One of my passions is waterfall hunting or “waterfalling”. There is a something about a waterfall that shows you how powerful nature can be, but also how beautiful it can be at the same time. I have compiled a list of my top 10 favorite waterfalls around the Midwest that I have been to. I am sure there are a lot of other ones that can be added to this list one day when I make the trip, but for now, here is the list. Be sure to click on the link to the original blog post to see more information and an exact location for each waterfall.
Note: Some people have said that the states I chose are not all in the Midwest. Ok I get you. Being from St. Louis, I tend to think that anything within a days drive is the Midwest. Not so. But I hope you enjoy the list anyway. Maybe it should be called “Top 10 Waterfalls within 8 hours of St. Louis”. 🙂
1. Rock Island State Park – Tennessee
While Rock Island State Park is home of the Big Falls on the Caney Fork River, there is a hidden waterfall on the trail down to the gorge that flows freely from the bluff overhead. It is absolutely magical.
2. Starved Rock State Park – Illinois
Starved Rock State Park has about 10 canyons with seasonal waterfalls, but my favorite waterfall is in Wildcat Canyon. This time, we were lucky enough to see a double waterfall. My other favorite waterfall here is in French Canyon.
The Big Falls on the Falling Water River is a waterfall that is not to be missed. Be sure to do the strenuous hike down to the bottom of the falls for an impressive view.
Rutledge Falls is your picture perfect waterfall. This waterfall is on private property though so please be respectful.
5. Old Man’s Cave Upper Falls – Ohio
These falls are part of a beautiful trail system at Hocking Hills State Park. Three other waterfalls are located in this park including the Lower Falls, Broken Rock Falls, and Cedar Falls.
Cataract Falls has an upper and lower falls, but be sure to take the back roads to get an even better view of the falls.
7. Matthiessen State Park – Illinois
This is a really fun park to hike at and after hiking the Upper Dells, you are rewarded at the end with a beautiful waterfall.
Greeter Falls in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area has both and upper and lower falls and of course, there is a spiral staircase in the middle of nowhere to get down to the lower falls.
9. Fall Creek Falls – Tennessee
Fall Creek Falls State Park features the tallest free fall waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Be sure to do the hike down to the bottom of the waterfall!
10. Haw Creek Falls – Arkansas
Haw Creek Falls is not the tallest waterfall, but its’ beautiful setting makes up for it. The water is the most beautiful shade of turquoise.
OK, so I am updating this since I have visited some more waterfalls since I posted this! Bonus Content!
11. Ferne Clyffe State Park – Illinois
This is a beautiful, seasonal waterfall. Be sure to catch this one after a heavy rain!
12. Hickory Canyons Natural Area – Missouri
A short hike leads to a beautiful, seasonal waterfall.
So this waterfall is created by the Lake Kindcaid spillway in southern Illinois. It is beautiful and you can even hike up the side of the waterfall which makes this place so much more amazing. Be sure to check this place out if you are near the Shawnee National Forest.
I hope that this list inspires you to take a trip and see what nature has to offer! If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks!
Wonderful! And you’re back! But, a quibble, Top anything lists should always organize from lowest rank to highest rank, or else there’s no (pardon the pun) cliff hanger as I scroll!
They’re all pretty!! I like Burgess, then Fall Creek, then Rutledge the best. But I like Matthiessen & Rock Island too,
Clifty Falls State Park (Madison, Indiana) has some impressive falls also. This is a great list though! Hard to narrow down to ten. Cumberland Falls (KY) is impressive as well.
Thanks for your comment!! I actually have a trip planned for Clifty Falls in a couple weeks! I am really excited to check it out. And of course Cumberland Falls is on my list 🙂 thanks for the tips!
I was wondering if any of these you can swim in??
Hmm…good question. While none of these have large pool as the bottom, I would say your best bet for swimming would be Rutledge Falls. I remember the water being really cold though! Also, at Rock Island State Park, I saw a lot of people swimming in the small pools of the gorge. Hope this helps!
i havent been to starved rock in 50 years.now i have to go back,thank you
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what about Brandywine falls in Ohio?
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I don’t think I have ever been there!!
I love your blog, it is truly amazing! It’s the best Midwest hiking reference I have seen. I have a request (actually two) – Can you do a Top 10 list of your favorite trails? With a rule you can’t repeat a park – i.e. the trails at Turkey Run can’t be 3 out of the 10. Or maybe Top 10 parks to hike, with a few of the best trails from each park listed? Then can you do a Top 10 list of your favorite park lodges? To me an awesome lodge (Giant City, Pere Marquette, Petit Jean, etc.) really completes the experience and can make you feel like you are in a National Park. Thanks again for all your work here, you’ve given my family and I some great hiking experiences already with a long list to go!
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Wow!! This completely made my day!! Thank you for such kind words!! Yes, totally agree on the top 10! I do have one top 10 list for https://plannedspontaneityhiking.com/2015/01/29/top-10-midwest-waterfalls/
I’ll work on more top 10 lists over the winter when my hiking slows down 🙂