5 Great Hikes: Cumberland Trails Tennessee

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The Cumberland Trails in Tennessee follow the eastern slope of the Cumberland Plateau and Cumberland Mountains. The trails cover eleven counties and two time zones. They cover hundreds of miles of rugged terrain.

The trails give you access to the region’s diverse ecosystems, its rich history, and its culture.

Cumberland Trails
(Credit: U.S. Government Image, Public Domain)

Cumberland Trails: Overview

Cumberland Trails State Park is a popular park for hikers and nature lovers. The park offers a variety of trails through with lush forests and spectacular gorges. Hikers find breathtaking views and lots of chances to explore.

The trail’s history dates back to the mid 19th century. The routes were first made to access the region’s rich resources. Over time, the trails were improved and extended. They now allow access to many of the region’s most well known areas.

The Cumberland Trails offer a stunning overview of Tennessee’s natural landscapes. Hikers love the:

  • Cascading waterfalls
  • Towering ridges
  • Gorges

Cumberland Trails: System History

The Cumberland Trails have a long history. Their history goes back to the late 1800s. A group of hikers known as the Cumberland Trail Explorers had vision of a single trail system. The hikers wanted to connect the Cumberland Mountains and Plateau.

Over the years, these hikers and others worked hard to buy the land to create the trail. In 2017, the Cumberland Trails State Park opened. Now the park has over 300 miles of great trails.

The trails take you through lush forests and open meadows. From their rugged ridges to their peaceful gorges, everyone will enjoy the Cumberland Trails.

Cumberland Trails: Terrain Types

The Cumberland Trails system offers a variety of trails for hikers to explore. From rocky ridges to the deep gorges, the trails take you through beautiful, wild landscapes.

The trail also passes through some of the most remote areas in the state and offers many unique hikes. Whether you’re looking for a difficult or an easy hike these trails have something for everyone.

What To Expect On The Cumberland Trails

Exploring Cumberland Trails can be a rewarding experience with stunning mountain and forest views. You also see plenty of wildlife and all kinds of plants. Whether you are an experienced hiker or a novice, the Cumberland Trails State Park has something to offer you.

Mountain And Forest Views

Mountain and Forest Views are among the most remarkable sights to see when you hike these trails. From the top of the Cumberland Plateau, hikers look across the ridges, valleys, and streams that make up the landscape.

The Cumberland Mountain’s have stunning views! As the sun rises you see a patchwork of evergreen forests, rocky cliffs, and lush meadows. The setting sun casts a warm glow over the forests for a magical day’s end. Even at night, shining stars lighten the dark sky.

Wildlife And Plants

The Cumberland Trail offers a breathtaking journey through Tennessee’s mountains and lush forests. With each step, hikers see the wildlife and plants that make their home along the trails.

Birds of prey fly over the ridges. Wildflowers bloom along the trails. The area has deer, wild turkey, and other small animals. The plant life gives the trails a stunning backdrop.

Spring wildflowers that carpet the trails with brilliant color include:

  • Trillium
  • Rue anemone
  • Bloodroot

Trees that shade the trails during the hot summers and show their fall colors include:

  • Hemlock
  • Oak
  • Hickory

Safety Tips

Safety Tips for hiking in Cumberland Trails State Park include:

  • Prepare for the hike: Review the trail map. Plan hikes match your skill level. Find a safe timeline for completing the hike. Include rest stops or detours. Bring a trail map. Mark any points of interest or hazards.
  • Check the trail’s weather conditions. Dress for the weather.
  • Tell family or friends your plans.
  • Bring essential supplies: Bring extra layers of clothing. The mountain weather changes with little notice.
  • Rocks and roots are common along these trails. Wear sturdy hiking boots or hiking shoes.
  • Pack:
    • Snacks and plenty of water
    • A first aid kit
    • A charged cell phone.
  • Stay on the trail: When you’re on the trail, be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the terrain. The Cumberland Trails have lots of ridges and gorges. It is easy to take a wrong turn and end up on a dangerous part of the trail or lost off trail. Stay safe, know the trail’s layout. Stay on the marked trail!
  • Be aware of the time of day: The Cumberland Mountains and Cumberland Plateau have beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Still, you need to get off the trails before dark. This is especially true in the winter months when the sun sets earlier.
  • You want to find out what animals live in the area. Look for them, and be careful.

Cumberland Trails To Explore

You will love exploring these 5 great trails.

  1. Black Mountain Trail: steep, long, rocky path that offers spectacular views and thrilling terrain
  2. Cumberland Trail: Piney River Trail: enchanting hike with lush valleys and mountains
  3. Cumberland Trail: South Soddy Creek Gorge Section: amazing view of the rocky terrain
  4. Stevenson Branch Falls: hidden gem and a spot you have to see
  5. Strip Mine Falls via Cumberland Trail: breathtaking mountain views

For more information about Cumberland Trails, see the AllTrails app. The free app has helpful information. The premium app has lots of useful hiking information including offline maps.

Black Mountain Trail

The Black Mountain Trail is a breathtaking hike through Tennessee’s natural beauty. This trail offer a wide choice of thrilling backcountry hikes. The trail has stunning views of rolling hills and lush forests.

As you hike the trail, you’ll spot wildlife like:

  • Deer
  • Wild turkeys
  • Even black bears

The trail is full of one of a kind and interesting features that you won’t find anywhere else.

