided-out. The visitors’ center has some interesting educational exhibits about native wildlife and the area’s history. Exhibits are geared somewhat toward kids (or kids-at-heart). There’s a neat microscope you can use to look at lichen, snake skin, etc.

Other nearby attractions/places to eat

If it’s raining, or you don’t feel like cooking, or you want to explore the area further, there are some great options:

Mooney’s/Crescent Cafe

25 min from Foster Falls | Directions

Crescent Cafe

Crescent Cafe is an awesome stationary vegetarian/vegan food truck, open from 11:00am - 3:00pm every day. The menu changes daily, but there’s always at least one salad, soup, and wrap to choose from. They also have smoothies, and there’s always a GF option. Next door is Mooney’s, a neat little grocery/craft store that has tons of vegan snack foods for sale (plus an assortment of other interesting/kitchy stuff). You have to climb a few stairs to get to the cafe, and there isn’t any indoor seating (FYI in case of inclement weather).

Mi Casa

25 min from Foster Falls | Directions

Great little Mexican place! Rice and beans are vegan. I typically get the veggie fajitas, no dairy, plus a large order of the casero (chunky homestyle guac). This place is very good, and you can get a ton of food for a reasonable price.

Dutch Maid Bakery

10 min from Foster Falls | Directions

This place looks adorable from the outside, but I haven’t been in yet. It was founded in 1902 by Swiss immigrants and is known for having tasty baked goods and a fun old-timey vibe. They will likely have vegan breads, but probably not vegan pastries, etc.

Mountain Goat Market

Mountain Goat Market

20 min from Foster Falls | Directions

This is a cute little grocery/market that has lots of snacks, as well as grab-and-go and made-to-order food. It isn’t exceptionally vegan-friendly, but a meal can certainly be made by getting a little creative with modifying their sandwiches or pizza. It’s a cute place, and might be worth checking out if you’re interested in coffee, snacks, or knick-knacks.

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