December 4, 2013

50 Miles on the Cumberland Trail

She's a good old hiker and a good old pal, 50 miles on the ........... 

No, it's not the Erie Canal, but Tennessee's Cumberland Trail.  Having just completed more than 50 miles of section hiking on this trail, I hope today's post will enlighten you on the spectacular Cumberland Trail as well as inspire you to get out and enjoy this beautiful section of the southeastern United States.  

The Cumberland Trail is a remote footpath through east Tennessee and when completed, will pass from Kentucky to Georgia through 11 Tennessee counties on the eastern escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau.  The Cumberland Plateau is the most western portion of the Appalachian mountains and extends from West Virginia to northern AlabamaHere is more information on the Cumberland Plateau.  

Currently, the main trail has 126 open miles with 264 miles planned at completion. Of course, there are other trails which are connecting loops, spurs, and access trails that are considered part of the Cumberland Trail. Here is more information on the Cumberland Trail along with a detailed map, and information on the 14 segments currently open for hiking.

Enough details, let’s get to some photographs: 

My first hiking adventure on the Cumberland Trail was in October 2012.  I hiked with the Chattanooga Hiking Club on Signal Mountain to Mushroom Rock during Chattanooga's River Rocks Festival.  Here is more information on the Chattanooga Hiking Club.  (Photograph courtesy of Don Deakins.)

Included in the October 2012 hike was Edwards Point, a rocky ledge overlooking the beautiful Tennessee River.  Here is a map to the Tennessee River Gorge Segment which includes Mushroom Rock and Edwards Point.  

In December 2012, I hiked a portion of the Three Gorges Segment - Possum Creek Section near Soddy Daisy.  Pictured above is Little Possum Creek.  Here is a map to this section of the trail.  (Photograph courtesy of  Scott Piotrowski of Chattanooga Hiking Meetup.) 

Beautiful Imodium Falls was the destination of the December 2012 hike located on Little Possum Creek. It was an "in and out" hike starting at the Heiss Mountain Road trailhead and totaled 11.2 miles.  This is a lovely but strenuous hike.  (Photograph courtesy of Scott Piotrowski and Chattanooga Hiking Meetup.)

The Laurel-Snow Segment, near Dayton, includes both Laurel and Snow Falls. In January 2013, beautiful Laurel Falls was spilling over the gigantic boulders. Here is link to this segment of the trail. 

The trail to Laurel Falls follows beautiful Richland Creek for 1.5 miles and can be an "in and out" hike. 

The 10.-2 mile Mullens Cove Loop is part of the Tennessee River Gorge Segment which starts in the Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife Management Area.   Pictured above is a view of the Tennessee River from Snooper's Rock in January 2013. 

A very scenic brook in beautiful Mullens Cove Gorge.  (Photograph courtesy of Chattanooga Hiking Meetup.) 

In February 2013, an exploration hike to the Three Gorges Segment - Possum Creek Section started at the Retro Hughes Road trailhead and ended at Heiss Mountain Road which is 9.5 miles.  It was a "shuttle" hike as transportation was needed at both trailheads.  If you're considering a shuttle hike of this segment, I suggest starting at Heiss Mountain and ending at Retro Hughes. 

Being a little more adventurous at the top of Imodium Falls on the exploration hike.

Imodium Falls is definitely the highlight of this segment of the Cumberland Trail.   According to the website, it was named by expert kayakers who wished they had taken some of this popular medicine upon approaching this c-shaped waterfall. (Photograph courtesy of Beth Hemann.) 

White Pine Cascades on the beautiful Piney River Segment near Spring City in February 2013.  Here is a link to the 8.46-mile section of the trail which is rated moderate for hiking.

Another beautiful cascade on Piney River. (Photograph courtesy of Chattanooga Hiking Meetup.) 

Three Gorges Segment - Rock Creek which is north of the Possum Creek Section.  Here is a link to this segment of the trail. 

This section was done as a "shuttle hike" starting from the Retro Hughes trailhead and ending at Upper Leggett Road.  Highlights of this section include Rock Creek, beautiful views of the gorge, and stunning rock formations.

Later, I hiked to Snow Falls on the Laurel-Snow Segment in May 2013.  It is a longer hike than Laurel Falls but well worth the additional mileage and stream crossing.  

The 150-foot bridge over Richland Creek on the way to Snow Falls

The third trip to Imodium Falls in October 2013 was a little disappointing.  Unfortunately, the abundant summer rain didn't last until Fall.  

On top of Brady Mountain on the Grassy Cove Segment in November 2013.  Here is a link to this segment of the trail. 

The Brady Mountain Arch. This section of the trail was done as a shuttle hike from Jewett Road trailhead to Highway 68. 

My fourth trek to the Three Gorges Segment - Possum Creek Section started at Heiss Mountain Road and ended at the Retro Hughes trailhead.  Just north of Imodium Falls on Little Possum Creek, these small cascades were a delightful discovery.  

I love sharing the outdoors with others and led my final trek to Imodium Falls for the Chattanooga Hiking Meetup on a beautiful day in late November.  Here is a link to Chattanooga Hiking Meetup.  

Special thanks to Cumberland Trail volunteer Don Deakins for trail maintenance, leading hikes, answering questions, and providing assistance for anything related to the Cumberland Trail. By the way, Don has a wonderful blog, Cumberland Trail Volunteers, and you can view it here.

In case you're wondering, the Cumberland Trail Conference has a 50-miler award which requires 10 hours of trail maintenance.  I hope to complete that 10 hours of trail maintenance soon so I can "Keep On Hiking."


  1. This blog entry should make anyone want to explore Cumberland Trail.

    1. Thank you, Don, for your comments and for all that you do for this trail.

  2. Beautiful! I definitely want to explore the Cumberland Trail

    1. Angela, when you're in the area, just let me know! Would love to share this area with you.

  3. I have tried calling offices to get information on the 50 miler and maybe more,,, can some one help me?