Short Springs State Natural Area

Today, I hiked at the teenage Short Springs State Natural Area between Tullahoma and Manchester. The 420 acre natural area is managed by the City of Tullahoma, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Tennessee’s division of Natural Areas. Tullahoma’s water came from here once upon a time before the Normandy Dam project. I haven’t found any other history on the area. Check out the Trail and Topo Map.

Distance: 3.6 miles, mesh trail system
Total Elevation Climb: 260 feet, mainly minor ups and downs
Trail type: varies from single track dirt and rock to old road bed
Temperature: upper 60s, sunshine and clear, blue skies
Time: 2.5 hours, 1 hour of stops
Significant features: waterfalls!!!

First off, the turn off of Highway 55 is not marked at all, so here’s the link for your Google Maps and GPS tinkering. And for directions directly to the parking lot from wherever you are click here.

Once there, I found an extremely well developed system of trails. First, I took the Busby Falls loop which runs down to the falls on Bobo Creek. I crossed the creek, but didn’t go much further. It looked like they were building a trail on the other side (orange flagging tape), but there weren’t any blazes. It’s a pretty area and wasn’t busy at all (great for some solitude). The Busby Falls Loop reconnects with the Machine Falls Loop.

Machine Falls is the main attraction in my opinion. It takes a little rock hopping to get back to it from the trail. It’s worth it. As I got closer, I could see water seeping from between the rocks on my right. A few more steps and I was face to face with it. The falls are about 60 feet tall and almost as wide. I wandered around on the falls for about 30 minutes as there were a number of easy climbs around it. I was in awe of the sheer power needed to create this small wonder. It made me feel really small.

Back on the Machine Falls Loop, (I bypassed the Wildflower Loop since I photographed the only one I had seen thus far) I trekked until I got to the Adams Falls Loop. Note that on the published map, this is a there and back. it just says to me the trail system is still being developed. From the trail, Adams Falls takes some getting to. Since there wasn’t a soul around, I elected not to go bouldering over to it. I was disappointed because I’m sure I missed a treat. I’ll take a hiking partner with me next time.

I got back on the Machine Falls Loop which brought me around to the trail head by Short Springs Road. I’ll rate this a 3.5 out of 5 on the Bryan scale. I’ll definitely remember this place.

Download the Google Earth track