Location: Allardt, Tenn.
Acreage: 165 acres.
Activities: Hiking, exploring.
The 165-acre Colditz Cove State Natural Area is a stunning gorge and upland area surrounding Northrup Falls, a 60-ft. waterfall that ranks as one of the most impressive in Tennessee. The forests around the waterfall are home to 200-year-old hemlocks and white pines, as well as several rare animals like the Black Mountain dusky salamander and the woodland jumping mouse.
In the 1800s, a family named Northrup settled in this location just outside the German village of Allardt, and operated a mill along Big Branch Creek just above the falls. Prior to that, the rock houses near the falls had first been used by cliff-dwelling woodland Indians for shelter more than 3,000 years ago.
The Tennessee legislature established Colditz Cove State Natural Area in 1973, to protect 30 acres of land that included Northrup Falls. Another 42.5 acres of land were added in 1984 when Arnold and Rudolph Colditz — brothers whose parents had migrated to the Cumberlands to settle in Allardt — donated the property to the state. Another 93 acres were purchased in 2001.
A rich scenic vista
Colditz Cove is home to a 1.43-mile hiking trail that leads visitors through the natural area, and includes beautiful views of Northrup Falls. The hike is a relatively easy one, and is beautiful any time of the year.
The spray field from the waterfall creates a rich and diverse habitat on the rock ledges underneath and beside the falls. There are a variety of ferns, sedges and other plants. Calling the area home are rare animals like the Black Mountain dusky salamander, the woodland jumping mouse, the smoky shrew, the pygmy shrew and the southeastern shrew.