Margarette and Bailey Falls have long been on my waterfall radar. Many if not most of my waterfall-addicted friends shared visits and/or posted photos of these neighboring beauties and, as a result, I had long since decided I needed to go see them for myself. As happens so often with me though, this little trek got overlooked or pushed aside in favor of other trips. I'm a bit like a puppy spotting a squirrel in that regard...I'll have a destination in sight but am easily distracted, on a whim, by other suddenly appearing adventures. I could resist no longer though, and on this dreary winter day I decided to finally jump the border to Tennessee and see for myself what Margarette and Bailey Falls had to offer.
Located just south of Greeneville, these two falls mark the emergence of Dry Creek from the Appalachian wall which marks the boundary of Tennessee and North Carolina. In fact, Dry Creek and its tributaries drain from a rather spectacular ridgeline, known as Firescald Knob, I had just visited the previous summer. The falls are unique from one another in both form as well as ease-of-access. Margarette Falls is the larger of the two and is reached by following a marked and well-maintained trail. The hike to Margarette checks in at around 1.5-miles one-way and, despite a few rugged sections, is a hike I can comfortably recommend for most individuals of even modest hiking expertise. Bailey Falls, on the other hand, is another matter altogether to get to. Bailey Falls is smaller than Margarette but its not its size that makes it the beauty it is. Located at the tight end of a slot canyon created by layers of pancaked, slanting rock Bailey Falls is magnificent in its setting not its size. Getting to Bailey, however, is the hitch. It's NOT for beginner hikers. If you're not comfortable scrambling steep slopes and engaging in extended creek-walks, you should just stick to Margarette. If you're a bit more seasoned waterfaller, however, I highly recommend the extra quarter-mile round trip. To reach Bailey you need to scale the steep slope to the river-left of Margarette Falls and reach the stream just above it. Once at the stream the rest of the route is a creek-walk. It's not difficult (this isn't a high-volume stream most times), and the only point of confusion might come about a tenth of a mile above Margarette where the stream forks. Continue to follow the left fork upstream and before long you'll enter the narrow canyon containing Bailey Falls. It a setting quite unlike any other I've experienced in my waterfall hunting years. I'm, in fact, hard pressed to say which waterfall on this hike I enjoyed more...each has its own distinct and magnificent beauty.
So, without further adieu, I present two of Northeast Tennessee's finest waterfall destinations (at least, that I've been to as-of-yet)...Margarette and Bailey Falls. As always...ENJOY!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 36.071011, -82.718388
Mileage Hiked: 3.2 miles Hike Duration: 2:30
Trailhead Temp: 65'F Trail Traffic: 5-10 people
Min. Elevation: 1,840' Max. Elevation: 2,680'
Total Vertical Gain: 850' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 531' (approach)