Hiking Cummins Falls State Park (Cookeville, TN) - Outdoor Motives (2022)

Hiking to Cummins Falls, near Cookeville, is something you should definitely do if you live in or are visiting the Middle Tennessee area. Cummins Falls is a 282 acre day-use only state park about 9 miles north of Cookeville in middle Tennessee. People in this area have been using the swimming hole below the falls for over a 100 years, but it was a well kept secret for a long time.

Eventually, people heard about about the beauty of Cummins Falls and the secret got out. Then in 2011, the land was purchased and officially turned into a state park. It is generally heavily trafficked, especially on nice days.

Hiking Cummins Falls State Park

  • Blackburn Fork River Trail: .55 miles (downstream trail)
  • Blackburn Fork Trail Direct: .30 miles
  • Falls Overlook Trail: .45 miles
  • John Cummins Trail: .55 miles
  • Terrain: Gravel and dirt
  • Features: 75′ Waterfall, overlooks, picnic tables, Blackburn Fork River
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Hiking Cummins Falls State Park (Cookeville, TN) - Outdoor Motives (1)

You’ve got a few trail options but they all are heading to one of two places, towards the falls overlook or towards the downstream trail that leads to the base of the falls. I took my kids there today and we hiked the falls overlook trail and the Blackburn Fork River trail. We hiked the downstream trail all the way to the river and turned back there. Past here you need water shoes and we weren’t dressed for walking in water.

The approximately 2 mile roundtrip hike took us a little more than an hour to hike from the parking lot area to the trailhead, on to the falls overlook, down the downstream trail to the river, then back the way we came. You can actually take some shortcuts in various places because it’s kind of a hairpin out and back trail, at least the way we did it was. We weren’t really in a hurry and took our time while I snapped several pictures along the way.

Here is the hike we did:

The falls overlook trail – .45 mile
The Blackburn Fork River trail (downstream trail) – .55 mile
Back the same way – 1 mile
Roundtrip – 2 miles

The falls overlook trail then the Blackburn Fork River trail together are exactly a mile. I did both of these and then back the same way. This is one option for a moderate, 2 mile hike that will show you the falls overlook and take you to the river and back.

(Video) Cummins Falls State Park Cookeville Tennessee Hiking / Arlene & Jai - USA

If you look at the map above you can see a .10 mile shortcut you can take on the way back from the river to make it a loop hike. I chose not to take this way back and make it a bit more of a challenge by hiking back by the overlook the same way we came in.

Near the end of the Blackburn Fork River trail is a .2 mile trail that leads you down to the river. This is the most difficult part of the hike. You’ll go down several switchbacks so be careful through here as there is a steep drop-off in several places and the fence rail isn’t always available. Especially if you are passing people and have to move to the other side.

John Cummins Trail

I have not hiked this trail yet so I can’t comment to anything specific. You can see on the map though that this trail is the same length as the falls overlook trail and will still take you to the overlook to see the falls. It runs parallel to and a little bit south of the falls overlook trail.

Falls overlook trail

We took this trail first, it heads straight to the waterfall overlook as the name suggests. This trail is .45 miles long and runs between the John Cummins trail to the south, and the Blackburn Fork River trail to the north. All three trails meet at the overlook. From the overlook you have a few options. You can head back on the way you came to the parking lot and call it a day. Take the John Cummins trail back to the parking lot. Or continue on towards the river on the Blackburn Fork River trail.

Blackburn Fork River trail

This trail starts at the overlook and goes all the way to the river. The hike is bit tougher than the falls overlook trail hike. It’s still a pretty moderate hike though. There are some switchbacks leading down to the river that make a good workout on the way back up. Be careful on the way down these, the ground is bumpy with rocks and roots and there’s a steep drop-off.

This last section of this trail will likely also be the most trafficked part of the hike on a nice warm day. From here you hike upriver all the way to the falls, and the swimming hole at the base. Lots of people swim here in the summer and those hikers may not be hiking the other trails. Most of them probably just came to swim. There are some narrow trails going downhill, so be safe.

The hike to the base of Cummins Falls

This hike starts after you’ve done the Blackburn Fork River trail to the river. This is where you will need some water shoes. You are going to hike through the river in many spots and being barefoot just won’t work out well. They sell (or maybe rent?) water shoes at the Old Mill store across from the entrance, but they are very flimsy looking (see picture bottom of post).

