Ozone Falls State Natural Area is located in Cumberland County, Tennessee and maintained park of Cumberland Mountain State Park. It consists of 43 acres of property centered around Ozone Falls which is a 110 foot plunge waterfall set against a gorge along Fall Creek. It is so picturesque that Disney selected it for filming scenes for the live action version of The Jungle Book that was released in 1994.
Historically, migrants crossing the area along a stage route that ran parallel to what is now US-70 enroute to Nashville in the early 19th century wrote about the falls in journals and letters. One traveler, Elijah Haley, died while passing through in 1806 and his widow established a tavern at what is now the community of Ozone and helped operate the Crab Orchard Inn at Crab Orchard. At the time, the waterfall was known as McNair Falls, named after a local miller who operated a grist mill located 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 waterfall’s name was changed accordingly. It’s said that the name reflected the high quality of air in the community which is enhanced by the waterfall’s mist. The Ozone Falls State Natural Area was finally established in 1973 and originally only consisted of 14 acres, though it was expanded to the current total of 43 acres in 1996.
The parking area for Ozone Falls can be found along US-70 and on the day of our visit, was almost full (there are not many spaces), though there was additional parking across the street. From the parking area, it’s a short hike on a trail along US-70 before the it turns left and descends into the gorge.
The trail to the falls is under a mile, but descends steeply with various rocks to negotiate so caution is required, especially with small children. Not long after beginning the decent you can hear the sound of falling water and then a view of the falls through the trees becomes apparent.
As you emerge through the trees, the slope gets steeper, but then levels off at the base of the falls. The pool is shallow enough in areas for small children to play, yet deep in others where other visitors can be seen jumping off of the rocks and into the water. Use caution! The view is absolutely breathing taking with the rim of the gorge wrapping around the falls and then trees at the opposite end. There is a constant and intense mist created from the falls which keeps visitors nice and cool on even the hottest of days.
After about 1 1/2 – 2 hrs of swimming and relaxing by the walls, we took some time to explore around the gorge and take in some alternate views of the falls as seen below.
Before departing, I recommend making your way back up and out of the gorge and taking the small trail by the parking lot that leads to the top of the falls to where part of the Jungle Book scene was filmed and take in the view from the top of the falls.