Favorite Hike Highlight: Cummins Falls
Updated: Jan 25
CUMMINS FALLS STATE PARK - COOKEVILLE, TN - WATERFALL HIKE
We love waterfall hikes!
There is nothing quite as rewarding as taking a long hike to reach a waterfall. Cummins Falls in central Tennessee is a must see waterfall. It's not just the waterfall, which itself is epic at 75 feet with rolling cascades of rocks and pools: its the approach to the waterfall that makes it unique. The hike starts off pretty normal, dirt and gravel path with some stairs. It's not an easy trail, so fair warning. To get to Cummins Falls you hike through a gorge taking you up the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River. Hiking through the gorge and sometimes having to traverse the water to get to the waterfall at the end feels very different than most waterfall hikes.
Water, water, and more water is the theme of this hike. We recommend wearing water shoes, our Chacos definitely earned their soles. Also its a good idea to bring lunch, there are some great places to picnic. We highly recommend picnicking before or after you get to the falls since they can be quite crowded.
There was a fair share of wildlife, some more pleasant to see that others. We did not capture any images of the snakes that we saw hiding under boulders, and yes they were poisonous. Hiker tip: Keep your feet out of crevices with a good foot of visibility to avoid striking distances. We know this sounds scary, but most creatures would rather avoid you so it's important to know how to avoid them.
We saw a few people fishing and definitely spotted some rainbow perch in the water!
The pool at the base of the falls is very chilly and refreshing with boulders all around to scramble on, picnic on, and sun bath on to dry off. The last rock ledge was so much fun to walk on or stand underneath and let the waterfall cascade over you. It's by no means as powerful a flow as the top tier of the falls but it was plenty powerful enough!
The gorge hike is the new path. Some of our friends who were locals let us know that the original path included a more rock climbing approach with a rope. The new path is much safer, but we found the old path and tried it. No Rope. It involved lots of rock scrambling and maybe a few tears, where one of us realized they were more like a mountain goat and the other a lizard. We'll let you figure out who was what. *wink* Nevertheless now that experience is a part of our adventure at Cummins Falls. If you look for the path you may see it, but let's be clear, we DO NOT recommend taking this way.
Cummins Falls really is a magical place. It can get crowded but recently the park has implemented a required gorge day pass. It limits the amount of people into the park to help with crowds. We have never used this pass but from what we understand its a good idea to acquire one ASAP, this is no longer a drop in spot as it once was years ago but its well worth the extra planning to make it to this amazing place.
Visit Cummins Falls - https://tnstateparks.com/parks/cummins-falls
Before you visit Cummins Falls, please note:
Gorge Access Permit required to visit the base of the waterfall.
The base of the waterfall is only accessible on fair-weather days.
Cummins Falls is a natural area with inherent safety risks.
The gorge is prone to flash flooding.
Visiting the gorge is a very strenuous and physical activity.
You should comply with the park’s safety instructions.
We recommend that children 5 and under not go to the falls.
Children under 12 must wear life vests at falls and be accompanied by an adult.
Visiting the waterfall will require:
Swimming or wading through water
Crossing Slippery Rocks