Tennessee's Cumberland Mountains are filled with surprises. Tucked among the rolling hills and green peaks are countless misty cascades, hidden swimming holes, and quaint mountain communities. You get all of the beauty of the Smokies, minus the crowds... and you're not too far away from the hustle and bustle of Nashville, either. But once you start discovering the waterfall parks dotted all around the Cumberlands, you might not want to leave the mountains.
Have a few hours? Fall Creek Falls features many waterfalls, including one of the highest on this side of the Mississippi, and stunning panoramic views of streams and gorges. You can even swim below some of the waterfalls, like Cascade Falls, and the hike to the base of the titular Fall Creek Falls is a workout worth the burn. Have a few days? The park offers guests a spacious inn, cabins, campsites, an 18-hole golf course, and acres and acres of hiking opportunities for anyone wanting a scenic getaway. Additionally, Fall Creek Falls offers an obstacle course that features zip lines and rope swings that's sure to satisfy the most daring adventurer in your party. Definitely grab a guide upon arrival, because you'll want to take advantage of as much of the state park as possible, and not get lost in its vast 20,000-plus acres.
Hwy 127 S, Crossville, TN, US
After a day or two of fun amongst the waterfalls, mosey on over to Cumberland Mountain State Park to continue your adventure. Located atop the forested Cumberland Plateau alongside Byrd Lake, there are countless opportunities for adventure here... and for relaxation. The variety of trails, park events, and kayak and boat rentals are just some of the many offerings you'll want to explore. Plus, you'll have a beautiful view of the lake and bridge to soak in! Come for the crisp mountain air and lush forests reflecting on the water, and to enjoy cooling off with a swim!
U.S. Highway 70, Crab Orchard, TN, US
Standing at over 100 feet, Ozone Falls and all of its natural beauty can be easily reached by even the novice hiker. The falls are definitely worth the quick stop, and you'll most likely be able to explore every side of them, take loads of pictures, and get back to your car in under an hour. Feeling extra daring? Hike to the bottom and swim in the pool beneath! The beauty of looking up at the large falls cascading down while you're in the water is unforgettable. Parking here is easy, but limited. If you're not already sold on visiting Ozone Falls, did I mention that scenes from Disney's live-action movie "The Jungle Book" were filmed here? This laid-back stop during a drive through scenic Tennessee is an absolute must.
118 Turquoise Dr, Crossville, TN, US
After an afternoon underneath the falls, a quick 10-minute drive west will take you to a camping experience for every kind of Tennessee adventurer. Conveniently accessible to the interstate, the Crossville / I-40 KOA offers fantastic amenities, whether you want to kick back and take in more of those gorgeous mountain views, or continue hiking, biking, and fishing. A lodge with kitchen amenities and TV might suit your fancy, or one of the Deluxe Cabins or Camping Cabins that offer cozy accommodation may be up your alley if you're not RVing. A dog park, playground, volleyball court, and even a playroom for pool and games make for well-rounded family fun that everyone can enjoy. The best part about the Crossville / I-40 KOA is that you can enjoy a relaxing, quiet getaway, or immerse yourself in endless activities, trails, and friendly faces. You'll never be bored with the Crossville / I-40 KOA, or out of sight of those rugged Tennessee mountains!
2444 Genesis Rd Ste 103, Crossville, TN, US
After so much outdoor adventure or just a long work week, it's nice to sit, relax, and treat yourself. One of the most well-known wineries across the state, Stonehaus Winery welcomes guests with a free tasting of their delicious assortment of beverages. The winery, which has been around for decades, offers quality wines in a friendly and sophisticated environment, all for great prices (score!). From the wine aficionado to the occasional sipper, to anyone simply wanting to try something new, Stonehaus is a great stop on any trip through the mountains. You're sure to leave with a bottle or two to take home, and you can even grab cheese and crackers to pack yourself a little picnic for the next park on the route. Oh, and did we mention that Stonehaus is the featured wine of the Grand Ole Opry?
