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Ozone Falls State Natural Area

Lake, River, or Waterfall
Ozone Falls State Natural Area, January 2011 – Liz Albertson

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Ozone Falls State Natural Area is a state natural area in Cumberland County, Tennessee, located in the Southeastern United States. It consists of 43 acres (0.17 km2) centered around Ozone Falls, a 110-foot (34 m) plunge waterfall, and its immediate gorge along Fall Creek.

The area is managed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and maintained by Cumberland Mountain State Park. Migrants crossing the Cumberland Plateau en route to the Nashville area in the early 19th century wrote of Ozone Falls in journals and letters sent to relatives back home.

The waterfall was located adjacent to the Walton Road, which was part of the stage route connecting East and Middle Tennessee (the road closely paralleled what is now US-70). One traveler along this road, Elijah Haley, died while passing through the area in 1806. His widow established a tavern at what is now the community of Ozone shortly thereafter, and later helped operate the Crab Orchard Inn at Crab Orchard, a few miles to the west. The waterfall was known as McNair Falls throughout the 19th century, named after a local miller who operated a grist mill at the waterfall in the 1860s. In 1896, the community of Mammy, which had grown up around the Haley tavern, changed its name to "Ozone", and the name was subsequently applied to the waterfall.

The name reflected the high quality of air in the community, which may have been enhanced by the waterfall's mists. The Ozone Falls State Natural Area was established in 1973, and originally consisted of 14 acres (57,000 m2). In 1996, it was expanded to 43 acres (170,000 m2).

Because of its picturesque beauty and easy access, Ozone Falls was selected for filming scenes for the movie “Jungle Book.”

Pet Friendly Notes

Please keep dogs on a leash.

Recreational Opportunities

The Ozone Falls State Natural Area consists of Ozone Falls and the gorge immediately downstream. The gorge area around the waterfall's plungepool slopes inward from the top edge, creating a half-dome shape along the gorge's walls. Short hiking trails allow access to the waterfall's overhang and plungepool, as well as the cliffs above the gorge. Small open glades occur on the bluffs that support native grasses and prairie plants. The surrounding upland vegetation is dominated by oaks and Virginia pine. An infestation of southern pine beetles killed many of the pines between 1999 and 2001. A remnant old growth mixed mesophytic forest community is found beneath the waterfall. It is comprised of eastern hemlock, white pine, magnolia, yellow birch, sugar maple, tulip poplar, and red oak and with rosebay rhododendron in the shrub layer. The stream contains many huge boulders, some the size of houses, and many small placid pools. A rugged ¾-mile trail begins along the bluff near the falls and then descends into the gorge passing a small rock house called Gamblers Den. The trail follows Fall Creek to the confluence with Renfro Creek where hikers must backtrack to return to the trailhead. The trailhead is located along US-70. Rappelling by the general public is prohibited.


Seasons Accessible

The site is open all seasons, but be careful of ice on the path leading to and near the waterfall in the winter months.




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