Cumberland Trails
(Credit: Michael Hicks, CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED)

Things To Know

  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Trail type: Out & back
  • Distance: 8.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,620 feet
  • Dogs: On leash

Cumberland Trails: Piney River Trail

The Piney River Trail calls you to hike its captivating ridges and gorges. This trail has one of the most scenic sections. The trail twists its way beside the Piney River for almost 12 miles. Hikers love the beautiful:

  • Lush forests
  • Cascading waterfalls
  • Dramatic cliffs

The trail offers a peaceful break from life’s hustle and bustle. The trail has breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Things To Know

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail type: Out & back
  • Distance: 7.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 974 feet
  • Dogs: On leash

Cumberland Trail: South Soddy Creek Gorge Section

If you want an unforgettable hike, take this trail. The trail is in a rugged, remote area. The trail has a stunning landscape with rocky outcrops along your hike. Hikers enjoy breathtaking views of:

  • The gorge
  • Waterfalls
  • Lush plant life

This is a very challenging trail. The trail features steep climbs and downhills. The reward at the end of the trail is a breathtaking waterfall and swimming hole.

A long hike, so download a map to help you stay on the trail.

Cumberland Trails
(Credit: Michael Hicks, CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED)

Things To Know

  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Trail type: Out & back
  • Distance: 9.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,305 feet
  • Dogs: On leash

Stevenson Branch Falls

Nestled in mountain foothills this trail’s beauty has no equal. Hikers get a stunning view of the surrounding landscape. The area has lush greenery and a host of wildlife.

The falls are a sight to see! The falls have cascading waters tumbling over jagged rocks. Water rushing over the rocks gives you an impressive sound and motion show.

Things To Know

  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Trail type: Out & back
  • Distance: 6.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,276 feet
  • Dogs: On leash

Strip Mine Falls via Cumberland Trail

One of the most breathtaking hiking trails is the Strip Mine Falls Via Cumberland Trail. This is a perfect trail if you want a thrilling hike. It is a great trail to explore the beauty of nature since it offers stunning mountain and ridge views.

The trail has a steep, difficult climb. You will be glad you made the effort when you see the marshy wetlands and rocky cliffs.

Things To Know

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail type: Out & back
  • Distance: 2.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 623 feet
  • Dogs: On leash

Cumberland Trails: Rules For A Great Hike

Rules help protect the Cumberland Trails’ natural beauty and resources. Three kinds of rules help preserve the park:

  1. Leave No Trace
  2. Respect Wildlife
  3. Stay On The Trail

Leave No Trace

As you hike the Cumberland Trails follow the Leave No Trace guidelines. They help keep the area natural for future generations. Leave No Trace reduces the human impact on nature. The seven guidelines include:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Reduce campfire impact.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Care for other visitors.

Practice these to protect:

  • The environment
  • The wildlife
  • Other hikers

Respect Wildlife

Remember to respect wildlife and their homes as you hike the trail. Keep your distance, and never feed the wildlife.

Animals may seem friendly. Still, you want to keep your distance to avoid danger. When you see a wild animal, watch and enjoy them from a distance.

Also, avoid disturbing or tampering with nests and dens. These are the animal’s homes should be left undisturbed.

When you finish your hike, leave the area as you found it. Carry out any trash you have.

Stay On The Trail

As you hike along the ridge lines and through the gorges, you need to stay on the trails. Trail markers and signs show you the trail. Markers may show you the trail’s direction by:

  • A trail blaze
  • An arrow
  • An animal symbol

Be sure you always stay on the trail! Going off trail causes erosion and damages the landscape. To maintain the trail’s beauty, stay on the trail!

Also stay on the trails for your safety. Most hiking accidents happen when hikers leave the marked trail.

Places to Stay

Chattanooga is a vibrant city located within the Cumberland Mountains. The city is close to Cumberland Trails State Park.

The city has a rich history. The history dates back to the early 1800s. In the 1800s, it was a major stagecoach stop along the Cumberland Trail.

When you go hiking, Chattanooga has places to stay that fit any budget. With a distinct charm, Chattanooga is a great place to stay during a Cumberland Trails’ hiking trip. The city has all you need and want. The city has charming bed and breakfasts, luxury hotels. and great restaurants.

Chattanooga History

The city of Chattanooga has a long, colorful history. The city’s history stretches back to its earliest inhabitants in the late 16th century. The Cherokee and Creek tribes were the first people in the area. The city saw many changes over the years.

In the late 1800s, the city became a transportation hub. The Western & Atlantic Railroad right through the city.

Chattanooga earned a nickname, “The Scenic City”. Tourists from all over see the sights and enjoy the city.

Through the 20th century, Chattanooga grew. The city became a major city in the industrial revolution. Today, Chattanooga is a lively, modern city.

How Did Chattanooga Get Its Name?

The city’s first names were Ross’s Landing and Lookout City. In the 1830s, the town got the name Chattanooga.

This name is an English version of the Cherokee word “tsatanugi,”. The word translates to “rock coming to a point.” This name was chosen to mark the city’s location near Lookout Mountain.

Summary: Cumberland Trails

The Cumberland Trails offer a unique opportunity to explore the stunning Cumberland Mountains and Plateau. With a wide variety of trails to choose from, hikers can enjoy the area’s beauty and the wildlife that lives there. From breathtaking views to challenging hikes, the Cumberland Trails have something to offer every hiker.

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