6807 South York Highway, Clarkrange, TN, US
An old shop seemingly frozen in time, Cumberland Mountain General Store will have you feeling nostalgic from the moment you step inside. Keep your eyes peeled for unique treasures, and browse the hundreds of antiques to bring home a souvenir. Even the fixtures within the store are one-of-a-kind, including a working hand-crank register you'll notice when purchasing your finds! The welcoming owners, faithful antique-loving locals, and travelers stopping in for some fun create an incredible homey environment that's amazing to join in. If you find yourself hungry after shopping, or are craving a milkshake and a good time, travel back to the 1950s by stepping behind the general store to Rock-A-Billy diner. This eatery sticks to original recipes from way back when, and the wait staff happily serves customers in classic 50s outfits. Cumberland Mountain General Store is an experience you'll want to see with your own eyes. You'll definitely get sent back in time, get a laugh or two, and won't leave hungry.
Scott's Gulf Road, Sparta, TN, US
If you haven't noticed by now, Tennessee has abundant waterfalls and lots of great hiking. At Virgin Falls State Natural Area, you can combine both of those things, as the park features a stellar hike with multiple gorgeous waterfalls, caves, and waterways that's just a little over eight miles roundtrip. Explore the area, take a dip under the falls, and then walk the trail up some bluffs for additional views and a harder workout. Cool mists from the waterfalls are a refreshing reward throughout the trek, but definitely bring water and expect a solid day of activity. You will truly be roughing it, since this natural area does not offer amenities such as restrooms. So come prepared!
4010 Burgess Falls Dr, Sparta, TN, US
Four waterfalls grace the strikingly beautiful Burgess Falls State Park. Burgess is a great day trip for anyone who enjoys getting outside and seeing incredible water landscapes. The park once belonged to various Native American tribes and later was used to create hydroelectric power, before it was protected by the state. The trek is a little bit strenuous, and you're sure to get a workout in, but the four waterfalls are a great reward for your hard work. Or, you can just take the quick trail to the main Burgess Falls; there are even stairs down to the base if you want to swim. Pictures don't come close to doing these falls justice, so get out there and experience them all in person!
1081 Cummins Mill Road, Cookeville, TN, US
The short but tough hike to one of Tennessee's largest falls (it's 75 feet tall!) is well worth the climb through the rocks and river. Cummins Falls State Park spans over 200 acres, so there is plenty of room to spread out and breath in fresh air without feeling crowded. And photographers, trust us, you will be in HEAVEN! Cummins is a perfect stop for those traveling through the state, and is an easy stop on the way to or from Nashville. Take your time, stay cautious (if you climb down to the base of the falls, you'll be navigating using guide ropes), and most importantly, stop and appreciate all the beauty in this natural wonderland. You might even feel like hopping in and taking a dip-- it is one of America's top swimming holes, after all!
115 Oak View Dr East, Brush Creek, TN, US
It's about time for another winery stop, don't you think? Cellar 53 Winery is a unique, small-scale, family-run farm that welcomes you with a variety of wines that change on a monthly basis. For over a decade, the farm has grown wine grapes, and in 2015, the Paschal family opened their doors to the public. The family offers quality products using their own grape and blackberry vines, creating wines that you won't find anywhere but here. Live music and special events in the intimate and homey setting-- along with killer local cheese pairings-- present customers with a great time. Cellar 53 is open Thursday through Sunday until 6 PM, so plan accordingly.
Get out of the city bustle without going too far at the Nashville East / Lebanon KOA. Visitors have the opportunity to stay out of the crowds and enjoy the peace and quiet of Mother Nature, or camp here and still experience The Grand Ole Opry or any other Nashville treasure with a quick, 20-minute drive to the city. Great staff and clean amenities will make your stay an easy, relaxing one, and cornhole, basketball courts, and plenty of other activities will be fun for the entire family! With great hiking nearby in Cookeville, and plenty of state parks and canoeing within a short drive, you'll find plenty to do without even heading to the city. The Nashville East / Lebanon KOA is a hidden treasure that anyone traveling through the area should take advantage of!
The mountain views and fresh air of the Cumberland Mountains will have you wanting to experience as much as possible, and keep coming back for more! You can't beat the endless number of waterfalls you'll stumble upon, and you'll never be too far from the city, although it'll definitely feel like it. With interesting shops and wineries along the path to parks and preserves, this is a memorable road trip definitely worth your while.