Short Springs - Tennessee Natural Area
Date Hiked: 11/13/11
Natural Area: Short Springs
Address: Short Springs Road, Tullahoma, TN
Latitude: 35.40730, Longitude: -86.17456
Trail Rating: moderate
Round-Trip Mileage: Machine Falls, Busby Falls, and Adams Falls trails loop - 3.05 miles. Laurel Bluff adds 1.5 miles
For Map, Trail Mileage, GPS, and Trail Notes go to Page 2
While researching Old Stone Fort State Park, we saw Short Springs Natural Area. We had never visited the Natural Area prior to our hike.
Directions: From I-24 near Manchester, TN, take exit 111, Hwy 55. Go west toward Manchester. Continue straight through Manchester toward Tullahoma - then, turn right onto Belmont Road after 4.7 miles. Cross the train tracks and the Old Highway and continue on Belmont for 1.3 miles - turn left on Rutledge Falls Dr. After 1.5 miles turn right on Rutledge Falls Rd. (Yes, there is a drive and a road given the same name). On Rutledge Falls Rd go 1.9 miles and turn left on Short Springs Rd - there is a market on the corner. Short Springs Natural Area Trailhead is at the junction of Short Springs Rd and Powell Rd in .9 miles. A huge water tank/tower sits adjacent to the parking area. (Modified directions from Google Maps)
Note: We could not find a good way to the Natural Area. The drive was scenic; but required many turns and some of the roads were not signed.
There are no restrooms or water at the trailhead.
From the Trailhead cross Short Springs Rd and enter the woods.
At .10 miles the trails reaches a major junction. A bench and kiosk are at the junction. Machine Falls Trail goes to the right or straight. The longer alternative goes left to Busby Falls (Bobo Creek).
Follow the blue blazed Busby Falls Trail.
In .30 miles is the concrete floor remaining from an old Scout building.
Continuing, it is another .05 miles to a set of wooden stairs leading to Bobo Creek.
To add 1.5 miles to the hike, cross Bobo Creek and climb into a ravine following the purple blazed Laurel Bluff Trail.
Going left at the loop junction, the trail climbs steeply to the top of the ravine.
The trail travels west easily and then skirts another steep ravine.
Following the drainage the trail reaches a point high above the ravines junction with Bobo Creek at .90 miles from the stairs.
After .60 miles return to Bobo Creek and the blue blazed trail. The total distance is 1.5 miles.
Continuing on the Busby Falls, blue blazed, trail - pass unsigned overlooks of Busby Falls on the left. The trail then, curves to the contour of the slope in order to maintain an easy grade.
At .35 miles the trail intersects with The Machine Falls Trail at a small rise.
Go left at the junction on the Machine Falls Trail, white blazed. (Going right returns to the junction .10 miles from the trailhead.)
After .05 miles Machine Falls Trail reaches the Connector Trail, red blazed. The Connector descends to Machine Falls Branch, above the Falls, and then connects with the Machine Falls Trail on the return loop. The Connector Trail is .10 miles one way.
Continuing on the Machine Falls Trail, a short easy walk leads to a steep drop to Machine Falls Branch. Steps make the footing more secure.
At the Branch is a signed trail junction.
The Wildflower Trail is a short loop to the left of the Machine Falls Trail. The Wildflower Trail is .10 miles as it follows the bank of Bobo Creek.
Back at the Branch Junction, the trail to the right leads to the base of Machine Falls.
Use care with the footing. After a short while the trail seems to end and the hiker is left to chose the easiest way along the creek. The Falls is reached in .05 miles. It is spectacular.
Returning to the Branch Junction, Machine Falls Trail crosses the branch on a footbridge and then climbs steadily for .10 miles to the Adams Falls Trail Junction.
Go left taking the orange blazed, Adams Falls Trail. The trail is an easy grade as it curves to meet the ravines.
At .50 miles the trail reaches the Adams Falls sign. The creek is seasonal.
The Falls is a few feet downstream. There does not seem to be a path to the bottom of the Falls. Even in drier seasons seeps flow from the banks.
Leaving the Falls the the trail makes a pleasant return to the trailhead. After crossing Adams Falls Creek a couple of times the easy path heads south to the junction with the Machine Falls Trail in .60 miles.
Go left on Machine Falls Trail and continue the easy grade. (To the right is the first junction with the Adams Falls Trail which is a very short distance away.)
At .20 miles the Machine Falls Trail intersects with the other end of the Connector Trail. A bridge is a short distance downhill.
The Machine Falls Trail crosses beneath power lines (.05 miles) and then continues along the branch for .25 miles.
After crossing the branch (no bridge) the trail climbs what seems to be an old road.
At .15 miles the trail branches off to the right.
At the top of the hill, the trail goes beneath power lines.
Continuing the Trail re-enters the woods and reaches the end of the loop in .30 miles.
Turn left. The trailhead is across the road.
The total Machine Falls, Busby Falls, and Adams Falls trails loop is 3.05 miles.