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10Explores: Waterfalls in Frozen Head State Park

Hikers can see both waterfalls in a roughly 3-mile round-trip trek that is rated with an easy to moderate difficulty level.

WARTBURG, Tenn. — Frozen Head State Park covers more than 24,000 acres in Morgan County with several campsites, 50 miles of backpacking and hiking trails and a mountain biking trail leading to the summit of Frozen Head Mountain.

While the area is known for the icy peak of its namesake (and the nearby historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary), the park's trails offer a variety of views including two waterfalls, Debord Falls and Emory Gap Falls. 

Fortunately, hikers can see both in a roughly 3-mile round-trip trek that is rated with an easy to moderate difficulty level. The hike starts at the Panther Branch Trailhead. Debord Falls will be off to the right a little less than a mile into the Panther Branch Trail. There is a viewing platform near the trail and some wooden stairs nearby for those who want to get a closer look.

A short distance beyond Debord Falls, the trail branches. Hikers will want to continue straight onto Emory Gap Trail (going right will continue on Panther Branch Trail). Emory Gap Falls is 0.5 miles up the trail and will take some rock hopping to get close so sturdy shoes are recommended.

The park also hosts the grueling annual Barkley Marathons and has Morgan County's oldest standing settlement house, the Stonecipher-Kelly House. More information about Frozen Head State Park is available on the Tennessee State Parks' website

What to expect on the trail:

Some tips before you visit:

  • Let someone know where you plan to hike, when you plan to be back, what clothes you are wearing and what your car looks like.
  • Wear sunscreen and bug spray.
  • Wear layers depending on the weather.
  • Pack plenty of water and snacks.
  • Keep an eye on the weather.
  • Pick up after your pet.
  • Be courteous to other hikers.
  • Leave the plants and wildlife alone.
  • Have a backup plan if the trail is closed or too busy.

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