Short Springs State Natural Area

April 17, 2012 in Tennessee Hiking Trails by amylaree

Short Springs State Natural Area

You’ve arrived: Short Springs Natural Area


While kiddos were hunting eggs and their folks were chowing down on an Easter ham, we headed out for our own celebration… a nice day in the woods. Between the healing process for Nate’s leg and the garden construction project, our time outdoors has been pretty limited. Fortunately, Easter Sunday gave us a good excuse to blow off house work and instead take a mini-trek to Tullahoma’s Short Springs State Natural Area.


  1. Scenery:  3.0
  2. Difficulty:  2.5
  3. Length:  3.05 miles
  4. Dog Friendly Factor: 5.0
  5. Convenience:  2.5
  6. Bonus Funtimes: 2.0
Bobo Creek at Short Springs State Natural Area

Bobo Creek

Scenery (3.0 out of 5.0): This series of trails provides a nice variety in scenery – with the bonus of the lovely Machine Falls waterfall midway through the hike. The trail is heavily shaded throughout with a canopy of typical Tennessee trees. Skirting along the edge of Bobo Creek throughout the first half of the hike, there are a couple of nice overlooks of Busby Falls.

Midway through the hike we came upon Machine Falls. While the base of this waterfall was a little tricky to get to (no clear path meant we did a fair amount of rock hopping across the creek) the effort was well worth it. Machine Falls is a two-tier fall that’s easy to climb up close to. Coltrane even managed to scramble up some of the larger boulders to get a close look at the falls.

We also ventured out on the Adams Fall Trail loop, but unfortunately that creek and its falls were mostly dry.

Difficulty (2.5 out of 5.0): We definitely got a good workout on this trail, but it doesn’t qualify as overly challenging. The trail path is mostly dirt covered and the various trails are well marked. We started out on the Bobo Creek Trail (also called Busby Falls Trail), joined the Machine Falls trail, then on to the Adams Fall Loop trail loop spur before rejoining Machine Falls trail to get back to the trail head. Check out this map of Short Springs trail options. There are a few hills – one that left us pretty winded, but in general this is a very moderate trail… as long as you don’t have a 90 lb dog trying to pull you through a creek, but more on that later.

If you don’t want to bother with the other trails, there is also a direct trail to Machine Falls that takes you to the top of the waterfall. We saw several families on the top of the falls with kids of various ages.

Ezra at Short Springs State Natural Area

Ezra deftly avoiding a perfectly good bridge.

Length: 3.05 miles

Dog Friendliness (5.0 out of 5.0): After several weeks just walking around the neighborhood, the dogs were plenty pumped to drag us along the Short Springs trails. With frequent access to creeks, this was the perfect outing with the dogs. Ezra’s bridge aversion made for a few comical creek crossings, but other than his bridge neuroses, this was a great trail for the dogs.

The one holdup with the dogs is we weren’t able to go on the Laurel Falls Loop. We crossed the creek to get onto this other trail, but the trail was spotty, very soggy and certainly not conducive for trying to maneuver with the dogs.

Convenience (2.5 out of 5.0): While we found this trail in the 60 within 60 miles book, the trailhead is closer to 80 miles from Nashville. Perhaps the author calculated the distance as the crow flies? Regardless, the directions to the trailhead are very easy to follow and it’s mostly a well-marked drive.

Bonus funtimes (2.0 out of 5.0): Near the base of Machine Falls there’s a wildflower trail, but other than that there’s not a lot to this trail beyond the waterfalls – which are a plenty good reason to hike!


This hike and others found in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Nashville, get your own copy now from