Geography of Cumberland County, Tennessee

By | March 12, 2024

Geography and Climate of Cumberland County, Tennessee

Cumberland County, located in the eastern part of Tennessee, is a region distinguished by its diverse geography, scenic beauty, and rich history. Encompassing an area of approximately 685 square miles, the county is situated in the Cumberland Plateau region, offering residents and visitors alike a unique blend of rugged mountains, rolling hills, and pristine lakes. Check topmbadirectory to learn more about the state of Tennessee.

Topography and Landforms:

Cumberland County’s topography is characterized by its rugged mountains, deep valleys, and expansive plateaus. The county is part of the Cumberland Plateau, a dissected plateau region that extends across much of eastern Tennessee, northern Alabama, and southern Kentucky, and includes several prominent ridges and valleys.

Elevations in Cumberland County vary widely, ranging from around 900 feet above sea level in the valleys to over 3,000 feet at the summits of the Cumberland Plateau’s highest peaks. The county’s terrain is primarily forested, with dense hardwood forests covering much of the landscape, providing habitat for a variety of plant and animal species.

The Cumberland Plateau is intersected by several major rivers and streams, which have carved deep gorges and valleys into the rugged terrain. The Caney Fork River, the Obed River, and the Piney River are among the most significant waterways in Cumberland County, providing habitat for fish, wildlife, and plant species, as well as opportunities for fishing, boating, and whitewater rafting.


Cumberland County experiences a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons, characterized by hot summers, mild winters, and moderate precipitation throughout the year. The county’s location in the Appalachian Mountains influences its climate, with higher elevations experiencing cooler temperatures and more precipitation compared to lower elevations.

Summers in Cumberland County are generally warm and humid, with average temperatures in July ranging from the mid-60s to the low 80s Fahrenheit. High temperatures can occasionally exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, particularly in the valleys, but generally, summers are pleasant and comfortable, with occasional thunderstorms and cool evenings.

Winters are mild and relatively dry, with average temperatures in January ranging from the mid-20s to the low 40s Fahrenheit. Snowfall is infrequent but possible during the winter months, particularly in the higher elevations of the Cumberland Plateau, where accumulations can occur.

Spring and fall are transitional seasons marked by fluctuating temperatures and changing weather patterns. These seasons offer mild temperatures, blooming flowers, and vibrant foliage, making them ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and exploring the county’s natural beauty.

Rivers and Lakes:

Cumberland County is home to several rivers and streams, which play a vital role in shaping the landscape and providing habitat for fish, wildlife, and plant species. In addition to its rivers, the county is also home to several natural and man-made lakes, offering residents and visitors alike opportunities for boating, fishing, and recreational activities.

The largest lake in Cumberland County is Lake Tansi, a man-made reservoir covering approximately 550 acres and offering amenities such as boat ramps, fishing piers, and picnic areas. In addition to Lake Tansi, the county is also home to several other smaller lakes, including Lake Dartmoor, Lake Mohawk, and Lake St. George, which attract anglers, outdoor enthusiasts, and wildlife photographers from around the region.

Vegetation and Ecosystems:

The natural vegetation of Cumberland County consists primarily of mixed hardwood forests, including oak, hickory, and maple, as well as pine stands in upland areas. These forests provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including deer, turkey, and songbirds, as well as opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and nature photography.

Wetlands and riparian habitats are also common in Cumberland County, particularly along the banks of its rivers and streams, providing important habitat for waterfowl, migratory birds, and other aquatic species. These habitats are critical for maintaining water quality, regulating streamflow, and supporting biodiversity in the county.

Agriculture is an important land use in Cumberland County, with crops such as corn, soybeans, and hay being the most common. Livestock farming, including cattle and poultry, is also prevalent in the county, contributing to the local economy and rural character.

Human Impact and Development:

Throughout its history, Cumberland County has been shaped by human activity, from early Native American settlements to European colonization and modern development. The county’s natural resources, including its mountains, rivers, and lakes, have attracted settlers for centuries, leading to the establishment of farming communities, mining towns, and recreational areas.

Today, Cumberland County is known for its outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, boating, and camping. The county is home to several state parks, including Cumberland Mountain State Park, Fall Creek Falls State Park, and Frozen Head State Park, which offer miles of hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and picnic areas.

The city of Crossville, the county seat, is a cultural and economic hub, offering amenities such as shops, restaurants, museums, and galleries. Education, healthcare, and manufacturing are major industries in Cumberland County, with institutions such as Roane State Community College and Cumberland Medical Center serving as major employers and cultural institutions.

Tourism is also a significant industry in Cumberland County, with visitors flocking to the area to experience its natural beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, and scenic landscapes. From its rugged mountains to its pristine lakes, Cumberland County offers a unique blend of natural attractions and small-town charm, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

In conclusion, Cumberland County, Tennessee, offers a diverse and scenic landscape characterized by its mountains, rivers, and lakes. From its historic landmarks to its outdoor recreational opportunities, the county embodies the natural beauty and rural charm of the Cumberland Plateau. As stewards of the land, it is essential to promote responsible development and ensure the long-term sustainability of Cumberland County’s natural resources and quality of life for future generations.