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 Tennessee Cumberland Trail stretch of the Great Eastern complements the legendary Appalachian Trail.
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.
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