Exploring Tennessee: Hiking more than 300 miles on the Cumberland Trail

At Cumberland Trail State Park you can do everything from an easy hike to backcountry camping
Published: Nov. 2, 2023 at 6:04 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2023 at 7:50 PM EDT
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CUMBERLAND CO., Tenn. (WVLT) - Soon you’ll be able to explore more than 300 miles of trail at the Cumberland Trail State Park with volunteers leading the way to see the project through to fruition.

The cooler weather sets the perfect scene to explore fall colors and the caves along the Cumberland Trail.

Less than a mile into the hike you can find the Black Mountain Overlook.

“We have plenty of day hikes, so it’s not just long distance backpacking or hiking,” Park Manager Anthony Jones said. “We have areas all along the trail, Laurel Snow State, Black Mountain, here at the head of Sequatchie.”

The park offers some beautiful spots for hiking and camping with your loved ones. The main perk is it’s all free. It is backcountry camping, meaning you’re only allowed to stay in a tent.

“Our leaves are starting to turn and this is our main season,” Jones said. “Our camping registrations have spiked over the last few weeks. We have some of the most beautiful hikes Black Mountain Overlook overlooking Grassy Cove.”

The state park got its roots as a state scenic trail in 1971, and officially became the 53rd state park back in 1998.

“In 1976-78, Evan Means, Sam Powell and state naturalist Mack Pritchard came up with the idea of the Cumberland Trail, which would be a hiking trail running from one end of the state running parallel to the other,” Jones said.

Once fully completed, the trail will expand a total of 300 miles from the Cumberland Gap all the way south to Chattanooga. The state parks service is still buying pieces of the trail but construction is well underway.

“We get out with hand tools and sometimes machinery, and construct the trail,” Executive Director of the Cumberland Trails Conference Savana Keeton said. “It’s hard labor, I always tell people who come out it’s hard manual labor, but we construct the walking trail.”

Volunteers and park rangers finished the walking trails and played a crucial role in this project.

“An organization, The Tennessee Trails Association, started a subchapter called the Cumberland Trails Conference and they started picking up the pace with volunteer efforts and constructing the trail and we are still doing that today,” Keeton said.

The Cumberland Trail State Park is just 90 minutes west of Knoxville.

The trail provides the perfect chance to enjoy a peaceful afternoon with friends and family in East Tennessee.