About 1 hour west of Knoxville, TN is Ozone Falls, an amazing Natural Area with breathtaking waterfall and rocks within a short 10 minute hike from the parking lot. The hike is down a bunch of rocks so wear good shoes (not sandals).
Once you get to the bottom it’s an amazing experience to be inside a cave, which is open from one side. During winter water flows will be less, and there will be less foliage.
Ozone Falls is a 43-acre natural area in Cumberland County and is one of Tennessee’s most heavily-visited state natural areas, because of its close proximity to Interstate 40. Ozone Falls plunges 110 feet over a sandstone cap rock into a deep, rock-strewn pool. Fall Creek then disappears underground, re-emerging several yards downstream. An impressive rock house “amphitheater” that was created over geologic time by wind, water, freeze/thaw, and erosion provides the backdrop for the falls. Because of its picturesque beauty and easy access, Ozone Falls was selected for filming scenes for the movie “Jungle Book.”
Small open sandstone glades that support native grasses and prairie plants occur on the bluffs and the caprock at the top of the falls. The surrounding upland vegetation is dominated by oaks and Virginia pine. An infestation of southern pine beetles killed many of the pines between 1999 and 2001. A remnant old-growth mixed mesophytic forest community is found beneath the waterfall. It is comprised of eastern hemlock, white pine, magnolia, yellow birch, sugar maple, tulip poplar, and red oak and with rosebay rhododendron in the shrub layer. The stream contains many huge boulders, some the size of houses, and many small placid pools. A rugged ¾-mile trail begins along the bluff near the falls and then descends into the gorge passing a small rock house called Gamblers Den. The trail follows Fall Creek to the confluence with Renfro Creek where hikers must backtrack to return to the trailhead.
Ozone Falls is situated on the eastern edge of the Crab Orchard Mountains on the Cumberland Plateau. Legend has it that the area was named “Ozone” because of the “stimulating quality of the air” created by the mist that is generated after the long plunge of the water. In the 1800s, grist and sawmills were built above the falls. The last one was washed over the falls during a spring flood in 1900.
Cumberland Mountain State Park, 24 Office Drive, Crossville, Tennessee 38555, phone (931) 484-6138. Division of Natural Areas, William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower, 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 2nd Floor, Nashville, Tennessee 37243, phone (615) 532-0431. Division of Natural Areas – East TN office, 3711 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, TN 37921, phone (865) 594-5601.
Open to the Public – Full Access
Parking. Hiking trail. Rappelling is prohibited. Pets are not recommended. The area is open sunrise to sunset. Please practice “leave no trace.” Whatever you bring in, take it out with you.
Dogs on Leash: Yes, but not recommended
From Crossville travel East on I-40 and exit at the Crab Orchard exit. Turn left off the exit ramp and go to the intersection of U.S. Highway 70. From Knoxville go west on I-40 and exist at Crab Orchard. From Crab Orchard exit, turn right on U.S. Highway 70 going east. The highway takes you straight to Ozone Falls, which is on the right about four miles from the interstate exit.
Details & Map
- Map to Ozone Falls
- Owned by the State of Tennessee
- Ozone 7.5-minute quadrangle
- Cumberland Plateau Physiographic Province
- Designated in 1973