Ozone Falls was a pretty, plunging 110ft waterfall that seemed to be a good place for a little adventure especially when making the drive between Nashville and Knoxville along the I-40 corridor.
It was merely a 100 yard hike from the trailhead to the butterfly-inducing brink of the falls, and it was another 1/4-mile or so to do the fairly steep and rocky hike down to the base of the falls. During the hike down to the base, the trail actually veered back towards the road before making its rocky descent. Some caution was necessary because some of the rocks were a little wet and slippery, but for the most part, it was pretty straightforward. There were even a couple of alcoves notched into the adjacent cliff that seemed pretty interesting. It only took me about a half-hour to visit both the top and bottom of the falls, plus do the hiking and all the picture-taking with a tripod.
I didn’t go all the way down the pool at its base (I guess I was too lazy), but I only read after the fact that the Fall Creek (the creek responsible for this waterfall) actually disappears underground before re-emerging further downstream. So I missed getting a chance to witness this.
I also observed that there was a large alcove behind the falls, which if you’re familiar with waterfall formation, it indicated that Ozone Falls must be a pretty old waterfall. Waterfalls like these usually mean you can go behind it, but given the ruggedness of the terrain and the threat of cliff erosion and falling rocks, I passed on this as well.
In any case, given its relatively little amount of required physical exertion and its proximity to a major highway (see directions below), it wouldn’t surprise me that this waterfall would also be very popular and busy. It happened to be quiet during our visit probably because we came here pretty early in the morning. It was probably a good thing we got an early start because the sun threatened to cast shadows that would’ve made the photos here much worse.
I understand that this book was also a film location of Disney’s The Jungle Book. I didn’t see the movie so I can’t provide any further details on it. However, just gleaning from the title of the book, I did find it interesting that they chose a waterfall (in a temperate climate) over one in a tropical setting (where jungles usually are). I’m guessing budget and logistics were probably overriding considerations over authenticity in this instance.
In another bit of trivia, I also read that this waterfall used to be known as McNair Falls after someone who operated a mill at the falls in the 19th century.
We stayed in Cookeville so we’ll describe the directions from there.
Heading east on the I-40 from Cookeville, you’re supposed to exit at the Hwy 70 connector in about 41 miles or so. Turning left at the off-ramp then going under the I-40 before turning right to continue on the Hwy 70, continue for another 4.5 miles to the small parking area for Ozone Falls on the right.
If you happened to overshoot the Hwy 70 off-ramp like we did, we were still able to circle back by taking the next exit which connected with the Hwy 299 about 9.5 miles past the Hwy 70 off-ramp. Turning right onto Hwy 299, we then drove about 2.8 miles south to connect to the Hwy 70. Turning right onto Hwy 70, we then drove about 4.3 miles to reach the car park on the left.
To give you some geographical context, Cookeville was 81 miles (90 minutes drive) east of Nashville, 102 miles (over 90 minutes drive) west of Knoxville, and 99 miles (2 hours drive) north of Chattanooga.
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