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My Tips For Hiking Ozone Falls, Getting The Best View Of The Waterfall, Picnicking, And Swimming There With Kids & Dogs

Photo of author

By Candida

One of my most favorite waterfalls in Tennessee is Ozone Falls!

Together, with one of my mama friends, we packed our sons in our baby carriers (the Ergo Baby 360 at the time) and made the drive to explore it.

We made a day of it — with 2 kids and 2 dogs. We all enjoyed:

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Picnicking
  • Sightseeing

Ozone Falls Class I Scenic-Recreational State Natural Area. Ozone Falls is a 43-acre natural area in Cumberland County and is one of Tennessee’s most heavily-visited state natural areas, because of its close proximity to Interstate 40.

~ TN Dept of Environment & Conservation

When I was doing my initial research about this waterfall and nearby hikes, I discovered that a scene from the 1994 movie The Jungle Book was actually filmed at Ozone Falls in Tennessee:

Directions To Ozone Falls

The plunging 110-foot waterfall is only 53 miles west of my house, according to the AllTrails app.

TIP: I love using the AllTrails hiking app — especially for directions, because it gives detailed directions and GPS coordinates through Google Maps and/or Apple Maps.

Ozone falls are located near Rockwood, TN in Cumberland County — just off of U.S. 70.

The waterfall is situated within the Ozone Falls State Natural Area and Cumberland Trail State Park.

It was easy to find the trailhead by following the directions, but parking at the trailhead was limited. There’s an informative kiosk at the trailhead — which I found out later is actually sponsored by good friends of mine. (Richard and Jeanie Hilten are avid nature conservationists. Here’s some information about their recent efforts to conserve the Foothills Parkway views.)

This is an informative kiosk at the Ozone Falls hiking trailhead.

Hiking To The Bottom Of Ozone Falls

The hike to the bottom of the falls is short and sweet, in terms of distance.

However… this hike is rated “moderate” due to the steep and rocky “choose-your-own-path” descent to get to the bottom of the falls.

We hiked to the bottom of the falls first — because we just couldn’t contain our curiosity after hearing the sound of the plunging water.

We descended into a surreal scene. It was literally something you would see in a movie or some faraway land!

We were simply awestruck by the beauty and vibe that is displayed in this natural rock “amphitheater”. It’s hard to imagine that this was created by various natural elements — such as erosion, wind, water, and an enormous amount of time.

Ozone Falls Swimming Hole & Rock Ledges

Once at the bottom (or basin) of the falls, there are several rock ledges — a great place for us to unload our babies, relax, and explore.

The waterfall plummets into a huge swimming hole. It’s the perfect way to escape a hot summer afternoon!

You will definitely want to take advantage of the swimming hole but make sure you hold onto little ones and not get too close to the plunging water — it’s pretty strong.

The swimming hole itself is incredibly deep. The water going into it actually disappears underground and re-emerges downstream.

Here’s where all that water is coming from…

Ozone Falls is situated along Fall Creek — which drains a short section of the Cumberland Plateau between the Crab Orchard Mountains to the west and Walden Ridge to the east. The creek flows down from its source high in the Crab Orchard Mountains for a mile or so before steadying briefly as it enters the community of Ozone. Fall Creek enters the state natural area just after it passes under U.S. Route 70 — which runs perpendicular to it. The creek spills over Ozone Falls a few hundred meters south of US-70.

Ozone Falls is situated along Fall Creek in East Tennessee.

We stayed and played at the bottom of the falls, checking various access points to the swimming hole.

We discovered that the easiest and best access is the one directly cross-diagonal to the first access point once you get down there. We circled the swimming hole — exploring the entire area and taking advantage of the many different photo opportunities the entire scene presented.

Hiking To The Top Of Ozone Falls

The hike back to the top is always a haul when packing extra weight — not to mention trying to wrangle 2 dogs in tow. (Yes, the trail is dog-friendly, as long as they’re on a leash.)

Starting the hike back to the top of Ozone Falls... with a toddler and 2 dogs.

You will want to make sure you have good shoes with good grip — because the rocks are loose, jagged, and slippery. (It’s a good thing my mama friend and I are always up for a challenge when it comes to seeking adventure with our babies!)

Just before we reached our initial starting point, a praying mantis landed on my son’s shoulder!

A praying mantis landed on my son’s shoulder -- a sign of good luck!

It is considered good luck if one of these curious creatures lands on you.

~Farmer’s Almanac

There’s a directional arrow back at the info kiosk — which directs you to the top of the falls. This portion of the hike is truly short, sweet, and flat. You have a chance to look over the waterfall (which is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, especially if you’re uneasy at all about heights).

Good To Know Before You Go

Ozone Falls is a must-see waterfall if you’re ever in the Rockwood, Tennessee area! Here are a few of my own tips to help you plan your visit:

  • There are no restroom facilities at the trailhead.
  • The area is dog-friendly — even though the Ozone Falls website doesn’t recommend bringing dogs (because it could be a difficult hike for some). You have to keep your dog on a leash …and be sure to clean up after them.
  • Wear good-fitting shoes with good gripping soles. You might want to pack a pair of water shoes for the swimming hole — because it has a rocky bottom at the access points.
  • Don’t forget to pack out anything you bring in. The area is clean and awe-inspiring… it’s up to us keep it that way.
  • The hike to and from the bottom of the falls can be considered “treacherous” — keep that in mind if you have walking toddlers, older dogs, or anyone with a health condition in your party.
  • A walking stick would be helpful when hiking Ozone Falls.
  • Whether you’re planning to swim or not, bring a GoPro or waterproof camera — because you will want to take pictures around the swimming hole and near the falls.
  • Pack a lunch or some refreshments, and make a day out of it!
  • If you plan on swimming, don’t forget to bring towels, a swimsuit, and a change of clothes.
We forgot to bring a change of clothes for the car ride home.

Here’s a list of my tips for hiking with a baby.