At the suggestion of one of our readers, Mr. Handsome and I visited Window Cliffs State Natural Area, located near Cummins Falls (about an hour east of Nashville). We were amazed to learn that the window cliffs were first sketched by French explorer Charles LeSuere in the 1830s. Before that time, the park was home to Native Americans.
The trail starts off flat, but you quickly begin a 0.25-mile descent to a creek (could be classified as a large creek or a small river, depending on how high the water is). For the next 2 miles, you cross the creek almost a dozen times.
When we went, the water was only knee high, but it can be deeper. There’s a phone number for Burgess Falls State Park online, so you can call before you go to check how high the creek is. Thankfully, the park has placed cables across each creek crossing, to show visitors the best place to walk and provide something for them to hold.
Tennessee is known for its limestone. The window cliffs are made of limestone, and all the creek passages that you walk through have limestone bottoms. Unfortunately, that also means they are a bit slippery. Hiking sandals or waterproof hiking shoes are needed. Another downside of limestone is that it prevents water from being absorbed into the ground as easily as it otherwise would. As a result, when it rains in Tennessee, the streets become very wet very quickly.
Despite the downfalls of limestone, the limestone window cliffs are incredibly unique and well worth the hike. It took us about 90 minutes to hike to the lookout point (just over 2 miles).
The view was great, but we opted to go another 0.75 miles up to the actual rock formations. That put our total distance at nearly 6 miles. We saw a beautiful waterfall along the way.
From the final viewpoint, we were above the cliffs (although not on top of them) looking down. From that angle, we couldn’t see the actual windows, but it was a neat vantage point and provided a great panoramic view of the area.
The hike back to the parking lot felt a lot shorter than it had the first time, but it still took nearly 90 minutes. Windows Cliffs is a must-see if you’re in the Cookeville area. Thanks to the reader who recommended it! Below is a video that we filmed from the first lookout point.