About Ozone Falls
Ozone Falls State Natural area is a 43-acre natural area in Cumberland County.
It is situated on the eastern edge of the Crab Orchard Mountains on the Cumberland Plateau.
The falls are a part of Fall Creek and plunge 110 feet over a sandstone cap rock into a deep, rock-strewn pool.
Fall Creek then disappears underground, re-emerging several yards downstream.
Legend has it that the area was named “Ozone” because of the “stimulating quality of the air” created by the mist generated from the long plunge of the water down to the pool.
In the 1800s, locals built grist and sawmills above the falls.
Supposedly, the last one was washed over the falls during a spring flood in 1900.
Ozone Falls also heralds an impressive natural rock house “amphitheater”, naturally created by wind, water, freeze/thaw, and erosion over a long period of time.
The amphitheater landscape provides a beautiful backdrop for the falls.
Our Visit to Ozone Falls
One Sunday, my son Willy and I decided it would be fun to take a day trip to Ozone Falls. I’m glad we did, it was fun!
Ozone Falls was really easy to find. I entered “Ozone Falls” into my GPS and it took us right there. It was roughly a 2-hour drive from where I live in Bellevue, TN.
From Crossville, travel East on I-40 and exit at the Crab Orchard exit. Turn left off the exit ramp and go to the intersection of U.S. Highway 70. From Knoxville go west on I-40 and exist at Crab Orchard. From Crab Orchard exit, turn right on U.S. Highway 70 going east. The highway takes you straight to Ozone Falls, which is on the right about four miles from the interstate exit.
When you arrive, there’s a small amount of parking at the trailhead, but additional parking across the road.
There are two trails, one that takes you to the top of the falls and one that takes you to the base of the falls.
There is no charge or paperwork needed for parking or to visit any area of Ozone Falls.
Hiking to the Top of the Falls
It’s a very short, easy hike getting to the top of the falls.
However, a word of warning if you have little kids–there are no rails, fences or ropes anywhere.
And, you can walk right across the top of the falls!
Yes, it is an amazing feeling, standing on top of a waterfall!
There is a shallow stream leading up to the falls that is safe for kids to wade in, and some parents were doing so when we visited.
Hiking to the Base of the Falls
Hiking to the bottom of the falls was a little trickier.
First off, you follow the trail and it seems to dead end at a bridge. Then you look down and see a ton of huge rocks, and no trail.
I doubled back because I thought I’d gone the wrong way. Nope. The huge rocks are the trail.
One of the locals described it as “natural stairs”–I thought that was cool.
The hike down was a bit like rock climbing, with no clear trail. It was fun!
Then, you get to the base of the falls, there is a huge indention/ledge all the way around the perimeter of the amphitheater surrounding the falls.
The locals told us people are allowed to camp there.
I guess if you decided to camp, you’d be stuck there till morning. I couldn’t imagine climbing back up all the rocks in the dark!
There was a large shallow pool at the base of the falls where a some parents with kids were swimming.
They appeared to be having a great time splashing and hollering. We didn’t even think to bring swim gear. Next time!
Visiting With the Locals
When we visited, we chatted with some of the locals. It’s a very good way to learn about the area!
The locals shared with us how the falls were used in the filming of Disney’s 1994 Jungle Book Movie. I can see why–Ozone Falls is gorgeous!
Another reason Disney chose Ozone Falls was because it was the easiest to get to for filming. It’s close to I-40 and not too long of a hike back to the falls.
The locals said Disney had a bunch of palm trees dropped in to make the entire area look like a jungle.
And, the cast and crew ate sandwiches every day from the corner store down the road. How cool is that?
The locals also told us about hiking trails all throughout the forest surrounding the falls.
And, supposedly, hiking and camping in the natural area are allowed at any time.
We didn’t have time to hike on that visit, maybe next time!
It was a very fun day trip, I plan to go back and explore more!