City Lake Natural Area
2010 Bridgeway Dr, Cookeville, Tennessee
A gorgeous park right off I-40 with a 35-acre lake and short, paved hiking trail that runs along a creek and ends at a stunning, large waterfall.
This lake and natural area is a favorite spot among fishermen seeking catfish, bass and bream. As secluded as it may look and feel under the thick treetops or when gliding across the lake, it’s actually just off of I-40 at exit 290.
Kayakers are welcome to tour the 35-acre lake. This is also a great lake for canoes and SUP boards (paddle boards). There is a deck area right by the ramp in the parking area – this is a good spot to fish. You can also sit along the shoreline.
Cool fact: Cookeville’s first water treatment facility was constructed here.
Not only does City Lake offer a lake and fishing area, but there are also a few wooded hiking trails and a 0.6 mile-long paved pathway leading to waterfalls.
If you decided to take the path, you will first come across a historic structure. This is not accessible, and the deck is blocked by a large fallen tree.
There are various trails off the paved pathway that lead to the water. It’s best to wear good shoes if you are planning on getting in the waterway or crossing.
The paved pathway encourages you onward with a subtle siren song. The sound of rushing water creates a sense of anticipation. A song that is faint at first and then becomes a soothing buzz as you make your way right up to the falls.
You will eventually find a lookout deck right by the waterfalls. This provides a really nice vantage point.
Here, you can stand right by the falls and see others on the hillside. The large waterfall and several smaller cascades collide into a rolling creek.
You can follow a few small trails alongside the creek.
There are also a few wooded trails you will pass on the paved pathway including one right before you get to the deck. By the water, you will find some rocks that look like an old staircase. Over time, they have been taken over with moss.
Offering an upstream view, this area feels like a forgotten, magical city. The scattered river rocks are huge. Slowly but inevitably, Mother Nature has had her way and smoothed over even the strongest of stones.
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Standing tall and watching over you are giant, mature trees. There’s no telling what stories they could tell. They provide intermittent shade and breathe a crisp, fresh coolness into the air.
A better name for this place would be: Moss City Lake because almost everything is covered.
This is another beautiful place to see in the Upper Cumberland! If you are traveling through, stop here! It’s a nice midway point between Knoxville and Nashville.
It’s just a minute or two from the Interstate – might as well stop to stretch your legs!