Cummins Falls, Tennessee

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Cummins Falls in November 2017

When I visited Tennessee about eight years ago, Cummins Falls was off limits. If I remember correctly, a young man had died after slipping off the cliffs. I couldn’t even find where one might park and there was orange fencing blocking off the area. That has definitely changed. Now there’s a state park designated for the falls, and with that comes some important safety features. It’s definitely worth a stop at Cummins Falls now that one can explore a bit more.

The hike to the viewpoint for the falls is a very easy hike. At about 1/4 mile one way, it’s relatively flat and even until you get to the viewpoint. It’s understandable why it’s so dangerous…at the viewpoint, there’s a good 50′ or so drop to the river below, possibly a bit more. They have durable fencing to help deter any foolishness. With that being said, the viewpoint is at an odd angle, and it does make it difficult to get a good shot of the whole falls. I showed up on a sunny day, which I can’t prevent, but of course a cloudier day would have been better for photography.

I did explore the second option that would hopefully get me closer to the falls. There is a trail that initially leads away from the falls but then heads downhill toward the river. You can then head back upstream. I was able to go for a ways without any issue until the bank on the left side of the river disappeared. There is a way to continue along on the right side of the river, but it requires crossing the river. And while it’s not a huge river, it was still enough to deter me from getting wet. I tried to see an obvious way that wouldn’t get me wet, but there wasn’t one. If you don’t mind getting wet or have the right gear, it would be easy to get to the base of the falls.

Directions:

  1. The falls are between Tennesee routes TN-56 and TN-135, so there are a few different ways to arrive at the falls. If headed north on TN-56 from I-40, you would drive just over 7.5 miles to TN-290.
  2. Turn right onto TN-290 (Old Gainesboro Highway) heading east and drive 1 mile.
  3. Turn left onto Cummins Mills Road and drive for 3 miles.
  4. Turn left onto Blackburn Fork Road to the entrance to Cummins Falls State Park.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles roundtrip

Where in the World is Cummins Falls?

Waterloo Falls, Tennessee

When I visited Tennessee in December 2009, I ended up driving around a considerable amount of the central portion of the state. Some counties and areas have a considerable number of waterfalls within a short distance of each other. That is not the case for Waterloo Falls, with only Cummins Falls and the smaller Hardy-Reagan Falls and being relatively nearby.

I hadn’t actually even planned on visiting Waterloo Falls.  I intended to visit Cummins Falls, only to drive by and realize that there was no place to park. I later learned a very sad tragedy had occurred at the falls, and the area was now blocked off. (As of 2017, Cummins Falls has a designated state park.) I ended up driving about 9 miles to find Waterloo Falls instead. It’s not extremely tall or extremely wide. It’s almost right in the middle. What I love about this falls is its photogenic nature. Without much difficulty, I was able to achieve a really spectacular cascading effect. I think that was just pure luck, but if you look at the right portion of the picture, you’ll even notice I was able to capture a rainbow formed by the mist from the falls. I just love the way this waterfall looks.

Directions:

  1. From the junction of US-70N and TN-136 in Cookeville, head north on SR-136 for about 10 miles.
  2. After that 10 miles, bear left onto Waterloo Road.
  3. On Waterloo Road, you’ll go down a mildly steep, narrow dirt road to a “parking” area, where if you open your window, you’ll hear the falls. The area is a short distance from a house, so please respect private property nearby.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 35′
Length of Hike: negligible

Waterloo Falls in late December 2009

Where in the World is Waterloo Falls?