If you and your pooch are relatively fit, then Virgin Falls Trail is a furrific spot for a Fido-friendly hike! Virgin Falls is an eight-mile, out-and-back route near Sparta, TN in Virgin Falls State Natural Area, but it’s nine miles with the side trails, and these detours are certainly worth the extra time. The view from the overlook, about a mile off the main path, is definitely a sight for sore eyes! The hike can be done in a day, but if you don’t want to put yourself under too much pressure, you and your pooch can pitch a tent at Virgin Falls State Campground, or at any of the dispersed campsites along the route. Remember to mark your location and length of stay in the log book at the trailhead! You’ll find ample parking at the trailhead, but popularity varies at different times of the year -- you and your pooch are probably not going to have this trek to yourselves!
If you’re looking for majestic water features in the White County area, it’s hard to beat the Virgin Falls Trail. The path meanders through gorgeous forest, past several stream crossings, and along the Big Branch. The main draw, of course, is the falls -- there are three of them; Big Branch Falls, Laurel Falls, and Virgin Falls. There’s no official trail up to the top of Virgin Falls itself, so if you and your pup want to scramble up the rocks to check it out, you’ll need to do so at your own risk. You’ll definitely want to budget some time to stop and stare -- the subterranean streams and giant cave mouth around Big Laurel Falls are pawticularly mesmerizing!
There’s a sign at the trailhead that marks Virgin Falls as a strenuous hike, and it’s best to take the designation seriously. The way to the top boasts some steep elevation gains, as well as some rocky patches. The stream crossings can be a little difficult when the water is high, so keep your wits about you and be sure to bring sensible footwear. And of course, remember to bring water with you, as well as waste bags to keep the area clean! Amenities are a little scarce -- Virgin Falls State Natural Area is a true wilderness preserve. There aren’t any restrooms at the trailhead, and all camping is primitive. Still, if you and your buddy are athletic enough and don’t mind "ruffing" it, you’re sure to have a fantastic time!