I went cheap and tried to use some flimsy water shoes when hiking the narrows in Zion National Park, it was a terrible experience. My friend had done that hike and wore some waterproof hiking sandals, he was kind enough to let me wear them on the hike back and they were great. I would highly recommend those for hiking through the river to the Cummins swimming hole.

Anyway, the hike to the falls runs back along the same path as the Blackburn Fork River trail, you’re just now hiking in the river. You’ll hike just over half a mile to get back to the falls. Last time I did this hike there were places you could walk on the bank and places you had to walk through the water. It wasn’t a difficult hike and I had my kids with me. You might consider some hiking poles as well to keep your balance in the river.

(Video) 5 Activities You Can't Miss at Cummins Falls State Park

The swimming hole at the end of the hike is great to cool off on a hot day. It’s almost always going to be crowded here on a warm day, but don’t let that stop you from taking a dip in one of the most popular swimming holes in middle Tennessee.

If it has recently been raining, do not attempt to hike through the water. People have died at Cummins more than once due to the currents and flooding after rains.

Who is this hike for?

You’ll see families, couples, lone hikers, dogs, and even some babies in carrier backpacks. On a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon, we saw all different types of people of varying ages hiking at Cummins Falls.

I would only warn to be careful on the hike down to the river if you are out of shape, elderly, are bringing small children without a carrier, or are disabled.

Hiking Cummins Falls State Park (Cookeville, TN) - Outdoor Motives (11)

Cummins Falls hours and location

As I’ve mentioned, Cummins Falls is a day use park only. There is a gate at the entrance that closes when the park closes. The park hours are below and this is quoted directly from the tnstateparks website.

Park Hours are 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM. The gorge area closes at 5:00 PM. People at the bottom of the waterfall must start walking out at 5:00 PM in order to get back to the parking lot and be out of the park by 6:00 PM.

(Video) Cummins Falls State Park

Cummins Falls is located about 9 miles north of Cookeville at 390 Cummins Falls Lane, Cookeville, TN. How you get there is going to depend on where you are coming from. When you get there though, you’ll see The Old Mill store and gift shop right across from the entrance to the park.

Here you can get ice cream, drinks, sandwiches, and some small Cummins Falls gifts. You can also find water shoes here if you plan on making the hike through the river to the swimming hole at the base of the falls. You may want to bring your own water shoes though, some old tennis shoes will work or better yet some hiking sandals like I linked to above are best.

The store does not have public bathrooms, so use the bathrooms at the park before you leave. Behind the store is a campground suitable for RV’s, has a restroom building you can use and some play areas for kids.

Get Directions

Hiking Cummins Falls State Park (Cookeville, TN) - Outdoor Motives (12)

Here are some other great hikes in the middle Tennessee area

  • Hiking at Burgess Falls
  • 5 waterfall hikes near Cookeville Tennessee
  • Hiking to Virgin Falls

FAQs

How difficult is the Cummins Falls hike? ›

Experience this 3.0-mile out-and-back trail near Bloomington Springs, Tennessee. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 1 h 20 min to complete. This is a very popular area for hiking, so you'll likely encounter other people while exploring.

How long does it take to hike Cummins Falls? ›

The Hike to the Falls. Just a few yards from the parking area is the beginning of the trail. Expect the hike to the falls to take you around 45 minutes. Experienced hikers may be able to make it faster.

What do you wear to Cummins Falls? ›

You really need to wear swim shoes or some old shoes you can get wet. Those shoes need to have good treads and be sturdy because the falls are somewhat dangerous. The rocks are slippery. It would be very easy to slip and crack your head open.

Do you need tickets to go to Cummins Falls? ›

Gorge Access Permits are required for anyone who wishes to enter the gorge or access the base of the waterfall. Please note: No refunds, exchanges, date transfers, or rain checks will be issued for permits. If notified before the date of use, we can transfer the date.

How deep is the water at Cummins Falls? ›

The gorge is only 200 feet deep, and the route is well-marked with new signs. The descent is marked by a few gentle switchbacks, and portions of the trail are still raw and somewhat mud-prone.

How much does it cost to get into Cummins Falls? ›

Yes there is now $6 fee to go down to the bottom of the waterfall can only be used on the day you choose can not be refunded or transferred to another date if they closed due to weather or any other reason. over a year ago. No fees to park and no fees to see the falls.

What is the largest waterfall in Tennessee? ›

Fall Creek Falls State Park is the most-visited state park in the state and for good reason – it's the home of the tallest waterfall in the state of Tennessee.

