Fall is the perfect time to get outdoors and go for a hike, and there’s no shortage of places to hike in Cookeville, Tennessee. Whether you simply love nature, or you are an avid hiker, fisher, outdoor enthusiast, we have something for you. Here are a few things to help you plan, including places to eat, how to pack, and where to go.
Start Your Morning Early and Strong
Aside from packing a few snacks in your backpack, begin your morning with some caffeine. Take your pick between local legendary donut landmarks; will you be team Ralph’s Donuts or team Big O Donuts? Get a cup of joe at Buffalo Brewhouse inside Crossfit Mayhem, or Soul Craft Coffee’s special espressos, mochas, and lattes (try their homemade poptarts too) to get you started. There’s also The Lovely Brew in Monterey for those going that direction, or Red Oak Roasters & Bakery in Algood! A good breakfast gives you the energy for the day!
Prepare For Your Hike
You want to be prepared for a day out on the trails. First, wear comfortable hiking boots or appropriate shoes. Then, get a reliable backpack from Cumberland Mountain Sports, and start stocking up on essentials. Check the weather, but always pack extra layers, so you’re covered if things turn expectedly cool or it starts raining. Here’s a quick checklist to go by: map, water, non-perishable snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen, first aid kit, insect repellent, pocket knife, and flashlight. If you’re planning on fishing or some other form of wildlife recreation, you can pick up some gear at Outdoor Junction. Be sure to have the right type of fishing license!
You can also plan out your full trails experience on helpful apps like AllTrails, where you can get deeper information about each trail and its difficulty, scenery and more; download the Tennessee State Parks app too, and stay up to date on closings and more. We’ve listed some popular areas in Cookeville below for your convenience.
Bring Extra Fuel
Depending on where your trail is, you may want to take a hardy lunch with you on your outdoor excursion. Many of our local eateries offer to-go meals available for carryout, so you can simply pick it up on the way. Try a boxed lunch with a customized sandwich, salad and side from Back Room Bistro or spring rolls and pho from Sweet Boba Cafe. You can explore some crowd favorites at Father Tom’s Pub, like The Nine Iron sandwich or The Ollie burger. If you have the time for some libations with your lunch, check out 37 Cedar Restaurant and Bar for some of the best combos in town.
Hit the Trails
Your bag is packed, your tank is full, and it’s time to start the adventure! Which trail do you choose? That’s up to you! Cookeville, Tennessee has a vast array of places from which to start. For nearby hikes that are easy, start with Bee Rock Overlook, a sort of “mystical shrine” for many who venture there, or City Lake Falls; at just over a half a mile, City Lake Falls is great for leisurely walks and nature trips on a paved trail. For a longer drive and more moderate hiking level, you can explore vast lakes, caverns and terrain at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park, near Big South Fork National Park, or at Window Cliffs State Natural Area, where you can find great bird watching.
After a day out in the woods and among nature trails, enjoy a cold brew and some mouthwatering local food. Get the best steak in town, or the biggest burger, at Char Steak Lounge. The ribeye is a top pick by local and Fittest on Earth Rich Froning. They also have famous smoked chicken wings. You can have a smorgasbord of food options at The Blue Pig, from street tacos and nachos to platters with ribs, chicken, pork, shrimp, and more. In the mood for something upscale? Choose from short rib, ribeye, salmon, or pasta at Mauricio’s Italian Restaurant. Last but not least, take a friend to get some good southern food at Seven Senses Food & Cheer, sure to satisfy “the pickiest of palates.” Get a fill of their fresh southern comfort recipes—a diversity of offerings that includes Chicken Mac, Tennessee Meatloaf, Reuben and various sandwiches, Kristen’s Stir Fry, and even Blackened Mahi Mahi.
At the end of the day, visiting Cookeville, Tennessee makes a great day trip but an even better overnight experience. There’s so much to do and see, and you don’t want to miss out on the fun! You can explore places to stay here, or simply plan more trips where you can play around town. We’ll meet you outdoors.