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America's Best Swimming Holes

Cummins Falls, Cookeville, TN

About halfway between Nashville and Knoxville, Cummins Falls cascades 75 feet over wide stair-stepped rocks into a deep cold-water pool. It was once a hard-earned scramble to the bottom that involved hiking to the overlook, wading across the ankle-deep stream, and using a rope guide to walk down to the water. The path was made much easier in recent years, and the falls more accessible. That said, this is not a swimming hole for lightweights. Rangers ask visitors to tread carefully as rocks can be slippery and recommend children wear life vests at all times. But if you’re agile (and sure-footed), the descent into the cavernous pool is worth the effort.—Alice Bruneau

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