How many waterfalls are in Tennessee? ›

'Tennessee Landforms' lists 874 waterfalls in Tennessee. While a vast majority of these are small and a great number are on private property, there are plenty of majestic spots for the public to enjoy, including more than 80 at Tennessee State Parks.

How long is the hike to Greeter Falls? ›

Greeter Falls Loop Trail - 0.80 Miles - Intermediate - One of the best short waterfall hikes on the plateau, this loop leads to three waterfalls, numerous bluffs, and a historic site. The terrain is very rocky under the bluffs and easy above. The trail begins across the entrance road from the Greeter Falls parking lot.

Is Cummins Falls still closed? ›

The gorge area and trail to the bottom of the falls is open with a permit today.

Can you see Burgess Falls without hiking? ›

Not only can you drive to and hike Burgess Falls, it's also accessible by water. Kayak, boat or ride jet skis to the bottom of this giant waterfall (130+ feet actually). Regardless of where you are at, the view is amazing.

Can you swim at Rutledge Falls? ›

Beautiful, natural area for hiking, picnicking, swimming in ice-cold water.

Which is better Burgess Falls or Cummins Falls? ›

Pretty waterfall but watch the "FATAL shortcut" If you had a choice of this fall or Burgess falls, choose Burgess as it is much easier to get to-shorter distance to falls... much safer...and prettier with higher volume of water.

Where is Cummins Falls located? ›

Cummins Falls State Park is an idyllic, but rugged, 306-acre day-use park located nine miles north of Cookeville on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River on the Eastern Highland Rim.

Is Radnor Lake State Park open? ›

Hours. The Park is open from 6:00 AM to 20 min after sunset year-round, including all holidays.

Can you take dogs to Cummins Falls? ›

There were dogs on trail & swimming at falls.. If dog is small you may have to carry him over the large rocks. over a year ago. Yes and no.

Can you fish at Cummins Falls? ›

About Cummins Falls

The most popular species caught here are Smallmouth bass, Rock bass, and Black crappie. 35 catches are logged on Fishbrain. Please use your best judgement when determining where you can fish, and make sure you follow local regulations.

Can you swim in Tennessee waterfalls? ›

Cummins Falls, Cookeville, TN: Cummins Falls State Park is home to Tennessee's eighth-largest waterfall, and has been a favorite swimming spot for locals for many years.

What state has the most waterfalls? ›

Every state except two have waterfalls that would make any nature lover planning a trip and packing a bag. The one state, in particular, that has slightly more waterfalls than any other is Washington - with its neighbor, Oregon, being a close second.

What city has the most waterfalls? ›

Promoted as the “City of Waterfalls,” Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, located on the banks of Lake Ontario, is home to 156 waterfalls within the city limits, the most to be counted and recorded to date by any individual city in the world.

How long is the hike to Fall Creek Falls in TN? ›

35.0 miles

From two overnight backpacking loops—the Upper Cane Creek Loop (14 miles) and the Lower Cane Creek Loop (13.2 miles)—to moderate 4 mile hiking trails, to easy half-mile strolls, there's something for every hiker at Fall Creek Falls.

What are the names of the waterfalls at Fall Creek Falls? ›

Fall Creek Falls State Park is home to one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States, Fall Creek Falls, measuring at 256 feet in height accompanied with 3 other waterfalls: Cane Creek Falls, Cane Creek Cascades, and Piney Falls.

Is Greeter Falls hike hard? ›

Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 1 h 28 min to complete. This is a very popular area for birding, hiking, and walking, so you'll likely encounter other people while exploring. The best times to visit this trail are March through October.

Can you swim in Greeter Falls? ›

The water under Greeter Falls goes deep; even deep enough for people to cliff jump, although this is illegal. Adventurers can even swim underneath the waterfall and sit comfortably on some of the rocks that lie underneath it. It truly feels like a mermaid lagoon, perfect for hiking, swimming, photography and adventure.

What city is Greeter Falls? ›

The hike begins at the Greeter Falls trailhead (view maps and driving directions) just 45 minutes northwest of Chattanooga. There's almost always ample parking available, even on the most crowded summer days. A map of the park's nearby trail system lies around 100 yards into the trail.

Can you swim in Burgess Falls? ›

Public Notice: Swimming is not allowed at Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area.

How do you get to the bottom of Burgess Falls? ›

It's accessible by water.

While you may see lake-goers at the bottom, there's actually no public boat ramps or canoe/kayak access areas in the park. To get to the waterfall if you're on Center Hill Lake, head to Cookeville Boat Dock, go up the river, when you get to the fork, Burgess Falls is to the left!

