Jackson County Day Trip

Chuck Sutherland's recommended spots


Cordell Hull watershed

Jackson County, Tennessee is one of my favorite places. It is well suited for a day trip for the uninitiated, since much of its beauty is easily observed while riding along its meandering backroads punctuated by stops at interesting and beautiful locations. The trip that follows is one that I’ve done many times with my out of town friends and family as they come to the area to see the best cultural and natural resources in the region.

Cummins Falls
Cummins Falls by Chuck Sutherland
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Cummins Falls State Park

390 Cummins Falls Ln, Cookeville, TN 38501

Visitors to Jackson County would be remiss to not visit this most excellent waterfall and swimming hole. Visitation to the swimming hole below the waterfall is by lottery and there is a nominal fee, but all visitors are welcome to come and enjoy the view from the overlook and hike the upper trails of the park at no charge.
My favorite time to visit Cummins Falls is in the Winter when visitation is at its lowest. Few people will brave the waters of the frigid Blackburn Fork to get to the waterfall.
A few things to keep in mind; access for the gorge is by a Gorge Access Permit, and the gorge should be avoided in times of high water as it is a dangerous place to be.
For more information on the Gorge Access Permit, please check the state’s webpage.

Spring Creek and Roaring River Scenic Drive
Spring Creek and Roaring River by Chuck Sutherland
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Scenic Jackson County

The next suggested destination lies north of Cummins Falls down some backroads. Be careful: because the road turns to gravel as you enter into the gorge of Spring Creek and Roaring River. This scenic drive follows the course of Spring Creek as it joins the Roaring River. While there is no one standout feature along this route, the summation of the surroundings form a beautiful backdrop for your journey through Jackson County. I advise you to drive slowly and enjoy the scenery. This route is at its peak in the Spring when wildflowers are in bloom, or later in the Fall when leaves are changing.
Should you find yourself interested in floating down these rivers, other maps I’ve made show where you can find river access for boats and kayaks.
Read more about Spring Creek Gorge.

Wash Morgan Hollow
Wild geranium by Chuck Sutherland
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Scenic Jackson County

Wash Morgan Hollow is a small natural area managed by The Nature Conservancy. Access is public, but the area is sensitive and wildflowers cannot be removed. From Spring to Fall there are several successions of wildflowers that bloom in the valley offering an interesting visit for most of the year. At the head of the hollow, or “holler” as the locals call them, is a small picturesque waterfall.

The Boils
The boils by Chuck Sutherland
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Scenic Jackson County

A genuine geologic curiosity, The Boils is a high-volume karst spring that wells up, causing the water to appear as if it’s boiling. Don’t be fooled, the cave water is cold enough to chill you to the bone even on a warm summer day. The origin of The Boils has long been a mystery, but a few years ago I assisted a friend in his attempts to unravel the origin of its waters. Read more about it here.

Roaring River Park and the Cumberland River
Roaring River by Chuck Sutherland
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Scenic Jackson County

Roaring River Park sits at the confluence of Roaring River and the Cumberland River. It’s an excellent place to wear kids out at a playground, birdwatch, fish, or launch a boat. For an unexpected culinary delight amongst the rugged terrain of Jackson County stop at Gainesboro for lunch at a local restaurant like the Bull and Thistle or the Stolen Coin! You’ll find some eateries as points on the map below, and in the map application.

Flynn Creek Meteor Impact
Flynn Creek meteor impact site by Chuck Sutherland
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Scenic Jackson County

A whole story map could be dedicated to this one stop; unfortunately, the most obvious evidence of the meteor impact is the historic marker along the road. Pull over and take a look at the landscape. Across the creek and across the road you’ll notice the rock is tilted. Normally, that is caused by some major tectonic event, but in this case, it was a celestial body that slammed violently into the earth.
Retired Tennessee Tech geology professor, Ric Finch wrote this short story about what it may have looked like from the perspective of a living organism at the time.

Cordell Hull Lake in Granville, Tennessee by Chuck Sutherland
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Scenic Jackson County

169 Clover St, Granville, TN 38564

Have you ever been to Granville?! I kept seeing billboards for the Wildwood Resort and Marina, so I made a trip out that way. Oh, my goodness, it is so gorgeous! The marina in itself is enough for a day trip, but there is so much more to see. If you decide to stay for a few days, there are multiple bed and breakfasts available as well as the marina cabins or airstreams available for rent. You could start with a sunrise picnic breakfast at the Veteran’s Park and then walk around the small town of Granville, visiting its plethora of old fashioned stores. If you show up on a weekend, you might be lucky enough to attend one of the myriad festivals or live music events hosted by the community. Every Saturday night the Old Sutton Store has the Ole Time Music Hour and Wildwood has live music too. The sunsets from the restaurant at the marina rival beach sunsets on the coast and the food and cocktails are the perfect cap to a day on the lake. Granville is perfect for a day stop, a weekend trip, or a date night!