Sunday, April 21, 2013
Cumberland Mountain Segment - Cumberland Trail
Cumberland Trail to rock overlook back to shelter 9.5
Shelter to trailhead via Volunteer trail 10
Total Miles 19.5
Lora and I headed to the Cumberland Mountain Segment of the Cumberland Trail. We started at the trailhead next to Cove Lake State Park in Caryville, TN. The trail will climb the Devils Racetrack (as pictured above) and go the length of Cumberland Mountain.
The trail starts on Bruce Gap Road and follows I-75 for a couple of miles until you climb the Devils Racetrack. During that couple of miles you see a lot of wildflowers as you go by several wet areas and streams followed by hillside walking where the trail is pinched between the interstate and Shelton Hollow Lane. We got to watch a doe and her youngster feeding as they did not hear or see us. When we moved on they took off. From here you drop down to Bruce Creek and climb it upstream past the man made water falls. A bridge will take you across Bruce Creek and then you start the steep assent of Cumberland Mountain and the Devils Racetrack.
There is a beautiful 360 degree view from the top of the Racetrack. The rock formation that you see of the Racetrack continues the full length of Cumberland Mountain. The trail follows the rock lines and often the rock ridges are the trail. It is an amazing formation and really cool to hike such a mountain. The area between the rock formations is like a bowl or valley. I have never seen a Mountain like this one. You are ridge walking the entire way which is also a lot of ups and downs.
5.6 miles into the trail you come to a gravel road and then a house. They have built a fancy fence there and a gate for hikers to walk out to Eagle Bluff which gives you another aerial view of Jacksboro and Lafollette. You can see the fingers of Norris Lake as well. From there you get back on the trail and hike the ridges until you get to another one of the long skinny rock formations that have a hole in it called Window Rock. I just had to climb through the window to see the other side.
From Window Rock you continue to walk the ridge and then you drop down between the ridges and the trail drops down to a wet spring area and then follows the bottom of the other ridge as the springs come together to form a good creek. Just past this creek is the shelter which is in really good shape. We set up camp by the shelter and gathered our water and firewood. After dinner, while we still had daylight, we continued on down the trail 0.3 miles to the last really good overlook which they label the Rock Climb which is back on top of the rock ridge. A ladder assists you with the climb up to the magnificent scenic view.
We hiked back to camp and enjoyed the sunset followed by a bright moon and stars. We enjoyed the heat of the campfire as the temperature dropped.
The next morning we hiked back the way we came. We saw the dam of the La Follette Reservoir off to the north and saw some more deer early in the day. When we got to the Volunteer trail we took it which looped around and pass a beaver pond and then comes back into the main trail. It blocked the sound of traffic on that section of the trail a lot better.