How long is the hike to Greeter Falls? ›

Greeter Falls Loop Trail - 0.80 Miles - Intermediate - One of the best short waterfall hikes on the plateau, this loop leads to three waterfalls, numerous bluffs, and a historic site. The terrain is very rocky under the bluffs and easy above. The trail begins across the entrance road from the Greeter Falls parking lot.

Can you swim at Rutledge Falls? ›

Beautiful, natural area for hiking, picnicking, swimming in ice-cold water.

How many waterfalls are in Tennessee? ›

'Tennessee Landforms' lists 874 waterfalls in Tennessee. While a vast majority of these are small and a great number are on private property, there are plenty of majestic spots for the public to enjoy, including more than 80 at Tennessee State Parks.

Hiking to Cummins Falls, near Cookeville, is something you should definitely do if you live in or are visiting the Middle Tennessee area. Cummins Falls is a 282 acre day-use only state park about 9 miles north of Cookeville in middle Tennessee. People in this area have been using the swimming hole b...

People in this area have been using the swimming hole below the falls for over a 100 years, but it was a well kept secret for a long time.. Blackburn Fork River Trail: .55 miles (downstream trail) Blackburn Fork Trail Direct: .30 miles Falls Overlook Trail: .45 miles John Cummins Trail: .55 miles Terrain: Gravel and dirt Features: 75′ Waterfall, overlooks, picnic tables, Blackburn Fork River Difficulty: Easy/Moderate. You’ve got a few trail options but they all are heading to one of two places, towards the falls overlook or towards the downstream trail that leads to the base of the falls.. I took my kids there today and we hiked the falls overlook trail and the Blackburn Fork River trail.. We hiked the downstream trail all the way to the river and turned back there.. The approximately 2 mile roundtrip hike took us a little more than an hour to hike from the parking lot area to the trailhead, on to the falls overlook, down the downstream trail to the river, then back the way we came.. The falls overlook trail then the Blackburn Fork River trail together are exactly a mile.. This is one option for a moderate, 2 mile hike that will show you the falls overlook and take you to the river and back.. Lots of people swim here in the summer and those hikers may not be hiking the other trails.. water shoes at the Old Mill store across from the entrance, but they are very flimsy looking (see picture bottom of post).. Anyway, the hike to the falls runs back along the same path as the Blackburn Fork River trail, you’re just now hiking in the river.. You’ll hike just over half a mile to get back to the falls.. The swimming hole at the end of the hike is great to cool off on a hot day.. You can also find water shoes here if you plan on making the hike through the river to the swimming hole at the base of the falls.. You may want to bring your own water shoes though, some old tennis shoes will work or better yet some hiking sandals like I linked to above are best.

If you're in the Upper Cumberland and looking for some waterfall hikes near Cookeville, TN this article is for you. Here are my favorites!

If you are looking for waterfall hikes near Cookeville, I have taken the time to list out 5 of my favorites within a short drive.. As you can see from the picture above, there is a beautiful cascading waterfall and a rather large swimming hole.. Hikes The main hike to the falls and swimming area is through the river.. The water is not too high usually but if it has rained recently and the water is fast, then please skip it.. Hikes The main hike down to the lookout point and the falls is relatively easy and good for kids in my opinion.. Once you have made your way down and back up past the lookout again, you can either go all the way back the way you came or opt for a gravel road that leads straight back to the parking lot.. Hikes The park is home to 56 miles of hiking trails of varying lengths from easy to strenuous.. There are a total of 14 trails ranging from a 14 mile overnight trail to a .2 mile easy walk.. Overview Virgin Falls State Natural Area actually has 2 large waterfalls and a couple of other smaller ones.. twin falls at Rock Island State Park Distance from Cookeville – 40 – 45 min

Virgin Falls is a wonderful hike rated strenuous in Middle Tennessee and comes in at just under 9 miles round trip.

There are 2 main waterfalls, Big Laurel Falls at about the halfway point, and the main falls (Virgin Falls) after about 4.3 miles.. Or take a short hike up above the falls and see the source, a dark cave plenty big for you to walk into if you wanted.source cave for the main falls. Cummins Falls is maybe 1.5 hours or so from Virgin Falls.. The last time I hiked Virgin Falls there was an older guy in our group with bad knees and he was struggling a little bit.. There are many awesome waterfall hikes in this region of Tennessee including Virgin Falls, Cummins Falls , Fall Creek Falls, Burgess Falls , among others.

