Ozone Falls, our experience in 2023

Anna and her boys write about their experience of Ozone Falls, Tennessee, USA.

Ozone Falls, our experience in 2023

Close to Cumberland Mountain State Park, Ozone Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in Cumberland County, Tennessee, in the United States of America.

We visited Ozone Falls in the month of May and also a while back during winter. When we went there last time, we enjoyed it more than the first time. It was a cool, dry, sunny, spring day, the kids were older and more careful, they could explore the place on their own without us being constantly worried about their safety.

Road side attractions towards the waterfall.

In the winter, it was wetter and more dangerous to hike down on slippery stones and tree roots. I slipped and when hubby offered me a hand to help me up, he slipped and almost fell over me. I pictured us tumbling down the slippery slope into the pool of the falls and the kids running to help us out and then, all of us ending up under the icy waters of the falls. Ahh, the scenarios a mom's brain can create from a little stimulation…

We went there on a Saturday morning, and we couldn't find any parking spots in the designated parking lot. So, going further down the road from the parking lot, we found a shoulder on the other side of the road where people were parking their cars, inspiring us to do the same. Subsequently, we hiked from there to the trailhead leading to the base of the fall. We never hiked to the top of the falls. I always love to see a waterfall from the base up.

Ozone waterfall selfie.

The place is charming. All noises and voices of visitors, even the loud teenagers goofing around, are drowned by the powerful racket of the falls hitting the pool from a height of 110 feet (approx. 34 meters). Inside the gorge, the light is somewhat subdued by the large bluff from which the falls plunge and also by the trees of the surrounding woods. It is a shade darker down there.

Root of a tree on dislpay. 

We walked down to the edge of the pool and around it, taking in the beauty and majesty of the falls. The water is ice-cold. I understood why back in the day the community living around here decided to call it Ozone falls – the air around the waterfall is indeed very refreshing. For a while, I just sat on a large boulder by the falls, breathing in and out that cool, lovely air.

View from behind the waterfall.

Later that day, after we came back home, I found out that there were dinosaur hooves printed in the sandstone behind the waterfall. I was sorry that we didn't know about them, and so we didn't look for them. :( But it was cool walking behind the waterfall and being able to watch it from there.

I would love to go back there, and next time I would like to do the hike to the top of the waterfall. Furthermore, I hope I will remember to look for those dinosaur hooves prints. :)

What our kids think

Mihai, 15

I looked at the soaking wet rocks near the waterfall's base. From more than twenty feet above them, they looked as large as my mom's delicious homemade pancakes, fried on the stove top, with a drizzle of maple syrup. I knew that I had to get to those rocks, to make the world a better place by finding out if what looked to be rocks were really pancakes. Good thing I like a challenge!

Large stones on the path make the hike a bit challenging.

Ozone Falls is a waterfall in Cumberland County, Tennessee. It is 110 feet tall and surrounded by slippery rocks at the base. You can also go behind the waterfall if you're foolish enough (I am…)

When we got there, I started walking down the trail leading to the waterfall. It is a very short trail to the “rim” of the valley the waterfall is in. I used the ultimate technique to get down the steep, rocky path. It's called “falling”, by the way.

At the bottom, my brother and I decided to go behind the large waterfall. We got right next to it, becoming as soaked as the rocks around us and photobombing accidentally a guy who was proposing. Unfortunately, I did not find any pancakes, but I threw real rocks into the waters at the base of the waterfall.

Getting soaked.

Ozone falls was an interesting experience. If you want to see a large waterfall, and you happen to be near Cumberland County, this is a good place to go. Just remember to bring a raincoat if you would like to go near the falls.

Paul, 12

I rushed down the steep slope of the hill and almost fell but managed to regain my balance. Mihai rushes to me and we both start trudging towards the base of the waterfall. I almost tumbled to the bottom as I slipped on a wet boulder. I reach the bottom of the small hill and get buffeted backwards by a spray of water accompanied by a gush of the wind. A large amount of water splashes all over me, leaving me drenched.

Walking behind the falls.

I rush back up the slippery hill to my father to commandeer his raincoat. Putting on the coat, I hasten back to the base of the hill. Running forwards, a spray of water gets in my eyes. Wiping it away, I see another one flying towards me, glistening in the light.

I ran up the hill leading to the road. I managed to reach the top of the hill without any incidents. My family and I then gather and do the most epic thing ever; we take a selfie! After taking a photo, we run back to our car and start the weary journey back home.

Can you spot the boys on the trail? Puts the size of the falls into perspective. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Ozone Falls, Tennessee

Another perspective.

