There is an abundance of hidden gems in every country – if only you know where to look (they are hidden after all). One of Tennessee’s hidden gems is Cummins Falls on the Blackburn Fork River, now part of the Cummins Falls State Park. Tennessee is a stunning state with plenty more to see with everything from the Appalachian mountains and tp Nashville (the country music capital of the world).
Out in the Southwest, one of the most stunning hidden waterfalls is the Havasu Falls near the Grand Canyon in the Havasupai tribal lands. The largest waterfall in the world is the Victoria Falls in Southern Africa – there, one can see elephants, hippos, and crocodiles. Waterfalls are one of the most mesmerizing natural attractions – they capture the imagination and often offer great swimming holes.
Cummins Falls – One Of The Hidden Gems Of Tennessee
Cummins Falls is the eighth-largest waterfall in Tennessee. The waterfall falls some 75 feet in two drops. The first drop on the waterfall plunges down 50 feet and forms a shallow pool. The second falls a further 25 feet and ends in a deeper and larger pool.
- Height: 75 Feet or 23 Meters (In Two Plunges)
- Pools: A Superb Swimming Hole Is At The Bottom
The final pool is a favorite for swimming and is considered one of the best swimming holes in the United States. It was included in the top ten list of best swimming holes in the country by the Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast magazines.
Visiting The Cummins Falls State Park
The waterfall is protected in the Cummins Falls State Park and covers around 306 acres. The Cummins Falls State Park is a day-use area and is located nine miles north of Cookeville.
The land was owned by the Cummins family since 1825 until the TennGreen Land Conservancy (formerly known as the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation) designated it a public park in 2011.
- Established: 2011
- Size: Around 306 Acres
If one is planning to visit, check for current updates as the area is subject to seasonal closure in times of bad weather. Dogs are permitted in the state park but must be kept on a leash.
- Park Hours: 8.00 am to 6.00 pm (in-season) and 4.30 pm (off-season)
- Gorge Hours: The Gorge Area Closes At 5.00 pm In-Season
Above the falls are the main parking area, restrooms, trail heads, and a designated picnic area. It is easy to get to the overlook from the parking lot.
The Cummins Falls Trail & Permits
There is a 3-mile or 4.8 km out and back trail to the falls, and it is very popular for hiking. The Cummins Falls Trail is considered a moderately challenging route, and the Tennessee State Park calls it “a strenuous and physical activity.” The trail is open year-round and makes for a great day out.
- Duration: Average 1 Hour 20 Minutes
- Length: 3 Miles or 4.8 Km
- Elevation Gain: 450 feet or 138 meters
There are a total of two routes to get down into the gorge. One of them is around a mile long, and the other is around 1.5 miles. Both of these trails are steep and have significant elevation drops. Perhaps go down on one trail and back up again on the other.
The trails can be slippery in the gorge and around the waterfall, so it’s best to wear sturdy shoes.
- Permit: Requires A Gorge Access Permit For The Base Of The Falls
While it is free to enter the park and see the waterfall from an overlook, a permit is needed to get to the base of the waterfall or even go into the gorge. The Gorge Access Permits can be purchased online. Two hundred are available each day, and they cost $6.00 plus taxes.
Flash flooding can occur in this area. Hikers also need to cross the river at one point, so consider wearing water shoes or just be ready to take one’s shoes off. Remember, hikers will need to cross the rivers again on the way back – so watch out for rain and flash flooding.
The gorge area is untouched and rugged, and it is a great place to go and explore. Unfortunately, while families can enjoy viewing the falls from the lookout, the trails may be a bit too much for smaller children.