A Weekend in the Wilds
“Lose your mind and find your soul” over a long weekend of breathtaking hikes, mountain moonbows, and delicious food in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee and Kentucky!
A GUIDE TO EXPLORING THE CUMBERLAND RIVER BASIN
For the uninitiated, a trip to the Appalachian wilds of Kentucky and Tennessee can feel a bit daunting. But, if you know where to go, the hills and hollers of this region will reward you for your trip many times over. Atop the Cumberland Plateau, you’re among the oldest mountains on Earth – older than the Rockies, Himalayas, Alps, and Andes combined – and you’re also within one of the most biodiverse temperate regions to have ever existed on earth. Immerse yourself in the region, and connect with an astonishing natural history. Those joyous red and yellow leafed maples? They’ve brightened autumn on our planet for 60 million years. Those soft, cascading resurrection ferns? They’ve existed in nearly the same form for 180 million years.
Juicy’s Wellness Cafe
1105 S Walnut Ave Ste A, Cookeville, TN 38501
Roll outta bed, pack up the car, and hit the road! As ya head for the hills, stop by Juicy’s Wellness Cafe in Cookeville. The restaurant (with other locations in McMinnville and Murfreesboro) is about an hour and twenty from Nashville. It opens at 10am and is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a healthy road snack, juice, or packable lunch that will power ya through an afternoon hike.
Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area
3899 Pickett Park Hwy, Jamestown, TN 38556
About an hour and ten minutes from Juicy’s, Pogue Creek Canyon Natural Area in Fentress County, TN is full-on wondrous.
The protected area is home to over 300 species of plants including rare and endangered species, as well as a rich assemblage of birds, amphibians, aquatic animals, and cave species. And, the Pogue Creek Overlook and Upper Canyon Trail, within the SNA, is hands down one of the Cumberland River Basin’s best hikes.
At the start, exposed cliffs provide spectacular views of waterways carving the canyon below. Descending into the gorge, you find yourself alongside monolithic walls of sandstone, between corridors of rhododendron, and beneath ceilings of big leaf magnolia.
An out and back total of 6.3 miles, the hike is considered moderately difficult on AllTrails. Killdeer Arch, towards the back, is a stunner and worth the miles if you’ve got the time. You’ll know when you get there! There’s no cell service out here so make sure you know how to get from Pogue Creek to your next destination ahead of time.
Farm House Inn
Taylor Branch Rd, Parkers Lake, KY 42634
Editors’ Note: As of May 2022, the Farm House Inn is closed to visitors.
An hour and a half from Pogue Creek Canyon, you’ll find the Farm House Inn. This solar-powered bed and breakfast is a hidden gem in the heart of the Daniel Boone National Forest. The property includes 145 acres of forest, cliffs, wildflowers, waterfalls, and wildlife, including the nation’s largest Service Berry Tree, rare filmy fern, and lungless green salamanders. Over half is protected for future generations within a Kentucky Natural Lands Trust conservation easement.
A country-style breakfast is complimentary and guests gush, but you’re on your own (and far from options!) for lunch and dinner. Pack up some groceries for the weekend and make use of the Inn’s full-size kitchen, which is available to all guests.
As the owners of the Inn say, the Farmhouse is “a destination, not a stopover.” Enjoy this charming destination! Bring some cards, some crafts, or a camera. Rock a rocking chair with coffee and a good book. Bring the poles and steal some QT with the kids at the fishing ponds. And, get into those woods!
Guests of the Farmhouse Inn are given private maps and encouraged to explore several miles of trail. In the springtime, you’ll find beautiful wildflowers and hear the songs of migrating warblers. In the summer, you can beat the heat of the city within these cooler forests at elevation. In the Fall, you’ll be ensconced in color – mile after mile of oaks and maples, hickories, sourwoods, and other native tree species.
However you go about your day, make time to take time – slow down and enjoy this enchanting, unique corner of the world.
Dog Slaughter Falls
Forest Rd, Corbin, KY 40701
If country breakfast has you needing extra steps or feeling sleepy (no judgement), consider a bonus hike and cold water plunge at Dog Slaughter Falls, about 30 minutes from the Farm House. Despite its upsetting name, the destination involves an enjoyable walk past evergreen hemlocks and boulders to a picturesque waterfall and swimming hole. Trails include a 2.4 or 7.1 mile option and the hike is roughly 30 minutes from the Farm House. Even in summer, jumping into these icy waters ain’t easy, but it’s worth it. COLD but INVIGORATING!
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
7351 Hwy 90, Corbin, KY 40701
If you want to go next level, schedule your trip to coincide with a full moon. Then, head to Cumberland Falls in the evening as the moon arcs high into the sky. Cumberland Falls in Cumberland Falls State Historic Park– 20 minutes from the Farmhouse Inn – is one of the only places on earth where you can regularly see lunar rainbows or moonbows. The natural phenomenon is visible for about four days each month, in the time before, during, and after, the moon is fullest.
Check the state park’s website for upcoming moonbow dates.
Natural Arch Scenic Area
Parkers Lake, KY 42634
After another round of country breakfast, check out and head to Natural Arch Scenic Area. The Scenic Area is 25 minutes from Farmhouse Inn and is a cool and convenient spot to get a little hiking in on your return trip.
Here, time and the elements have weathered a remarkable 50’ high, 100’ wide arch from sandstone. Make sure to have a little cash on you, as you’ll need $3 to park. Once you ditch your car, two great hiking options are the 1 mile “Natural Arch Loop Trail” and the 5 mile “Buffalo Canyon Trail.” Both allow you right up to the arch.
710 E Lake Ave Celina, TN, TN 38551
Hopefully you’ve found a little soul over the last couple days! By now, though, your expanding incorporeal goodness is probably getting hungry.
Ollies Place serves mouth-watering soul food at affordable prices and is on your way if you’re heading back to Nashville. The owner, Ollie Page, raises and smokes meat at his home in the nearby, Free Hill Community – a black settlement that was established by freed slaves before the Civil War. Fried chicken and pecan pie? OH MY!