Amid the uncertainty of COVID-19, you may be looking for safe ways to get around and experience the world without having to go too far. Cookeville, Tennessee, a natural wonder full of national and state parks, is a great place to start looking for scenic drives. And, of course, we have relaxing places to stay so you can escape a bit longer and explore the historic, musical, and natural significance of the Upper Cumberland area. Here’s are a few of our favorites:
Byway to Bluegrass
Take a historic ride down Walton Road Scenic Byway and into Sparta, also known as Bluegrass USA. It’s hometown to a well-known bluegrass icon, Lester Flatt. Then, head through the countryside toward Cumberland Caverns, a U.S. National Landmark and one of the largest caves in Tennessee. It’s also been the venue for Bluegrass Underground in the past, and you can watch past shows on Youtube. When you’re done there, head back toward Cookeville through Baxter, Tennessee, and stay at the Twin Lakes RV Campground, a pet-friendly campground with RV spots, a tent area, a “kiddie lake” and catering services. You don’t need a fishing license to bring out the line and pole and relax by the water. Make sure to set reservations in advance. Oh, and don’t forget to get a tour and taste at DelMonaco Winery & Vineyard’s restaurant, Toastas, when you start moving again!
Center Hill Thrill
Begin your trek down Walton Road Scenic Byway toward Buffalo Valley. As you travel along Highway 96, stop by Edgar Evins State Park and enjoy 6,000-acres of recreation, lake views, and a marina with a restaurant and gift shop. Kayaking, canoeing, or boating are enjoyable in cooler weather. The area is also great for hiking and connecting with nature. When you’re ready, cross over Center Hill Lake and enjoy the view of 415 miles of shoreline. The pure, undeveloped nature will ease your mind and calm your soul. As you pass through Baxter on your way back, take a look through town or stop by the Baxter Depot Museum.
Do you love waterfalls? We’ve got a route just for you. Take a trip to Burgess Falls State Park and see cascading waterfalls and miles of fall-colored leaves and untapped nature. You can fish, picnic, or simply walk around. From there, journey to Sparta, home of Jackson Kayak, and enjoy the history around Liberty Square. Further on, you’ll go along the Calfkiller River, where you can take in views of wildlife. Along the way, stop by Calfkiller Brewing Company, the region’s first microbrewery. Take Calfkiller highway to Monterey, where you can stay and enjoy a mountain view by the fireplace at The Garden Inn Bed and Breakfast at Bee Rock. Aside from a full gourmet breakfast, there’s complimentary pre-packaged snacks, baked goods, and bottled refreshments. You’ll be surrounded by beautiful views and amazing service.
Standing Stone Loop
Take a ride in your car or on your motorcycle through the heart of Americana music, Livingston, Tennessee. Make your way through the curves and hills of Upper Cumberland and find Standing Stone National Park, known for its 11,000 acres of flowers, trees, fossils and natural diversity. Then, take a loop through historic Gainesville and visit Cordell Hull Lake for some beautiful views. Take a step back in time as you begin to enter Granville, and pull out the camera for some rural landscapes that take your breath away as you return on Walton Road Scenic Byway. If you’re looking for a unique place to stay, try Sulfur Ridge: Tennessee’s First Luxury Treehouse. The treehouse boasts large, open windows with mountain views, shabby chic feel, a private deck with a firepit, and more.
We know you’ll enjoy these road trips through the natural wonders of the Cookeville area. For more ideas, check out Carve the Cumberland to get information on all 12 of our amazing scenic drive suggestions. Make sure to call ahead to get hours on any destinations you want to stop at, or check them out online. We hope to see you soon!