One of Tennessee’s most beloved day-use parks, Cummins Falls offers an adventurous, but serene, journey into the heart of the state’s eighth-largest waterfall (in volume). Flanked to the west, south, and east by Blackburn Fork Scenic River, the park features a small, interconnected series of short, but rugged trails. The trails aren’t improved, so mix-and-match your way to the overlook and/or base of the falls. Portions of the main hike include wading, as does a shortcut across a stream that connects the overlook trail to a slightly longer river trail.
What Makes It Great
Cummins Falls State Park gives visitors just the right balance of intensity and calm, with a simple web of trails that don’t last long, but present a constant series of balance challenges along the way. The gorge is beautiful, but rugged—worth the effort if you are ready for it!
Start your day at the Waterfalls Overlook trailhead, accessible from the main entrance road. The overlook for the waterfall is less than a half-mile hike. For a longer trek, take the 1.5-mile Downstream Trail into the gorge. Once at the bottom of the waterfall, you can jump in and swim around, but life jackets are strongly recommended.
The trails are natural surfaces, and involve climbing and scrambling on steep surfaces and slippery rocks. It’s a super fun adventure if you come prepared, and the payoff of getting up close with the falls is ideal for a hot summer day.
Who is Going to Love It
A great challenge for intermediate and beginning hikers who want to put their legs to the test with uneven surfaces throughout the trails, this park isn’t recommended for hikers with limited mobility or families with children. Sure-footed visitors who want to test their mettle both in the water and on land will enjoy this brief, wet hike and its breathtaking views.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Cummins Mill Road, take a left onto Blackburn Fork Road and another left onto Cummins Mill Entrance Road, which leads to the picnic area; follow parking signs. The overlook and downstream trail are both accessible from the main road.
Written by Amy Lynch for RootsRated in partnership with BCBS of Tennessee.
Featured image provided by Brenton Rogers