Cummins Falls: A Hiking Recap

We've reached the second half of summer and have listed some amazing hiking trails across the U.S. You still have time to book a trip and embark on a new adventure before fall arrives. Maybe you're wondering, what is it really like to hike a difficult trail to reach a 75-foot cascading waterfall? Well, we're about to tell you. Here's a closer look at the 2.5 mile trek to the 8th largest waterfall in Tennessee: Cummins Falls.

Please note when reading this article that details are subject to change. Due to COVID-19, you currently need a day permit to hike down to the base of Cummins Falls. Always check for the most up-to-date information on the Tennessee State Parks website before planning a trip.

Getting Started 

Upon arrival at the parking lot, your journey to Cummins Falls begins. After watching a video on safety measures, you will walk about a fourth of a mile down a fairly flat gravel road. At the end of this road is the viewing area to look out over the falls from the top of the gorge. After taking in the breathtaking views and the loud cascading waters, your trek down to the base of the falls begins.

The First Trail

The first route is about a mile of mostly downhill terrain through the woods on mulch, up-grown roots, and small rocks with steep drop-offs alongside the path. The trail is almost completely shaded from the sun due to the dense foliage and overhead tree canopies.

The Second Trail

After you complete the wooded mile descent, you will reach an opening that leads down to the gorge, this is where the real adventure begins. You will find yourself surrounded by steep, rocky walls on either side of you. This part of the trail is difficult, expect a strenuous 1.5-mile hike to reach the actual base of the falls. You will walk through water over slippery terrain, weaving your way in and out of rock after rock. The most tricky part of this section is always looking down at where you plant your feet, ensuring you don't slip or sprain an ankle. As you get closer to the falls you will start to hear the rushing water, which is exciting because it's an indicator that you're almost there.

The Base of the Falls

Once you reach the falls, you have to climb over gigantic rocks to enter the water. Congratulations, you finally made it! Find a nice, flat rock to place your backpack on and jump in for a swim. The water is cold, refreshing, and deep in the center. If you swim over to the cascading waterfall you will be able to stand up and let the water rush over your head. The sights, sounds, and pure scenic beauty of the gorge is breathtaking. Once you've finished swimming and are ready to head back, you get to hike the same trails all over again, but it's all a part of the unforgettable experience.

Things to Note

  • Sturdy water shoes are highly recommended.

  • Bring a backpack with any needed items, such as sunscreen, a snack/lunch, plenty of water, etc.

  • If you plan to bring your phone or camera, a waterproof case is ideal.

  • While hiking, ensure both hands are always free in case you slip or fall and need to catch yourself. 

  • Exert extreme caution for any children in your party.

  • Ensure any child or adult who isn't a strong swimmer is securely fastened in a life jacket while swimming (they are provided).

  • Weather can change rapidly, if it begins to rain be aware of rising water. If the streams start to appear muddy or murky, get to high ground immediately.

  • Plan accordingly, if the weather forecast shows rain in the afternoon, go in the early morning. The trails can become more dangerous or close early due to rainy conditions.

The journey to Cummins Falls is a hiking experience you are sure to never forget. If you are considering visiting the bustling city of Nashville, TN, take a day trip to the falls for an afternoon of solitude immersed in mother nature.