Cumberland Trail Conference, a Tennessee State Scenic Hiking Trail.

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BreakAway 2012
BreakAway 2011
BreakAway 2010
BreakAway 2009
BreakAway 2008
BreakAway 2007
BreakAway 2006
BreakAway 2005
BreakAway 2004
BreakAway 2003
BreakAway 2002
BreakAway 2001
BreakAway 2000
BreakAway 1999
BreakAway 1998
BreakAway 1997

Cumberland Trail BreakAway
What is BreakAway ?
BreakAway is an Alternative Spring Break program hosted by the Tennessee Trails Association (TTA) and Cumberland Trail Conference (CTC).  College students from across the country pay their own way to come to Tennessee to work on the Cumberland Trail along with TTA/CTC volunteers. Students and volunteers stay in East Tennessee and participate in trail building/maintenance for a week.  BreakAway also provides for educational opportunities about the environment, history, geology, flora and fauna along the Cumberland Trail.  Each college is limited to a maximum of 12 participants for this program. BreakAway participants must be affiliated with a BreakAway sanctioned school and have a site leader present.

BreakAway volunteers on new stepsWhat is the Cumberland Trail ?
The Cumberland Trail (CT) is a rugged, historical trail celebrating the heritage of Tennessee.  The Cumberland Trail, when completed, will be a 300-plus mile trail beginning at Cumberland Gap National Park on the northern border of Tennessee/Kentucky and ending in the "Grand Canyon" of Tennessee, the Tennessee River Gorge in Chattanooga.  The Cumberland Trail was designated a State Scenic Trail in 1971, and a State Park in 1998.  In September 2002 it was renamed the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park.  It has been recognized as the official Millennium Legacy Trail for Tennessee!  The Cumberland Trail is managed by the Cumberland Trail Conference (CTC), an associate organization of TTA.

What is the Tennessee Trails Association ?
The Tennessee Trails Association (TTA) is a non-profit, all volunteer organization established in 1969. Their mission is to build and maintain a statewide system of hiking trails, to lead hikes so people can enjoy these trails, and to work for the conservation of resources inherent to this objective.  TTA is also a sponsor for the Cumberland Trail.  There are fifteen chapters of TTA across the state.  TTA publishes a monthly newsletter with information on organized hikes, trail projects, and articles of interest to outdoor enthusiasts.  TTA is funded by membership dues, an annual fundraising auction and donations.  You can visit their website at

What is the Cumberland Trail Conference?
The Cumberland Trail Conference (CTC) was formed in 1997, as an associate organization to Tennessee Trails Association (TTA).  Our mission is to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of Tennessee, conserve natural resources, and provide educational and recreational opportunities through the development and completion of the Cumberland Trail Corridor, and to establish a foundation of support by interconnecting local communities within the trail corridor to acquire, maintain, and promote the Cumberland Trail.  TTA/CTC publishes a newsletter and hosts numerous program outings on the Cumberland Trail.  TTA/CTC is a non-profit organization funded by grants and donations.
An Impromptu Discussion of Forest diversity
An Impromptu Discussion of Forest diversity

What will I do as a BreakAway Participant?
Trail duties include: using fire rakes to clear leaf cover on the trail, using hand clippers and pocket saws to clear small limbs and bushes from the trail corridor, using mattocks to make a level trail by cutting into hillsides and ridges, installing water bars to control erosion, building rock steps and footbridges, and painting blazes on trees in order to mark the trail. Most of the work is done by groups of 4-6 people working with TTA/CTC volunteers on a particular section of the trail.  Since the trail runs through isolated areas, it is necessary to hike into the work areas. Therefore, plan to hike from 5-10 miles per day.

Work Schedule, Lodging, Food, and Miscellaneous Details:
Arrival: Plan to arrive by 3:00 PM on the Sunday before you are scheduled to work on the trail. This will allow you time to eat and attend an orientation session.

Daily Schedule:
Varies with work site.  Typical schedule is to leave at 7:30 AM to drive to the trailhead.  Expect to drive about 30-45 minutes to reach the trailhead.  Once at the trailhead, we will hike into work area and continue doing trail work until lunch. Educational sessions while on the trail will occur daily.  After lunch, work on trail until around 3:00 PM.  At 3:00-3:30 PM, begin hike back to vans to return to lodging.  Evening activities are planned, as well as reflection sessions.

Lodging is to be paid for by either the University or the student.  The TTA/CTC will handle lodging arrangements.
Lunch Break Presentation On Early Settlers Use of Area Wild Plants
Lunch Break Presentation On Early Settlers Use of Area Wild Plants

Food: Meals will be provided by TTA/CTC.  Meals will include: Dinner on Sunday; Breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; breakfast only on Wednesday and Saturday. Since Wednesday is a free day to explore the local area, students will be responsible for meals.  The students will make lunch (with food provided by TTA/CTC) during the breakfast hour before leaving each morning since lunchtime will be out on the trail.  Students will also be responsible for their own snack food beyond the designated mealtimes.

Miscellaneous Details:

Equipment and Clothing: Trail work is dirty.  Wear old, comfortable clothes.  Either hiking boots or some other type of boot is necessary in order to protect your feet.  Tennis shoes do not provide enough protection or traction for trail work and will not be allowed on the trail.  Rain gear should also be packed.  You will need to have backpacks or fanny packs to carry lunch and water during the workday.  Two quarts of water per person is recommended.

Medical: Trail work is physically demanding, so participants should be in good to excellent physical condition.  Potential participants should be screened for medical conditions that might prove to be harmful to them while working on the trail.

Roads and Driving Information: The roads to the trailheads may be gravel.  The drivers of the school vehicle should be familiar with driving on loose gravel.

Weather: March in Tennessee is usually mild (40-70 degrees).  Winter clothing should be brought in case the temperature goes below freezing.  Rain is likely in March.  Daily and weekly work schedules will be altered if it is raining hard when it is time to depart for the trailhead.

Alcohol: TTA/CTC has a no alcohol/drugs policy for our BreakAway program.  This includes the lodging facility, meeting areas, the surrounding property, and trail.  This should be taken into account when recruiting students for our Spring BreakAway program.

For additional information and/or to obtain an application for BreakAway, please email us or contact us.  Contact information is at bottom of page.

Bob Brown teaches BreakAway student about the wonders of the Cumberland Plateau plant species.
Bob Brown teaches BreakAway students about the wonders of the Cumberland Plateau plant species.  He has studied the flora of the Tennessee mountains extensively and willingly shares his expertise.

Click HERE to learn more about the Break Away alternative break program or how to get your school qualified as a Break Away sponsor school.
Discovery of Rattlesnake-plantain prompts a discussion with students
Discovery of Rattlesnake Plantain prompts a discussion with students

Email the Cumberland Trail Conference

Send email to

Cumberland Trail Conference
409 Thurman Ave, Suite 102
Crossville, TN 38555
(931) 456-6259