The Roaring Cumberland Falls in Corbin, Kentucky

Cumberland Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls along the Cumberland Plateau in Kentucky and features several overlooks, hiking trails, and events for the "Niagara of the South".

Written by
Jason Barnette
Posted on
June 10, 2013
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Written by
Jason Barnette
Posted on
June 10th, 2013
Share story

I could hear the roaring waterfall from the parking lot. A short hike through the visitor center portico and there it was: Cumberland Falls. Also know as the “Niagara of the South” this 125-foot wide waterfall is an amazing site and I’ve spent a little bit of time getting the best views.

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is located about eighteen miles from Corbin along the I-75 corridor through Eastern Kentucky. This area along the Cumberland Plateau, about an hour from the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, is a beautiful natural area to explore. The park is built along the Cumberland River with plenty of views of the waterfall.

The waterfall is one of the largest in the Southeastern United States. 125′ wide and nearly 50′ tall, a gargantuan amount of water spills over the ledge even on the driest of days. The roar can be heard for about a mile up and down the river along one of the many hiking trails in the park.

It’s only a five minute walk from the parking lot to the visitor center. The visitor center has a concession stand with simple snack food and a large gift shop to explore. Rangers are happy to explain the history behind the massive waterfall and the local region, and then give you some ideas for how to enjoy an evening at the park.

The raging Cumberland Falls from an overlook along the Moonbow Trail at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Corbin, KY on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. Copyright 2013 Jason Barnette

There is a rail not pictured here that keeps visitors from getting too close to the edge, but this is certainly close enough to enjoy Cumberland Falls.

From the visitor center get on the Moonbow Trail. The Moonbow is a spectacular lunar event visitors to the park can experience during the full moons throughout the year. Just a few minutes’ walk along the trail will bring visitors to a scenic overlook at the top of the waterfall. This is a fantastic view at the top of the falls that is easy to access.

The trail to the Lower Overlook passes under a sheer rock cliff at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Corbin, KY on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. Copyright 2013 Jason Barnette

People admire the falls from the Lower Overlook at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Corbin, KY on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. Copyright 2013 Jason Barnette

Top: The spur trail leads around, and almost under, a massive boulder to two additional scenic overlooks. Bottom: The lowest scenic overlooks puts visitors just a few feet above the average level of the river, but the stacked timber shows some of the highest levels during storm surges.

Continuing along the Moonbow Trail you’ll descend a stone staircase and take a spur trail to the left around some large boulders. It gets quiet here for a few moments as you start to wonder where the trail will lead. After a final turn the roaring sound of crashing water returns and you are treated to two scenic overlooks just down from the waterfall.

The raging Cumberland Falls from an overlook along the Moonbow Trail at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Corbin, KY on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. Copyright 2013 Jason Barnette

The best view of the waterfall is at the Lover’s Leap Overlook about a 1/2 mile from the visitor center.

Back on the Moonbow Trail another, final, scenic overlook high above the river provides the best view directly at the waterfall. Called the Lover’s Leap Overlook, this is one of the more peaceful places to view the waterfall since many visitors don’t explore this far down the trail.

The Moonbow Trail is 10.8 miles in length, but it’s only about 1/2 mile from the visitor center to the Lover’s Leap Overlook. The 1-mile round trip only takes about 20 minutes to walk at a leisure pace. It’s a good pace while enjoying the splendid tranquility of nature here. The roar of the waterfall never seems to go away, although it will fade the further away you get.

The moment you return to your car and close the doors the deafening silence will surround you and you finally realize: that waterfall was loud. If you’re anything like me you’ll miss it immediately. Forget the air conditioning; roll the windows down and enjoy it while you can.

If you would like to view more photos from Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, please visit my photography site at photography.southeasterntraveler.com/Kentucky/Cumberland-Falls-State-Park/

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