One of the most popular state parks in Tennessee, Cummins falls is the 8th largest waterfall in terms of water volume in Tennessee. It is a scenic spot famous for the beautiful cascading waterfalls viewed from the overlook at the top. It is one of the spots that are worth visiting especially if you are looking for quality time outdoors.
This 306-acre day-use park is situated nine miles north of Cookeville in Jackson County, Tennessee. The state park is named after Cummins Falls which is a 75-foot waterfall located on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River. The park has been a popular destination for the locals of both Jackson and Putnam counties for over 100 years.
The history of Cummins Falls dates back to the time when Indians used the area to hunt buffalo that waded in the river’s shallow areas. The land was awarded as a pension to Sergeant Blackburn in 1790. Sergeant Blackburn was a veteran of the Revolutionary War.
He is the one after whom the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River was named after. In 1825, John Cummins acquired the land and built a mill. The mill became so successful that he made a second one in 1845. From then, Cummins Falls became famous for both commerce and recreation.
Unfortunately, the mill was washed away by flood in 1928 but the falls were already popular due to the cars and paved highways. Although the mill was not rebuilt, it stayed in the Cummins family for more than 180 years before Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation purchased it for resale to the state of Tennessee.
This idyllic but rugged park is open for visits for both adults and children. The overlook on top is the perfect place to admire the waterfalls and picnic. The gorge is a gorgeous area, unaltered by men with rugged terrain.
Both the gorge and waterfall are difficult to access but can be reached on foot. You can venture to the gorge and access the base of the waterfall through a natural trail. You will need a Gorge Access Permit to get into the gorge.
If you want some exercise on your day off or as you vacation, this park is perfect. The hike to get to the base of the waterfall is quite strenuous but worth it. At the base, you can swim and admire the waterfall as you take pics.
This is a light trip since the park is day use only and there are no camping facilities here. Aside from the breathtaking scenery, Cummins Falls State Park is also a place to wade through water, swim, and hang out with your friends as you hike down.
This park offers some strenuous exercises, picnics, swimming, and hiking. You can also pack your gear since the shallow parts of the river are perfect for fishing.
The state park has a range of activities to offer so that you can spend a full day in refreshing nature. There is a designated picnic area above the falls where you can bring your family and friends together for some great outdoor time. The overlook is nearby and can be easily accessed on foot.
You can venture through the gorge to get to the base of the waterfall. It is a strenuous hike that involves wading through water, climbing rocks, and crossing slippery rocks. The hike is worth it since the area under the waterfall is incredibly beautiful.
You will find the picnic area right across the parking lot. This is a primitive picnic area perfect for your reconnection with nature. It has several tables scattered around the old and slightly dilapidated Cummins Family home site. The tables are shaded from the sun. It presents quite a beautiful sight when the daffodils bloom. The yellow flowers blooming around the old cottage set a beautiful backdrop in the spring.
There are no grills or trash cans so remember to pack only what you can carry. After picnicking, you can head over to the overlook that’s just ahead and accessible by foot. There you will enjoy incredible scenes of the big waterfall and the beautiful rocky area below.
The trail serves to take visitors to the base of the waterfall. It runs through the rugged gorge. The route goes to the gorge, through the gorge to the base of the waterfall. This trail is rugged and steep with uneven terrain. This trail has been classified as a strenuous trail.
The trails have notable drops in elevation and will include walking on rocky riverbeds. There are many slippery rocks along the river. The natural trails in this park are very varied and include walking over or beside large rocks, and water obstacles among others. Expect lengthy, winding trails down the gorge to the base of the waterfall. There are wooden fences along the trails but not every part has them.
There will be a lot of bending and ducking so ensure you wear clothing that will protect your knees. Remember to wear water shoes or tennis shoes as you will literally be walking in the water. The gorge and waterfall area are not accessible during seasons of heavy rainfall since there are flash floods and streams that can be very dangerous. You will need a USCG life jacket if you plan to get into the water at the base of the waterfall. Bring your own since the park has a limited supply.
Here are the main trails in this park:
- Waterfall Overlook Trail: It’s a 0.4-mile moderate trail made of natural surface. This trail takes you to the overlook where you will find the park’s most popular feature. The 75-foot waterfall is viewed at the overlook at the end of this trail. It’s worth the visit. It’s a magnificent sight and you might find it crowded due to its popularity.
- Upstream Trail: This half a mile trail is moderate and mainly made of natural surface. It offers access to the areas upstream of the waterfall.
- Delia Bell Meadow Trail: This trail is 3 miles of natural surface. It is classified as moderate and offers an overlook of the Blackburn Fork River.
- Shortcut to Downstream: It’s a 1-mile trail of natural surface that’s classified as Moderate. It takes visitors to the base of the waterfall.
- Downstream Trail: This is 1.5 miles of natural surface. The trail is classified as difficult. This trail goes to the gorge and runs through it. It is rugged and takes you to the base of the waterfall.
Although the Blackburn Fork Scenic River is too shallow for boating, it is a pretty decent place for fishing. You can wade the shallow waters and do some bank fishing for Bluegill and bass. You will also enjoy looking up at the waterfall. The area is quite beautiful with the rocks creating a tranquil atmosphere. If you arrive when it’s not too busy, you will definitely enjoy some refreshing time fishing in an incredibly spectacular setting.
Cummins Falls State Park allows you to come along with your pet. The pet has to be leashed the entire time. So you don’t have to worry about where you will leave your little furry.
Cummins Falls State Park
390 Cummins Falls Lane
Cookeville, TN 38501
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Cummins Falls State Park: