Colditz Cove State Natural Area
A 60′ waterfall with a roughly 2 mile hiking trail
Address: 2552 Northrup Falls Rd, Jamestown, TN
Coordinates: 36.35750, -84.86894
At a glance: Roughly 2 mile hiking trail with 60′ waterfall, bluff views and “rock houses” (shallow, open cave-like structures). Open to the public sunrise to sunset. Parking. Swimming. Pets allowed if leashed at all times.
No Hunting, fishing, or camping. No handicap accessible.
Local insight: If you are traveling on I-40 and taking the Monterey exit (301), you will reach Clarkrange shortly before your destination. This is a small town but still a great place to stop and grab a bite to eat or shop before or after your adventure. Rural, mostly flat, known as horse country, this is a very beautiful area. Technically, Northrup Falls is right outside Allardt, a small town and home of giant pumpkins.
*Photos below were taken November 1, 2021 when autumn leaves were almost at their peak. You will want to plan your trip within the first couple weeks of November if you want to see the autumn leaves. Temps are mild and within 50-65 degree range.
Located in Colditz Cove State Natural Area, a 165-acre natural area, in Jamestown, Tennessee.
Not as well known (until now 🙂) but definitely worth checking out.
Northrup Falls Trail is a roughly 2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail. Plunging 60+ feet over a protruding rock ledge into a scenic, narrow, gorge along Big Branch Creek, this waterfall was named after the family who settled here and operated a mill above the falls in the 1800s.
These high cliffs and shallow, open cave-like structures at the falls were once used by cliff-dwelling Woodland Indians 3,000+ years ago. They primarily used these shelters during hunting season.
The parking lot is not very large and easy to miss especially in the summer when leaves are thick. Look for the Colditz Cove State Natural Area sign shortly after turning onto Northrup Fall Road.
What to Expect
This is a relatively easy trail although it is not handicap accessible. The first part of the trail winds through the wooded area. You will eventually reach a mostly cleared area with creek. Continue straight until you reach the bluffs. At this point, you can go right or left because the trail loops.
It can be muddy and slick especially when passing through and under the rock houses. There are also several large rocks along the pathway that must be used as stepping stones – we highly recommend waterproof hiking boots.
It feels a lot like a jungle with thick trees and plantings. Please note: Parents should keep kids close – there are very high and totally unrestricted bluff views with extremely steep drops. While you can get all the way to the edge, notice the edge can be slick due to fallen leaves and unstable due to erosion. There is nothing to break your fall, and large rocks are below.
Top of Waterfall + Bridge
This is a dog-friendly trail too. With the pool and flowing shallow creek at the top, it’s a great place for man’s best friend.
Guests can view the top of the waterfall or venture down to the bottom. You may take the path over the bridge or go to the left.
Pathway + Trail
The paths can seem misleading so stick to the path that is most cleared. Tip: look for white markings and tags on the trees to stay on track. It may be easy to lose the trail during summer months.
Once you hear the waterfall and get to the bluffs, you can go to the right or left. If you go to the left, know that the trail to the waterfall is a sharp right and can seem hidden. There is no need to go down the steep hill.
If you go to the right, you will cross over the bridge and wind down to the waterfall. The trail loops, and it is worth taking the entire loop. Each side is very scenic and different.
The pathways following the ‘rock houses’ (shallow cave-like structures) are the most challenging part of this trail. There is water run off from the bluffs above so they are slick and muddy. As you get closer to the waterfall, the rocks are larger so be prepared to climb and crawl.
The ‘rock houses’ surrounding the waterfall are deep enough to offer amphitheater-like seating in the sunlight.
The 60′ waterfall plunges over a ledge into a pool which is great for swimming. The pool is not that wide or deep, but this place is mostly remote so doesn’t see a lot of traffic. It’s a great place to spend a day.
From I-40 near Crossville, Tennessee, take Highway 127 north toward Jamestown. Before getting to Jamestown, turn right on State Route 296 east, toward the town of Allardt. In Allardt, take State Route 52 east. Just outside of town, but still within a residential area, turn right on Northrup Falls Road (County Road 1636). The sign for Colditz Cove State Natural Area is on the right about one mile down Northrup Falls Road.
Contact / Management:
Pickett State Park, 4605 Pickett Park Highway, Jamestown, TN 38556, phone (931) 879-5821; Division of Natural Areas – East TN Office, 3711 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, TN 37921, phone (865) 594-5601; Division of Natural Areas, William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower, 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 2nd Floor, Nashville, TN 37243, phone (615) 532-0431.
Interested in Jamestown, Tennessee?