Vacations in the Cumberland Plateau will appeal to nature lovers and history buffs. The only big, splashy attractions here are of the natural variety, and what amazing attractions they are!
The Cumberland Plateau rises above the Tennessee Valley in all its wild and scenic glory. It's a land of deep canyons, dense forests, and cascading waterfalls. This is the place to enjoy the great outdoors and explore oddball small towns. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, birding, backpacking, and enjoying some solitude.
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area offers some 115,00 acres and 80 miles of navigable water. The area is popular with kayakers and canoers who come for the Class I and Class IV rapids. (The Big South Fork in question belongs to the Cumberland River.) Hiking, backpacking, and camping are also available.
Right next door, Pickett State Rustic Park offers outstanding hiking trails and wildflower displays in the spring. While you're in the area, don't miss the restored Victorian town of Rugby, founded in 1880 as a Utopian effort. Tours are offered, as well as dining and lodging.
At Cumberland Gap National Historic Park you can follow in the footsteps of history while enjoying some spectacular scenery. Head up the Wilderness Road, and you'll be treading the same path settlers and pioneer took on the way west. You can get a great view of the Gap from the Pinnacle Overlook. The park straddles 3 states: Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia.
Obed Wild and Scenic River is a popular spot for canoeing, kayaking, and rafting (Class II, III and IV ratings). If you prefer to stay dry, there's rock climbing, fishing, and hiking.
At nearby Frozen Head State Park you'll find spectacular views of the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee Valley and the Great Smoky Mountains. Camping, fishing, hiking and horseback riding are available. The park boasts many streams and waterfalls, and lovely wildflower displays in the spring.
Fall Creek Falls State Resort Park is noted for its spectacular scenery, including one of the highest waterfalls (at 256 feet) east of the Rockies. Activities include hiking, biking, boating (rentals available), camping, fishing, and swimming. Enjoy the park in comfort by renting one of the cabins, or stay at the inn and dine at the restaurant.
South Cumberland Recreation Area is actually a group of ten separate parks, which are managed as a unit. Yes, you guessed it, here you'll find more dramatic scenery, cascading streams and waterfalls, and interesting rock formations. Camping, Hiking, and a variety of recreational activities are offered. The Visitor Center is located between Monteagle and Tracy City on Highway 41.