Conceived as a long-distance hiking trail, the 300-mile Cumberland Trail, the only linear park in the state, from the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park on the Tennessee-Virginia-Kentucky border to the Signal Point near Chattanooga. The trail now is a resource for many types of recreational activities. Hikers, backpackers and explorers are still the heart of the trail groups, rock climbers, trail runners, bird watchers, swimmers, rappellers, fishermen and others are growing users of the trail. About 185 miles of the proposed 300 have been built, with 28,000 acres acquired.
Unique geologic features along the trail include Mushroom Rock in Sequatchie County, waterfalls, bluffs, overlooks, rock houses, arches, stream and a large variety of spectacular plant life. Among the rare plants found on the trail are large flowered skullcap and Virginia spirea. The Cumberland Mountains and its escarpment once represented a barrier to all who dared to traverse storied gaps westward through the Cumberland Plateau. The Cumberland Trail now provides a linkage north to south, forming natural connections and opportunities for scenic vistas as it traces along the crests of the plateau. The Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park is a new kind of park for Tennessee, named in recognition of Wilson's leadership in catalyzing partnerships to complete this trail.
Included in the trail’s area are the Head of the Sequatchie and the 900 acres of the historically significant Dayton Coal and Iron Company industrial complex. Staff members have gathered oral histories to capture the voices and memories of the park’s neighbors and predecessors. The interviews cover a variety of subject matter, including music heritage, land use history, early trail development and local lore. Publications and print files are being preserved digitally, and the staff hosts a weekly radio show on WDVX.com, carrying listeners on a musical journey through the Cumberland Trail corridor.
The Cumberland Trail includes a 185-mile network of access trails and side trails and joins the National Park Service trail system. Day hiking is popular at Laurel-Snow State Natural Area, North Chickamauga Creek Gorge and the “three gorges” segment of the Cumberland Trail.
Backcountry campsites are available throughout the trail system.
Check back soon for more events, or visit our event page for events in other parks.
Outdoor writer Evan Means began talking about a Cumberland Trail park in 1965. In 1970, Bowater Southern Paper Corp. began creating pocket wilderness areas on company land. The following year, the Tennessee Trails System Act established seven state scenic trails, including Cumberland Trail.
Today, Pine Mountain Trail in Kentucky meets Tennessee’s Cumberland Trail at Tri-State Peak in Cumberland Gap National Park. The trail passes through 11 Tennessee counties and several state and federal areas, including Cove Lake State Park, Frozen Head, Obed National Wild and Scenic River and Prentice Cooper State Forest.
The Cumberland Trail Conference hosts many trail-building activities throughout the year and brings together students from across the country to build a portion of the trail in Alternative Spring Break program. Trailbuilders’ Reunion will take place in June. The Friends of the Cumberland Trail organization cosponsors Seeding the Cumberlands, an initiative to preserve native flora of the Cumberland Plateau, and Wilson Farm Family Day and Hiketoberfest, two popular fall events.
Devil Step Hollow Cave, although closed to the public, houses Native American art and significant archaeological resources.
Hunting is allowed within Flipper Bend Unit of the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge, under Cumberland Trail management.
220 Park Road
Caryville, TN 37714
Phone: (423) 566-2229
Fax: (423) 566-2290
The Cumberland Trail can be accessed from the following
state parks and state natural areas:
Cove Lake State Park,
Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area,
Ozone Falls State Natural Area,
Piney Falls State Natural Area,
Piney Creek State Natural Area,
Laurel-Snow State Natural Area,
Stinging Fork Falls State Natural Area,
North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area.
8:00 a.m. until sunset