The preserve is situated around a complex of small sandstone canyons in the upper portion of the Cane Creek watershed of the Tennessee River basin. The area has rugged topography that includes a number of waterfalls, creek cascades, boulder fields, and rock shelters. The hiking trail that descends to the main Cane Creek Canyon has approximately 350 feet of elevation change from ridge top to creek level. It is listed as "moderate" in difficulty. 15 miles of marked and maintained hiking trails lead the hiker to scenic canyon overlooks, rich wildflower areas, creek access points, pioneer cabin sites, and other natural, cultural and archeological features.