Cummins Falls State Park is an idyllic, but rugged, 306-acre day-use park located nine miles north of Cookeville on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River on the Eastern Highland Rim. Located in the Cordell Hull Watershed, the area has been a scenic spot and swimming hole for local residents of Jackson and Putnam counties for more than 100 years. Cummins Falls is Tennessee’s eighth largest waterfall in volume of water and is 75 feet high.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The main parking area, restrooms, trailheads, and a designated picnic area are located above the falls. The overlook is nearby and can be accessed by foot. ADA access to the overlook is available upon request.
- Gorge Access Permits are required for anyone who wishes to enter the gorge or access the base of the waterfall.
- Please note: No refunds, exchanges, date transfers, or rain checks will be issued for permits. If notified before the date of use, we can transfer the date. If you are at the park with a permit and the gorge has closed before you go down, a rain check will be issued.
- Permits are available online.
- Park Hours are 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM in-season and 4:30 off-season.
- The gorge area closes at 5:00 PM in-season.
- People at the bottom of the waterfall must start walking out at 5:00 PM in order to get back to the parking lot and be out of the park by 6:00 PM.
- Pets are allowed but must be on a leash and under control. Please remember to clean up after your pet.
- The hike to the base of the waterfall is a strenuous and physical activity.
- Please read safety information below before planning to hike to the base of the waterfall.
To make your visit to our park as safe and enjoyable as possible, know the risks. Use good judgment and common sense when deciding whether you should hike down to the waterfall. If you have hesitations about your safety or ability, please plan to enjoy the view of the waterfall from the overlook. If you decide to hike to the bottom of the waterfall, please use caution and follow these guidelines:
- The base of the waterfall is only accessible on fair-weather days.
- Visiting the waterfall will require
- Strenuous Hiking
- Swimming or wading through water
- Climbing rocks
- Crossing slippery rocks
- Flash flooding at the base of the waterfall and in the gorge could occur any time rain is present in the watershed.
- You should comply with the park’s safety instructions.
- In the event of an emergency evacuation, please respond immediately to ranger instructions and proceed to the refuge areas marked by yellow signs along the path through the gorge.
- The hike to the gorge is not an improved trail. We recommend that children 5 and under not enter the gorge or visit the base of the waterfall. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult and must wear a life jacket while at the falls and while swimming or in the water.
- USCG-approved life jackets are advised if you plan to get in the water below the falls. While some life jackets are available at the park, we recommend bringing your own.
- The less you take to the bottom of the waterfall the better. It is best to limit belongings to items that will fit in a small backpack.
- Keep your hands free.
- Wear sturdy shoes. Flip-flops are not recommended.
- Rather than try to take a picnic to the gorge area, plan to eat in the designated picnic area and just take snacks and water to the gorge.
- Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in the park.
- Coolers are not allowed in the gorge.
- Pool floats are not allowed in the plunge pool at the base of the waterfall.
The gorge area of the park is a natural feature unaltered by man, as is most of the park. While very beautiful, this is a rugged area and there are inherent hazards.
The gorge and waterfall are not easily accessed and can only be reached by foot.
- There are two routes that descend into the gorge.
- One is approximately one mile and the other is approximately 1.5 miles.
- Both routes are steep with uneven terrain and have significant elevation drops.
- Natural trail surfaces are varied and include water crossings, boulders, and other obstacles.
Trails and rocks at the waterfall and gorge area are often slippery, so wear sturdy shoes and remember safety first. Keep in mind the weather when planning your visit. Sudden heavy rainfalls can result in flash floods and streams can become very dangerous.
No camping is allowed at Cummins Falls, however, cabins and camping are offered at Standing Stone State Park (link) and Edgar Evins State Park (link). Standing Stone is a 40-minute drive (23 miles) from the park and offers cabins and tent and trailer camping year-round. Edgar Evins is a 35-minute drive (27 miles) from the park and offers seasonal tent and trailer camping and condo-style cabins year-round. Old Mill Camp, located across from our entrance offers tent and RV camping. They can be reached at 931-268-0045 or oldmillcamp.com. Twin Lakes Catfish Farm in Baxter offers RV and a few tent sites. Call 931-858-2333 for more info. Nearby Cookeville offers a variety of lodging options.
Cummins Falls’ rich history includes a time when Indians used the area to track the numerous buffalo that wallowed in the river’s shallow areas. In the 1790s, Sergeant Blackburn, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and for whom the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River was named, was awarded the land in lieu of a pension. The land was acquired by John Cummins in 1825, and he used the land to build the first of two mills. Because of his growing clientele, a larger second mill was built in 1845. Local residents would visit the mills and the falls for both commerce and recreation.
The mill was washed away during the great flood of 1928, but cars and paved highways had already begun to make the trek to Cummins Falls more accessible. The mill was not rebuilt but the land stayed with the Cummins family for more than 180 years until efforts by the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation to purchase the land through private and public donations for resale to the state of Tennessee. The park bears the Cummins name, though it is commonly misspelled "Cummings".
Park Trail Maps
Looking for a trail map? Click the link below to see a list of the maps available at this park. The page includes all the trail maps we have available, organized by park. We have free and paid options that provide you the details you need to have your next great adventure in Tennessee.
Geo-referenced Trail Maps
Did you know that certain types of PDF maps can show your exact position on a trail? We are creating geo-referenced maps for our parks. When the map is opened with an app on your smartphone, a dot/reference point displays on the device screen at your exact location. These maps use your GPS, not your cell signal, so they work even when you do not have service. Here is what you need to access our maps: