Visiting Cummins Falls State Park
In the town of Cookeville, Tennessee you’ll find Cummins Falls State Park and inside the park, a breathtaking waterfall that boasts a thunderous stream of water from a whopping 75-feet. This waterfall is Cummins Falls and it is Tennessee’s eighth largest waterfall!
When we visited Cummins Falls State Park it took us over an hour to find Cummins Falls. At the time we visited the trail was very overgrown and we got turned around a few times because we didn’t want to go off the man-made path.
There were a number of times we were both conflicted on if we were heading in the right direction but eventually we found the way (we’ll help you get there too!). After wading through waist-deep, ice-cold water, and walking for a short distance more, we finally made it to Cummins Falls.
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How to Get to the Falls at Cummins Falls State Park
We took the Blackburn Fork River Trail (0.55 mi/one-way) to the bottom of the Blackburn Fork River. From there you will take a left and follow the river until you reach Cummins Falls.
There is steep and rugged terrain throughout your entire journey to Cummins Falls, therefore, it can be hard to get there. It can only be reached by walking and at times, wading through the river. Depending on the time of day, the weather, and even the time of year, the river crossing can be really deep (more on this in a moment).
Just keep in mind, you WILL get wet! So make sure you have an extra change of clothes since the water is chilly and let’s be honest, no one really enjoys sitting in wet clothes all day. Overall the journey we took to Cummins Falls is about 1.5 miles.
Safety Tips for Visiting Cummins Falls State Park
The main thing to know when visiting Cummins Falls State Park is to use good judgment and plan accordingly but these are some other safety tips for Cummins Falls that are helpful too!
- Be aware of the weather. Heavy rainfall can lead to flash flooding in which you should seek higher ground immediately because the river can swell quickly and put you in danger. Check the forecast and rainfall for the days prior and the day you are planning to visit frequently.
- Bring a life jacket. If you are planning to go swimming at the falls, you might consider bringing a life jacket. Even if you think you’re a good swimmer, parts of this area are risky, and having an extra safety net is always a good idea.
- Alcohol and pool floats are not allowed at the park. I know I mentioned bringing a life jacket earlier so you might be wondering if this contradicts this rule at Cummins Falls State Park.
At this time, Cummins Falls State Parks suggests bringing life jackets for safety reasons if you plan to go to Cummins Falls and it is required for all children under age 12 to wear a life jacket (children under 5 are not permitted to visit the falls).
- Wear sturdy shoes. This is especially important as the rocks are very slippery. Sandals and flip-flops are NOT a good shoe choice. Instead, wear hiking shoes, water shoes, or a pair of sturdy tennis shoes that you don’t mind getting wet.
- Dogs are welcome at Cummins Falls State Park but they must be on a leash. Make sure to clean-up after your pet too. 😉
- Check the water level before you go. Looking back, swimming and wading through water that deep was not a smart decision. Cold water can be fatal at times and we could have easily been knocked over or fallen due to the slippery rocks. Use caution when swimming in streams or rivers and try not to wade in water that is higher than your knees.
Other Information About Cummins Falls State Park
One important thing to note is that you are now required to obtain a permit in order to gain gorge access which will take you to Cummins Falls. Make sure you book your permit in advance as only 150 spots are available each day.
If you aren’t interested in visiting the gorge or the base of Cummins Falls, there is also an overlook that allows you to see the waterfall from above.
Sometimes the best things in life you gotta try a little harder for. What have you kept pursuing that was worth it in the end?