Keith Dotson Photo Life


[Video] Landscape photography and hiking at Cummins Falls

[Video] Landscape photography and hiking at Cummins Falls

Walk a wet, wintery hiking trail to a waterfall with landscape photographer Keith Dotson

Black and white landscape photographs from this hike begin at 11:10.

My goal with this hike was to make landscape photographs while also documenting the hiking trail. Cummins Falls State Park is the newest Tennessee state park, founded in 2011. The park is about than 1.5 hours East from Nashville, Tennessee. It has a reputation of being a long, rugged hike, and a dangerous park (with numerous drownings every year). The website and on-site signage warns that the trail is natural — not improved — which I found to be not true. As you can see in the video, the trail has been modified part of the way. However, the last leg of the trail, along the river, is a rough and wet trek to the basin below the falls.

On this icy and wet January morning, I was unable to reach the bottom of the falls due to high water, icy paths, and lack of wading boots.

The trail consists of three parts:

  1. Waterfall Overlook is a short, easy path through the woods to the overlook above the falls. A short hike to the left of the overlook leads to the top of the falls, with river access. There are wooded handrails and plenty of directional signs.
  2. Downstream Trail is a longer (but not extremely long) wooded walk on a groomed path with peaks and valleys, and occasional rough spots, with large tree roots, etc. This trail takes you downstream from the bottom of the waterfall, and deposits you into the riverbed. There are some steep sections, including the return stretch back up from the riverbed
  3. Riverbed back to the falls — Be prepared for an uneven, rocky, and wet walk. Wear water shoes, old sneakers, or waders. Sandals or flip flops would be hard. I estimate that the walk back the falls is about a half-mile to three-quarter mile, but that’s just a guess, as I failed to make it all the way, due to ice and lack of tall rubber boots.

View my landscape photographs here

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