• Activities:

    Photography, Swimming, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    800 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Swimming Hole

Incredible hike to one of the best falls in the Southeast—just one and a half hours from Nashville and four from Atlanta. Completely isolated in the winter, and one of the most popular swimming holes you'll find during the summer.

Catch the trailhead down to the falls at the parking lot. The trail quickly approaches the rim of the river gorge to provide hikers with a great bird's eye view of the falls. After snapping a few photos of the falls from above, follow the clearly marked trail down to the river's edge. From there, hikers have to do a little bit of bushwhacking. Follow the water upstream, skirting the banks of the river. At some point, hikers must cross the river. However, where they cross will depend on whether they prefer a shallow, but wide section of the river, or a deeper, but narrower section of the river. For hikers who are not too steady on their feet, the wider areas tend to have slower moving water, making it easier to cross. Caution: during the winter, the water can be extremely cold. Most hiking boots are not tall enough to traverse the water and keep a hiker's feet dry. It is best to cross barefoot or with water shoes, but be prepared for a bit of a shock when you first stick your foot in the water.

Once on the other side of the river, continue down to where the river bends to the left. Traverse the large boulders around the bend until you see the falls. From there, it's the hiker's choice of how to approach—either from the right or left side of the river. It's generally easier to go from the right, as it involves one less river crossing. The best location to take photos is also from the right, but that may be left up to interpretation. Spend as much time as you like at the falls and return the same way you came. Once back on the marked section of the trail, there will be a short cut option on the left about a quarter of a mile back up that takes hikers directly back to the parking lot instead of by the falls overlook again.

Pack List

  • Camera & tripod (if you want to do some long exposures)
  • Backpack (to have your hands free for the river crossings)
  • Towel
  • Walking stick (for the river crossings)
  • Sunscreen (if swimming)
  • Water shoes (if you do not want to cross the river barefoot)
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Reviews

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We took a breathtaking hike on the areas left traveled. It is definitely not for beginners once you're off the trails. Bring a pair of water shoes or even just a change of shoes. The terrain makes for a great hike. We took many paths we shouldn't have, but it was well worth the time.

3 months ago
3 months ago

My husband and I made the hike today and had a great time! We crossed the river A LOT more than just once, but he was avoiding getting his shoes wet and I was enjoying my chacos. Definitely take a walking stick for crossing. We had great 78 degree weather, but water was very cold!

4 months ago
4 months ago

It’s a nice hike and the swimming hole at the falls is the best way to cool off. If you’re not a big swimmer, there’s a lot of large rocks close to the water where you can hang out and enjoy the sun!

5 months ago
5 months ago

So much fun getting there. Awesome once you do. Great summer hike!

5 months ago
5 months ago

This place is quite the treat for a swimming hole and a cool waterfall. I definitely have loved going there and make a point to go during the weekdays right after work. Way less crowded during those times. Totally worth it!

7 months ago
7 months ago

Beautiful trail. Be prepared for crowds, especially in peak season/times. Wear appropriate footwear, as you will be hiking upstream towards the falls at the back half of the trail. Bring your camera and your swimsuit for an easy, refreshing hike.

7 months ago
7 months ago

The hike is easy and short but super cool since you're hiking up the gorge. You'll have a few river crossings and make sure to bring your bathing suit in the summer! However, go early because it can definitely get crowded with families, couples and dogs.

9 months ago
9 months ago

Another great gem in Tennessee. Bring your swimsuit and great hiking boots. Tails starts high and you make you way down to the riverbed where you hike he rocks to the falls. Super fun to play in the pools and relax. Be ready for crowds and a steeper hike back up. Will do every summer.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

This is a beautiful trail. The trail head is marked well and the trail is marked well. There is a beautiful overview at the beginning of the trail to give you a "sneak peek' of whats to come. The trail is fairly strenuous. You have to walk over many rocks and boulders to get to the falls. I would advice not going after it has rained since you do have to scale through the river. Once you get there, the fall are stunning!! Totally worth every mile!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Love this hike! Nice swimming hole at the end with opportunities to fish along the way. No fishing at the swimming hole though. Beautiful falls! Big rocks at the end to sun on or have a picnic. There is a little bit of climbing around on the rocky shore to get there but nothing to difficult. Dogs welcome.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Cummings Falls is without a doubt one of the most beautiful waterfalls and swimming spots in Tennessee. It is not a hard hike to get to the falls, but people get seriously injured every year. Some injuries have even resulted in death. So enjoy the scenery and the long hike down hill, but watch your step when you get closer to the falls. Don't let the slick rocks make you fall victim to an avoidable injury.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Matthew Ady

Atlanta-based and outdoor-inspired adventurer, traveler, runner, photographer, and Emory University law student.

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