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.
- 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.
- Turn right onto TN-290 (Old Gainesboro Highway) heading east and drive 1 mile.
- Turn left onto Cummins Mills Road and drive for 3 miles.
- Turn left onto Blackburn Fork Road to the entrance to Cummins Falls State Park.
Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles roundtrip
Where in the World is Cummins Falls?