A sign at the beginning of one of the trails at the Cumberland Falls Resort Park calls the falls the Niagara of the south. I have never seen Niagara, but I have visited Kaieteur Falls in Guyana. Like Cumberland Falls, Kaieteur is a single drop falls; therefore, the falls in this Kentucky State Park reminds me more of Kaieteur than Niagara.
Kaieteur is much more impressive as it is 741 feet high; whereas, Cumberland Falls is only a mere 68 feet high. What is nice about Cumberland Falls is it is close to Lexington, Kentucky, and Knoxville, Tennessee. Kaieteur is a continent away in South America in the middle of a jungle.
I have passed this state park perhaps fifty times going back and forth from Chicago to Tennessee. Knoxville, Tennessee was where I went to college, so I have made this drive countless times, but I have never stopped and visited.
I was going to pass it up again on my way to the Big South Fork. On a whim, thanks to articles by the Kentucky State Park Examiner, Patty Davis, I decided to end this unfortunate drought and have a look.
Once off Interstate 75, it was only about 15 miles to the state park. I can’t believe I have not stopped here earlier. I parked in the parking lot and was immediately greeted by the roar of the falls along the Cumberland River. Cumberland Falls is not a waterfall you have to hike very far to see.
I was immediately impressed with the power and the beauty of this waterfall. There are countless overlooks to enjoy its splendor. The park does a great job of offering different angles for waterfall gawkers to do their thing. I was definitely one of the gapers as I hit every location possible except underneath the falls and from the air.
You can also walk farther downstream and walk out among the boulders and the beach to get even more angles. When I was down at the beach I noticed another viewing area on the other side of the river high above a bluff.
I crossed the bridge and continued the waterfall adventure on the other side of the river. There is a 1.5 mile Eagle Falls trail on the other side of the river, also imaginatively called the number 9 trail. This was a somewhat strenuous hike for only 1.5 miles, so this path would not be for everyone.
I hiked this trail to get a view of the falls from the other side of the river. I then climbed the bluff and could see the waterfall from high above. This definitely was one of the most gorgeous waterfalls I have seen in the one day drive vicinity of Chicago.
The Midwest and the South are not known for their waterfalls, but this waterfall is one that should be on your radar. Cumberland Falls also boasts the rare moonbow phenomenon. The only other waterfall with this distinction is Victoria Falls in Africa.
On a clear night with a full moon the mist from the waterfalls creates a moonbow. I did see a rainbow on this trip from the mist, but no moonbow. I must return for this. Here is a moonbow schedule for the rest of 2013. Check back for 2014.
The goal of Traveling Ted is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips on where and how to go. If you liked this post then enter your email in the box to get email notifications for each new entry. Daily travel photos are excluded from your email in order to not flood you with posts. There is no spam and email information will not be shared. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).
On the right sidebar is a donate button. If you would like to donate in order to support the site, it would be appreciated. All donations would cover travel expenses and improvements to make the site better.