Take the Waterville exit (Exit 451, just inside Tennessee) off I-40 and cross the Pigeon River. Stay to the left after crossing. Follow Waterville Road (SR 1332) for 2 miles to an intersection, passing the Walters Power Plant on the way. The intersection marks the community of Mount Sterling. Go straight on the gravel Big Creek Park Road to enter the Big Creek section of the park. It is 0.9 mile to where the road ends at a picnic area and a campground entrance. Park here. Note that the road to Big Creek is often gated in winter at the 0.2-mile mark.
Begin by walking back up the road a few yards and turning left on Big Creek Trail, an old motor road built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The trail follows an old logging railroad grade. As such, it’s wide and well graded.
In winter or early spring, you might see a waterfall at 1.42 miles dropping into Big Creek on the other side of the gorge. A hundred yards farther, at 1.48 miles, you’ll pass Midnight Hole Falls on Big Creek.
A little over 0.5 mile from Midnight Hole Falls, you’ll reach Mouse Creek Falls. It’s easy to miss, what with the noise of Big Creek and the dense stream-side foliage blocking the view from the trail. Look for a horse-hitching rail on the left and then an opening in the foliage a few feet beyond the rail. Through the opening, you’ll see the waterfall dropping directly into Big Creek.
Mouse Creek Falls is a popular destination for hikers in the Big Creek section of the park. Although the hike is not difficult, it’s long enough to make you feel you’ve accomplished something. The scenery along the way is wonderful, particularly in April when wildflowers carpet the area. You can expect company on this hike most anytime. During the summer and fall tourist season, it can get crowded.
Mouse Creek Falls perfectly demonstrates that a waterfall doesn’t have to be big to make an excellent photo subject. Numerous good compositions are possible from the bank and the edge of Big Creek. Plan to spend some time here.
- Midnight Hole Falls
- Upper Mouse Creek Falls
- West Prong Mouse Creek Falls
- Gunter Fork Falls