Tennessee's South Cumberland Plateau towers 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain.
At the highest point of elevation between Chicago and Miami exists a land of enchantment, unparalleled natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.
Passersby traveling along the I-24 corridor between Nashville and Chattanooga seldom realize the treasure trove of adventures at their disposal atop the South Cumberland Plateau. The area is home to one of the largest state parks, the oldest family-owned bakery and one of the highest concentrations of waterfalls in Tennessee. As colorful as its fall foliage is the community, which was forged by earlier generations of Scotch-Irish and Swiss immigrants, coal miners and entrepreneurs who shared one common characteristic: grit.
Tennessee's South Cumberland offers something for everyone. Within an hour, you can get your homemade moonshine cakes at the Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City, explore the coal mining coke ovens at Grundy Lakes and go for a refreshing dip in the waters of Foster Falls. History buffs might prefer to spend their day on a scenic country drive between the 23 sites in Grundy County and Sewanee listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In fact, they can even sleep at these sites if they happen to have a reservation at the Beersheba Springs Assembly, DuBose Conference Center or Monteagle Sunday School Assembly.
The next time you approach the Mountain, take the turnoff at exit 127, 134 or 135 toward adventure. You may just fall in love and never leave. I know from experience.
1. South Cumberland and Savage Gulf State Parks
Beersheba Springs, Altamont, Gruetli-Laager, Tracy City, Monteagle and Sewanee, TN
Descend the 10-foot-wide Great Stone Door during a 2-mile, round-trip
hike from Savage Gulf State Park's Savage Gulf North trailhead.
Adrenaline junkies have the finest rock climbing opportunities at Denny Cove, Foster