Early fall is one of the best seasons for a hike. The weather mellows down with no more extreme heat spikes and the cold weather is still a while away. For outdoor lovers in Tennessee and those traveling or vacationing in this area, Cummins Falls is a must see. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, do note that the area is unaltered and not an improved trail.
Cummins Falls, top 10 swimming hole in the USA
According to a documentary aired on National Geographic the Cummins Falls Gorge is one of the top USA secret swimming holes. Though the hike is difficult, the view from here is one to remember.
For those brave enough to take a swim in the hole, it’s important to remember that:
- – checking the weather is important before planning a trip
- – the state park recommends USCG approved life jackets for getting in the water below the falls
- – while the park does have a supply of life jackets, in full season you might find yourself without one if you don’t bring your own
- – stretching is always recommended before taking a swim
- – consuming alcohol or other intoxicating substances before swimming is strictly prohibited
- – pool floats are not allowed in the plunge pull below the waterfall
- – don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are in danger or witness an accident
Cummins Falls, a short history
This newly opened hike trail is not only a place of beauty and wonder, it also hides rich history. The area was at one point used by Indians to track buffalo in the river’s shallow areas.
The waterfall became private land in 1790 when it was awarded to Sergeant Blackburn, veteran of the Revolutionary War. It became the propriety of John Cummins, whose name it barrows in 1825. It was used for powering to water mills that were later washed away by a flood in 1928.
After 180 years in the propriety of the Cummins family, the waterfall and its adjacent terrain were sold to the Greenways Fundation and resold to the state of Tennessee.
At the moment, Cummins Falls State Park is a 211 acre day use park that is situated north of Cookeville, on the Blackburn Fork River.
How to reach Cummins Falls State Park
1 From Knoxville, take I-40 west to exit 280 then follow TN-56 direction north for 7.7 miles.
2 You will then have to turn right on TN-290 and go almost a mile before turning left on Cummins Mill Road 2.9 miles.
3 Finally, turn left on Blackburn Fork Road for 0.2 miles and you reach your destination.
The park is well marked from the interstate, so it’s hard to miss.
Open hours are from 8 AM to 6 PM for the park and from 8 AM to 5 PM for the gorge area.
Hike to the Cummins Falls Gorge
The waterfall is the centrepiece of the state park with the same name and the hike is a 2.5 mile loop. Portions of the hike include wadding the river so advance can be pretty slow.
1 The actual trail starts behind the park’s parking lot kiosk.
2 From the starting point to the waterfall overlook the distance is 0.4 miles.
3 Hikers need to cover another 0.6 miles to the Fork State Scenic River, down a gentle switchback slope.
4 At the river the trail turns left and there is another 0.25 miles to the waterfall itself. This area is nt marked.
While the hike is an unaltered trail, according to this hiking blog , the ranger at Cummins Falls State Park says that in one year and over 100.000 visitors he didn’t have to conduct a single rescue operation.
You can see more photos and 360 degree views of the hike and waterfall on Google Maps.