The Cumberland Mountain Segment presents 38 miles of the work-in-progress 300-linear mile Cumberland Trail. This is the beginning segment that starts in LaFollette and terminates on Signal Mountain in Chattanooga.The northern end of the trail is at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. The first gateway to the West was built here, by pioneers like Daniel Boone, creating a route into the Kentucky wilderness and beyond. In 1965, it was here that visionaries and politicians gathered at McLean Rock to announce the establishment of the trail. Ironically, due to a delay in land acquisition, the path here tends to be overgrown, littered, and eroded by ATVs, so the Tennessee Valley Divide Sections can be difficult to navigate. In the future all that will be remedied as most of the land needed for the trail has been acquired. Crews will eventually come north to rebuild and reclaim. Note:The Eagle Bluff Section is currently the only maintained portion of the Cumberland Mountain Segment. Eagle Bluff offers spectacular views of the Powell River Valley to the south and the Cumberland Mountain range to the north.Trail maintenance has not been performed on the Tennessee Valley Divide Section for some time. Expect blown-down trees, vegetation grown in, and places where trail markings are absent. The trail might be difficult to follow at times; other times, you'll follow wide ATV routes. The final section in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is well-maintained at first, but unless there has been recent maintenance, the trail disappears into the forest after a couple of miles.
The section of trail that starts at Cove Lake State Park is visited by Geology students that want to inspect the vertical flakes of sandstone that make up the Devil's Racetrack formation. 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.
Tennessee Valley Divide Section (north) from Wilson Gap to Carr Gap
Distance: 7.8 miles one-way
Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous
Elevation Change: 1000 feet
Cautions: ATV use
Tennessee Valley Divide Section (south) from Tank Springs to Wilson Gap
Distance: 18.5 mile one-way auto access to auto access
Elevation Change: 1,760 feet gain and loss
Cautions: For experienced outdoors people only; trail has not been maintained in several years; until trail is revitalized, navigation will be difficult; numerous ATV trail intersections.
Eagle Bluff Section from Bruce Gap Road Trailhead to Tank Springs Trailhead
Distance: 11.7 miles one-way
Elevation Change: 3,446 feet total climbing
Cautions: Traversing rocky terrain and one area requires rock climbing although there is an alternative bypass route; trail is not well blazed and some route finding skills are necessary.
For details and maps, visit http://www.cumberlandtrail.org/maps-and-guides/trail-segments/cumberland-mountain/
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.