Waterfall Wonderland: Cookeville TN area

Fall Creek Falls, TN

In July, I was excited to spent a day in the Cookeville TN area.

I was first introduced to the area when I attended Belmont University in Nashville, which is an hour west from Cookeville.

Cookeville lies in the heart of the Cumberland Plateau, where the Appalachians collide into the lush high hill country.

Cookeville is the seat of Putnam County and known as an oasis in the foothills. It boasts a population of roughly 40,000 souls and is home to TN Tech University.

Located halfway between The Smokies and Nashville – Cookeville is worth a detour. The town is home to eclectic restaurants, murals, and tons of natural scenery. Cookeville is an outdoor lovers dream with proximity to tons of recreational opportunities from kayaking, hiking and camping.

This is the heart of waterfall country – Cookeville is within 40 miles of over 150 waterfalls including the grand Fall Creek Falls.

Recreation lovers could spent weeks in the area, with area state parks and campgrounds at nearby Cummins Falls State Park, Rock Island State Park, Edgar Evans State Park, Burgess Falls State Park, Window Cliffs and more. In in multiple trips, I’ve only begun to scratch the surface for exploring the natural beauty in the Cookeville region.

If you are looking for an urban edge, Cookeville features chain restaurants/hotels, but also home grown coffee shops, eateries and entertainment.

I’m a coffee ‘snob’ – I will drive the extra mile for great coffee and was pleased to discover several great places to get the daily grind:

Poet’s Coffee

Argueta’s Coffee

Roots Coffee (Baxter TN)

My coffee collection after TN trip

On this trip to Cookeville, I enjoyed staying at The Hampton Inn. Cookeville also offers local bed and breakfast options.

With over 150 waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails I had to narrow my itinerary down to focus on a few key areas for recreation.

One of my favorite state parks in TN is Fall Creek Falls – just shy of an hour south of Cookeville – this hidden gem is one of the nicest state parks you’ll encounter. In addition to the massive waterfalls, visitors will be treated to ambling bluff vistas and can check into a world-class lodge and enjoy dinner on the lake.

Fall Creek Falls encompasses more than 29,000 acres across the rugged Cumberland Plateau with deep gorges, cascades, waterfalls and rushing streams and lush virgin forest – it is a piece of Eden right in TN.

The namesake Fall Creek Falls is easily accessible for any visitor (which is nice if you cannot do a long hike). Fall Creek Falls tumble 256 feet, marking it as one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern US.

The park also features: Piney Falls, Cane Creek Falls and Cane Creek Cascades

If you want to rough it – camping is available, but for those looking for a more ‘upscale’ rustic trip – the lodge is AMAZING. It is one of the nicest hotels I have visited. It sits on the manmade recreational lake with beach for swimming. A pool is also a family favorite.

I enjoyed a delicious dinner at the lakefront restaurant.

Sparta TN is a wonderful small town just outside of Fall Creek Falls and offers additional food and lodging options.

En route to Fall Creek Falls, I also was able to enjoy a taste of…

Burgess Falls State Park

While I didn’t have time to hike the entire backcountry trail on this trip, I did get some excellent views of the Fallingwater River

I fell in love with this cozy and homegrown restaurant and store just outside of the Burgess Falls.

Housed in a barn – they feature home cooking, ice cream and coffee…

Cookeville and the surrounding areas are the perfect cozy country trip for you to embark on – especially in the fall.

Helpful resources:

Cookeville TN

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