By Jeremy Patton
Eagle Falls is located in Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in McCreary County, Kentucky. The 44-foot waterfall plummets into a pool that empties into the Cumberland River, not far downriver from Cumberland Falls.
From the Cumberland Falls Visitor Center, turn right onto KY 90 and cross Gatliff Bridge into McCreary County. Drive about half a mile and look for a parking area on your right at the beginning of Trail #9. The parking area is small but there is usually space available.
Trail #9 meanders about 1.5 miles and ends at Eagle Falls. Part of the trail makes a loop but stay on the section that follows the river if you want to proceed directly to Eagle Falls.
Trail #9 is moderately difficult. It starts out hugging the river then gradually climbs the cliffs, providing great views of Cumberland Falls. Later, the trail descends sharply and makes use of a steel staircase before approaching the river again, weaving through massive boulders.
The steel staircase was installed in recent years. When I was young, Eagle Falls Trail was far more treacherous, with nothing more than a cable attached to the cliffside to aid your descent to the Cumberland River.
The shady waterfall and pool is an adequate reward for the effort. This area is also attractive because, unlike Cumberland Falls, you have to work hard to reach it, so you will encounter fewer tourists.
While atop the cliffs, watch for a natural arch in the making, just to the left of the trail. I call it Eagle Falls Arch. It is a small window in the back of a deep rock shelter, for now, but time might hew it into an impressive arch.
Keep in mind that parts of Trail #9 might be under water during flooding, which could make reaching Eagle Falls via this route dangerous.
Added 4/3/14 – Updated 8/16/16