If you’ve visited Cummins Falls or Burgess Falls near Cookeville, you’ve experienced their beauty and immensity firsthand. However, you’ve probably also experienced the crowds that can form at these two easily-accessible waterfalls. Many visitors don’t realize that there are about 150 other waterfalls in the Cookeville area, most of which see significantly less traffic than

If you’ve visited Cummins Falls or Burgess Falls near Cookeville, you’ve experienced their beauty and immensity firsthand.. Fall Creek Falls tends to get all the attention at its namesake state park, but Fall Creek Falls State Park , located less than an hour from Cookeville, is home to another impressive waterfall.. At 85 feet, Cane Creek Falls isn’t quite as high as Fall Creek Falls but has a much higher volume of water flowing over its ledge.. Upper Pine Falls in the Piney Falls State Natural Area forms where Little Piney Creek plunges 80 feet into a deep gorge known as “The Grand Canyon of the Cumberland Plateau.” The 3.5-mile round-trip hike is partially on an old, unpaved road, which winds through an old growth forest of tulip poplars, hemlock trees, and white pines that can tower nearly 100 feet over the landscape.. The trail leads you first to the rim of the falls, where you’ll catch a breathtaking view of the creek gorge, and then down to the base of Upper Piney Falls.. If you’re short on time, make a pit stop at City Lake Falls in the City Lake Natural Area just inside the city limits of Cookeville.. Though by no means a secret, Virgin Falls in the Virgin Falls State Natural Area drops 110 feet, making it one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Tennessee.. Virgin Falls itself is an impressive sight, as the main viewpoint is at the middle of the falls, rather than the base or the top.. This fan-shaped 30-foot waterfall is nestled inside Stinging Fork Falls State Natural Area about an hour and a half southeast of Cookeville.

Plan your next trip to Cookeville, TN and be sure to visit Cummins Falls State Park. Tennessee offers many local attractions and business for you to explore.

Gorge Access Permits are required for anyone who wishes to enter the gorge or access the base of the waterfall.. The gorge area closes at 5:00 PM.. The base of the waterfall is only accessible on fair-weather days.. We recommend that children 5 and under not enter the gorge or visit the base of the waterfall.. Trails and rocks at the waterfall and gorge area are often slippery, so wear sturdy shoes and remember safety first.. Here is what you need to access our maps:. 360 Tour of Falls Read MoreLess Gorge Water Levels Ongoing Alert: Changing water levels in the gorge can result in the sudden closure of the trail access to the base of the waterfall.

Cummins Falls State Park is one of Tennessee's newest state parks (dedicated in 2013), but people have been trekking to the 75 foot high falls for generations. It is not the easiest of swimming holes to get to, but the magnificent falls and swimming hole at the end are enough of a draw that 250,000

Cummins Falls State Park is one of Tennessee's newest state parks (dedicated in 2013), but people have been trekking to the 75 foot high falls and associated swimming hole for generations.. There are signs for the state park along the way and the entrance to the park is well marked from Cummins Mill Rd.. Google Maps can be a little tricky because you must enter Cummins Falls State Park as your destination and not just Cummins Falls.. The trail to the falls is not easy, but it isn't a long hike at 1 mile each way if you take the shortcut trail.. Half of the route is in the Blackburn Fork Scenic River, which requires wading and some scrambling over large rocks.. One goes to John Cummins Trail which leads you to a spot upstream of the falls before heading to an overlook of the falls.. The first part of the shortcut trail has a nice walk in the woods before descending steeply down to the Blackburn Fork Scenic River.. Stairs down to the water.. You cross Blackburn Fork several more times until you get to the Falls and the large swimming hole at the end.. Don't be that person.. Because alcohol + swimming + slippery rocks does not equal good things happening.. Swimming in cold water also has its dangers so be realistic about your ability to hike and enjoy this trail.

Videos

1. Hiking to Cummins Falls/ Josh almost losing his two hundred dollar shoes
(JoAnna Huskey)
2. Great fall tennessee rock island
(mungvanbiak)
3. GSMNP rangers stress water safety after Cummins Falls death
(WBIR Channel 10)
4. VLOG 09 - Cummins Falls & The Nature Girls
(Mason and Jess)
5. Chasing Waterfalls at Fall Creek Falls State Park | Hiking in Tennessee
(Ashley Kaye)
6. Top 3 State Parks in Tennessee
(Moving To Tennessee)

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