The Cumberland Mountain Segment presents 11 miles of the work-in-progress 300-linear mile Cumberland Trail. This is the beginning section that starts in LaFollette and terminates on Signal Mountain in Chattanooga. To hike only this section, park at either of the main trailheads, north or south. Another connection to the trail starts at Cove Lake State Park, midway through the Volunteer Loop. Geology students come from far and wide to inspect the vertical flakes of sandstone that make up the Devil's Racetrack formation and rock climbers come to test their skills. The views of the Powell River Valley and the Cumberland Mountain range are stunning. The wooded trail boasts mountain laurel, rhododendron and blueberry bushes. Parralleling the southern section of trail is Bruce's Creek. Over 20 years ago, this creek was rerouted to reduce flooding in the area. As you pass by the cascading waterfalls, note the multiple vertical drill slices in the rockface in addition to a couple of deep blast holes that were created by the dynamite used to form the new creek route. The pools under these waterfalls look promising for summer swimming holes. At the southern trailhead the route continues on the New River Segment of the Cumberland Trail.
Hiking: The complete trail mileage for this section is 11 miles one-way and is rated moderate to strenuous due to the switchback climbs and rocky terrain. From the trailhead in LaFollette you'll wind along Big Creek and then Ollis Creek before climbing to the crest to traverse the ridgeline. At mile 2.5 there is a magnificent scenic view but it also appears that the trail ends at the rock outcropping. Look for a crevice in the outcropping where the trail continues down. A trail shelter and camping area are located at mile 2.78. Shortly after this marker, the trail crosses and then follows a wet-weather stream. To the right of the stream, look for an opening along the vertical rock wall — this is Window Rock. Continuing another 5.6 miles along the ridge, the main trail will descend to the right, while the side trail continues straight to the Devil's Racetrack Overlook. The main trail continues through the woods, scrambles over sections of scree before running parallel to Interstate 75 for a couple of miles. The interstate noise will interrupt the natural serenity that was once prevalent but it's minimal when compared to the overall beauty on this hike. If you start this hike from the southern trailhead, the distance to the overlook at Devil's Racetrack is 3.2 miles.
Rock Climbing: At Devil's Racetrack there are trad and sport climbs. The rock is solid for the most part, and the bolts and rap anchors are well placed. The link for the climb offers directions to a more direct approach to the rockface along with more info on the routes.