1. What is Ozone Falls?

Ozone Falls is a majestic, 110-foot waterfall set in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, USA. It was named Ozone by the local community at the end of the 19th century. They believed that the mists created by the falls plunging from that height create the high quality of the air in this area. The falls themselves are surrounded by a forest, and a short hiking trail takes visitors along the edge of the canyon to various vantage points for breathtaking views. The trail is fairly easy, making it accessible for hikers of all skill levels. Ozone Falls is a must-see natural wonder for anyone visiting the region, or simply looking for a picturesque day hike in the midst of nature.

An interesting fact about Ozone Falls – it was used for the filming of some scenes for the movie “Jungle Book.”

2. Where is Ozone Falls located?

Ozone Falls is located in Cumberland County, Tennessee, United States. It is part of Ozone Falls State Natural Area, which covers 43 acres of land. The waterfall drops approximately 110 feet and is surrounded by a rocky gorge. The state natural area is located about 50 miles west of Knoxville, Tennessee, and is easily accessible from Interstate 40. It is also conveniently located near Cumberland Mountain State Park.

Someone is sitting on the top of the bluff, feet dangling over the precipice.

3. What can you do at Ozone Falls?

Visitors can enjoy a range of activities at this natural wonder. One of the most popular things to do is to hike to the waterfall and then around the pool and the falls. The Falls plunge 110 feet over a sandstone cap rock into a pool of water. Fall Creek then disappears underground, re-surfacing several yards downstream. The rocky amphitheater around the pool and the falls can be hiked, and so the waterfall can be viewed from different angles. You can even walk behind the waterfall and look at it from behind. The rocks around the pool are perfect for climbing and offer a great view of the surrounding forest.

4. Can you swim at Ozone Falls?

Swimming at Ozone Falls is not prohibited, nor recommended. Before you decide to take a dip, consider that the water of the pool is cold. Secondly, the falls are surrounded by rocks and a steep incline, making it difficult to access the water safely. Lastly, the area is known to have currents which can be dangerous. It is also important to note there is no designated swimming area or lifeguard on duty. Some visitors saw people swimming there, we never saw any.

A glimpse of the path to the falls.

5. When is the best time to visit Ozone Falls?

The best time to visit Ozone Falls is during the spring or fall. During these seasons, the weather is mild with pleasant temperatures. In the spring, numerous wildflowers bloom and fall decorates the surrounding landscape in beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange. However, in the summer, the place can get crowded, and the trails can get muggy and slippery, and in the winter, the waterfall may freeze, making the trails more challenging and treacherous. It is essential to check the weather conditions before planning a trip to Ozone Falls. The first time we went there, it was a rainy day and the rocks and the exposed tree roots very slippery.

6. What is the history of Ozone Falls?

The area was designated a state natural area in 1973. It used to be called McNair falls, after the name of a local miller who operated a cereal mill there. In 1896, the community living in the area changed the name of the falls to Ozone to reflect the high quality of the air of the place, generated by the waterfall's mists. In the 1800s, some grist and sawmills were built above the falls; the last one was destroyed and washed over the falls during a spring flood in 1900.

7. Is there an entrance fee for Ozone Falls?

There is no entrance fee required to visit Ozone Falls, making it a budget-friendly option for tourists and locals alike. Visitors can freely explore the area. The park is open every day from dawn to dusk.

8. Can you bring pets to Ozone Falls?

According to the park's regulations, pets are allowed on the trails, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. Visitors are also required to clean up after their pets to maintain the cleanliness of the area.

9. What safety precautions should you take when visiting Ozone Falls?

Firstly, wear appropriate footwear that offers good grip on rocky terrain to avoid any slips or falls. Avoid getting too close to the edge of the falls, as the rocks may be slippery and there is a risk of falling in. When it is raining, be mindful of the slippery rocks and tree roots. Never attempt to climb or jump off the rocks. Always keep children under close supervision while walking near the falls. Even though not prohibited, swimming is not recommended as the water can be deep, cold, and fast-moving, which can be dangerous even for strong swimmers.

10. Are there any nearby attractions to visit?

There are several attractions near Ozone Falls that can be visited. Just a few miles up the road is Cumberland Mountain State Park, which offers hiking trails, a lake for fishing and boating, and picnic areas. Another nearby attraction is the historic town of Crossville. For those interested in golfing, there are various courses located within a short drive of Ozone Falls, including the Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain State Park and the Lake Tansi Golf Course. Additionally, visitors can explore the nearby Little Roundtop Mountain, which offers hiking trails and scenic views of the surrounding area.

11. How long should you plan to stay at Ozone Falls?

The hikes from the parking lot to the top of the waterfall and to the base are very short. It took us less than an hour to hike to the base of the waterfall, around the pool of the waterfall and back to the parking lot. I wished we stayed more, just to sit on the big boulders around the pool of the waterfall and watch and listen to the water falling. It is a beautiful, serene place.