With my wife's summer classes over and me having a weekend off from work, we decided it was time to go hiking again. Between her school and my work schedule, we have not had much time to get away from the house other than for the necessary trips. I began looking for the place to go and a new waterfall on Tuesday and by Wednesday had decided on the Cumberland Trail. I will confess that I am developing a love hate relationship with this trail. I love it because it is a long distance trail within Tennessee, and like the Benton MacKaye Trail, is only about an hour, probably less, from my house. I also love the views you get from being on top of the plateau and the many waterfalls that the trail goes by. See it is these waterfalls that help me to convince the wife that we should hike on this trail. If the Benton MacKaye Trail had as many waterfalls close by we would probably have hiked more of it. The hate part of the relationship is that it is incomplete. I know it takes years to finalize a trail's path and even then it is changed over time, but the Cumberland Trail Conference appears to only be working on connecting the northern end of the trail. Now before I go too far, I don't want people to think I do not know about or have forgotten the 30 miles of trail in the Three Gorges Section, because I haven't. It is just that other than that and the Mullen's Cove Loop there are not any substantial parts of the trail connected below Crossville. I really appreciate all of the hard work that the trail crews and the trail maintainers put into keeping the trail open for everyone to enjoy. I guess I am part of the Gimme Generation and wish that the trail was open NOW, but I know that once it is completed it will be a trail that has been well worth the wait.
|This is a screen capture of my track using the AllTrails app|
|This is the trail map given by the Cumberland Trail Conference on their website|
|The Trail head|
|The Right Hand Turn about .8 miles from Trail Head|
After about a mile and a quarter, I could hear the waterfall, which was the second reason I chose this trail to hike. We were coming around a bend in the trail and could just make out the stream from the bottom of the waterfall when my brain screamed STOP! So I stopped and looked down. There laid out in on the side of the trail with the in-law's dog standing beside it was a five foot long black snake sunning itself. I called the in-law's dog back to me and began to check the snake out. I looked to see if it was digesting anything, but saw no large lumps along its length. Then I looked to see if it was shedding its skin, which it wasn't. I said, "Well snake will you let us pass or do we need to take the long way around?" I took a step towards it, but like I was walking past it, and it took off like a shot down the side of the trail and back to the creek. Both dogs finally saw the snake at that point. I put my heart back in my chest and we walked over to the waterfall. It was running fairly well and my wife got several good shots of it with her camera. I was having to hold the dogs and had forgotten my camera at home. The previous shots were all taken with my iPhone and I just have never been able to master taking a good waterfall picture with a phone. So we hit the waterfall at about a mile and a quarter, like I said earlier. We rested for about five minutes and went on.
I knew that at two miles, according to the mileage listed on the CT's website, that there would be an overlook. I mentally picked the overlook as my turn around spot. The trail runs for a total of about 5 miles, but we were not physically ready for a 10 mile day and neither were the dogs. So we hiked on. The trail got a little rougher here. There were rocks that we had to go between and climb over; nothing too hard just large enough rocks to make the trail interesting and the trail was well marked in this area. I knew that we had made a decent climb up from the car so far and was beginning to feel it. The trail began to switchback more that it had previously. My special day pack was letting me know it was there. I checked my phone and we had hit the two mile mark. Thinking that my phone was off, I asked my wife what her Fitbit told her she had walked and it said two miles as well. Then both dogs laid down in the trail. They just decided they were done. I pulled out the water and bowl and gave them some more water. We all sat down then and took about a ten minute break. Mia the Hiking Chihuahua was ready to get back on the trail but my Scout, the in-law's dog, was ready to go to the car. I looked at the map and figured that we had at least a quarter of a mile more before we made it to the overlook. I knew then that either the mileage on the website was a tad bit off or our two mileage trackers were off, possibly even both. So, without making it to the overlook, we decided to go back to the car. The trip back to the car was just as enjoyable as the trip up the side of the plateau, just without any snake sightings. On the whole, I would love to do this hike again, maybe catch it after a couple of days of good rain as there is another waterfall a little ways after the first overlook. Maybe this section will be linked with another soon and some overnight camping would be in order, you know so that I could possibly have a real reason to be carrying that 90 liter pack.
Directions: From Soddy Daisy, continue north on 27, turning left onto TN 303 for 0.4 mile, then right onto Dayton Avenue (still TN 303).Take the first left onto Pikeville Avenue for 1.6 miles as the road becomes Pikeville Blvd./Brayton Mountain Road. Just after a sharp curve left, the dirt and gravel parking area for the trailhead is on the right. The Foot, a local bar, is a cinder-block building on the left. (Borrowed from the CT website). I just put 1721 Brayton Mountain Rd, Graysville, TN into my GPS and it got me there. I did watch the linked video a couple of times just so I knew what to look for.