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FROM SCENIC CLIMBS TO WATERFALLS, WE’VE GOT IT ALL
No. 1 MILLIKAN’S OVERLOOK
Three valleys stretch in different directions, and the hills of the Cumberland Plateau nestle against one another for miles, gently fading from green to a soft blue. Find this spot on the driving loop around Fall Creek Falls State Park, about an hour from Cookeville.
No. 2 BURGESS FALLS
Heading down Burgess Falls State Park’s three-quarter mile path, each of the four waterfalls is bigger than the last. An overlook above the falls provides an impressive view of the falls and the steep cliffs that surround them like a deep, smooth bowl. Even Southern Living took notice, naming the park among their “Five Ways to Stay Cool in Tennessee.”
No. 3 CUMMINS FALLS
Dedicated in 2012, Cummins Falls is one of Tennessee’s newest state parks. Its showpiece, like many of the parks in the Upper Cumberland, is a massive waterfall. Accessible via a two-mile hike, the waterfall is shaped in a shallow U with a variety of levels.
No. 4 CENTER HILL LAKE
Center Hill Lake at Edgar Evins hosts a variety of hiking trails and boating opportunities, from kayaks to pontoon boats. A great place to get a feel for the scale of the lake is from an overlook on state Route 56, about three or four miles from Interstate 40. The view changes every season, and it’s a great place to pull off the road on the way to or from the Appalachian Center for Craft and admire the beauty of the Upper Cumberland.
No. 5 ROCK ISLAND STATE PARK
Rock Island is a perfect spot for a picnic. The rivers that feed the area have, over the centuries, cut long ledges into the rock for children, families and others to scramble across. Easier to get to than many of the other swimming spots in the area, Rock Island also has one of the most unique rock ledge formations around.
No. 6 VIRGIN FALLS
This 110-foot waterfall flows out of an underground stream and then vanishes back into a cave. Geologically, the waterfall is one of the only of its kind in the state. The Caney Fork Overlook provides a view of Scott’s Gulf and the Caney Fork River 900 feet below.
No. 7 BLACK MOUNTAIN
Just a 15-minute drive from I-40’s Crab Orchard exit, Black Mountain - a 10.8-mile loop trail along the Cumberland Trail - is a maze of scenic wonders, from towering bluffs to chimney rocks and fluted corridors. Don’t miss the breathtaking overlook onto scenic Grassy Cove.
*Information courtesy of Cookeville THE SOURCEBOOK 19th EDITION