There are over 90 miles of hiking trails available at South Cumberland ranging from easy to strenuous with varying environs. The park is divided into three Ranger Districts, each with its own ranger station/visitor center and each district offers numerous opportunities for enjoyable hiking options.
From peaceful walks through a meadow full of wildflowers to a trip back in time to a coal mining area to breath-taking overlooks of the Cumberland Plateau, South Cumberland is a wondrous hiking destination featuring waterfalls, vistas, historical areas and some with old growth trees.
South Cumberland State Park is home to several very popular climbing areas: Denny Cove, Foster Falls, and Stone Door.
Located around the Visitor’s Center are numerous sports fields for planned gatherings or just a spontaneous family outing. These sites are occupied on a first come-first serve basis and limited equipment can be rented for free from the Visitor Center before 4 p.m. Available sites include: 1 basketball court, 1 beach volleyball court, 2 tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and a baseball field.
Located at the Grundy Lakes area is a workout area and a basketball court, equipment cannot be rented from the Visitor’s Center for these areas.
While there are no swimming pools at South Cumberland there still exists numerous opportunities to escape the heat of summer. One of the most popular destinations is the Grundy Lakes area, located just four miles from the visitor’s center. A man-made beach is perfect for lounging in the sun or for spreading out a water-side picnic. Also at the site is a swim-up dock for the sun bathers and jumping children. Please no glass items in the beach area. There are no lifeguards on duty at any swim areas. Please swim with caution and check with a ranger about uncertain conditions.
Interpretive Programs and Events
Throughout the year interpretive or recreational programs are offered by staff or volunteers of South Cumberland State Park. The greatest number of programs are offered during the summer but participants are welcome during all seasons. These programs vary from year to year but may include: interpretive hikes/walks, canoeing, introductory rock climbing, animal shows, instructional classes, star gazing, creek critter surveys, etc. Many are geared towards children while others may be primarily for an adult audience but detailed descriptions of offered programs can be found at the park’s Facebook page or on our events web page.
South Cumberland is a perfect haven for those wishing to take their meals outside. Picnic tables are available at all trailheads except for Buggytop and the Sewanee Natural Bridge with some sites having access to grills. The Grundy Lakes area has picnic tables spread around the lakes and near the beach site allowing for a quick transition from swimming to freshly prepared meals!
For those needing a little larger set up for parties or gatherings there are two shelters that can be reserved online or by calling the Visitor’s Center. The Grundy Forest Pavilion is a recreation of an old CCC pavilion and is located at the Fiery Gizzard Trail Head in the Grundy Forest. Water is available in the bathrooms and a grill is located next to the pavilion.
The Visitor’s Center Pavilion has access to bathrooms, a grill, water spigot, as well as various recreational sports areas.
Four small lakes at Grundy Lakes in Tracy City range from one to sixteen acres in size and provide bank and wade fishing for trout, bass and bream. A one-acre lake with similar species is located on the Meadow Trail near the visitor center.
Personal boats are not permitted in the lakes. Boats and fishing are not permitted on the Collins Scenic River section located within the State Natural Area boundary.
Open country birds such as Indigo Buntings, Field Sparrows and Eastern Bluebirds are among the many species seen here. Birding of the deciduous forest canopy during migration is facilitated from some of the Savage and other units spectacular bluff line overlooks.