Hiking, History, and Fall Foliage on the Cumberland Plateau

With the whispers of fall upon us, soon tourists will flock to Cumberland County to enjoy breathtaking autumn views, waterfalls, and popular hiking trails. Most of us drive past these spots on a daily basis, but many might not know their history and their value to our town’s humble beginnings. 

“Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.”

– Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

Ozone Falls

Ozone Falls is by far the most prominent in Cumberland County’s history – whether many local inhabitants know it or not. This spot was the beginning of the Walton Road in the county lines. When coming in from the East, travelers would pass by the falls along their way to the Wilderness. Around 1806, widow Haley ran a tavern at Fall Creek. In 1817, she remarried to Robert Burke and opened the Crab Orchard Inn. The same year, Daniel McNair opened a Grist Mill at the falls. Today, the Ozone falls is a piece of town history – always packed with onlookers in awe. 

ozone falls

Piney Falls

Driving through the beautiful Grassy Cove area down Highway 68 towards Grandview, you’ll find a particularly hidden gem along the road: the trailhead to Piney Falls. Part of the area was once known as Jewett. The area was originally established as a coal mining town that opened around 1880. A piece of the Tennessee Central Railway had tracks there to carry coal down to Spring City. 

piney falls

Cumberland Mountain State Park

Of course, the most well-known hot spot for the hiking pleasure of visitors and residents alike: the state park. The picturesque trail around the lake and the iconic swinging bridge is on everyone’s fall list. As most of us already know, the park’s beginnings came with the Cumberland Homesteads – a depression relief effort by President Roosevelt. The lake within the park is known as Byrd Lake, named after the creek running into the man-made lake. The park totals 1,720 acres. The bridge and dam we cross when entering in the park is 347 feet of Crab Orchard Stone. It is the largest masonry project built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the nation! In 1938, when the Farm Security Administration handed the park over to the state of Tennessee, Alvin C. York was named the park superintendent. He stayed until 1941.

cumberland mountain state park

The Devil’s Breakfast Table

Although a very popular trail to those from Cumberland County, it may not be well-known to those who are new to the area. The Table is a part of the 300 mile Cumberland Trail and features a 273 step staircase. The overlook shows a beautiful view of Daddys Creek. The area of Catoosa has a unique history. The original 63,000 acres were owned by Tennessee Mineral and Lumber Company. It was sold in 1942 to the State of Tennessee for .30 cents an acre for about $21,000. In 1929, a flood destroyed 330 buildings and houses – ultimately resulting in the end of the Catoosa operation. 

devils breakfast table

Bee Rock Overlook

While Bee Rock is technically in Monterey, it is still worth visiting and a part of our history here on the Plateau. With Baker’s Crossroads, Mayland, and Dripping Springs all being around the area, and on route to Monterey, this passageway was critical through the Wilderness Trail. From Graham’s Inn near the Obed River to Johnson’s Stand in Mayland on the Walton Road, this area of the Plateau played a part in the creation of the county we know today. At the time when the Tennessee Central was passing through to Monterey, Mayland even had a depot.

bee rock

This is only a short list of the scenic hikes and overlooks where fall foliage can be seen in the coming months. While the views are beautiful, the history surrounding the places listed above is valuable information that must not be forgotten. Every small community that makes up our Plateau played a crucial part in what it has become today.

We are proud to be a small business in this community!

“Go, sit upon the lofty hill, And turn your eyes around, Where waving woods and waters wild Do hymn an autumn sound. The summer sun is faint on them— The summer flowers depart— Sit still— as all transform’d to stone, Except your musing heart.”

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Autumn


  1. Cumberland County’s First Hundred Years, Bullard and Krechniak
  2. https://www.countryliving.com/life/g1897/fall-quotes/
  3. https://www.crossville-chronicle.com/news/local_news/the-origins-of-catoosa/article_b0e98842-af36-11ea-a882-f7dd31861d5e.html
  4. https://www.crossville-chronicle.com/news/glade_sun/hiking-devil-s-breakfast-table/article_f333d772-1fb3-11e7-a726-ffb5e0514a55.html
  5. https://www.tnvacation.com/local/monterey-bee-rock-overlook
  6. https://www.cumberlandtrail.org/trail-segments/crab-orchard-mountain-segment/devils-breakfast-table-section/
  7. https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/cumberland-mountain-state-park/
  8. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g54982-d665092-Reviews-Ozone_Falls-Crab_Orchard_Tennessee.html
  9. https://www.tn.gov/environment/program-areas/na-natural-areas/natural-areas-east-region/east-region-/na-na-piney-falls.html

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