Cumberland Trail Conference, a Tennessee State Scenic Hiking Trail.

About the Cumberland Trail Conference

The Cumberland Trail Conference (CTC) is membership based, affiliate organization of 501(c) (3) nonprofit, Tennessee Trails Association (TTA).  Created in early 1997 by dedicated members of the TTA, the mission of the Cumberland Trail Conference is to build, maintain, acquiring funding for, and promote the Cumberland Trail.  In addition to hiking, the trail helps to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of Tennessee, conserve natural resources, provide educational and recreational opportunities, and connect local communities.  The Cumberland Trail Conference performs based on volunteers, membership contributions, support from various foundations, state and federal grants, and tax-deductible donations from supportive individuals.  The CTC publishes a membership newsletter, providing an information outlet for CT news, notes, activities, and about progress and needs on the trail.

The CTC sponsors various volunteer trail construction and maintenance programs throughout the year.  One of the CTC’s largest volunteer events is BreakAway.  This program allows college and university students the opportunity to give back by helping to create the Cumberland Trail.  To help with trail maintenance, the CTC manages a trail adoption program.  With this program, volunteers adopt various sections of the trail and perform maintenance on their section four times a year.  In addition to volunteer trail events, the CTC hosts spring and fall hiking outings.

The Cumberland Trail Conference office is located at 409 Thurman Ave, Suite 102 in Crossville, Tennessee and can be contacted at or 931-456-6259.  Please consider volunteering and becoming a member of the CTC.  With your help, the project will be completed, creating a lasting legacy.

              Cumberland Trail Conference Staff, Executive and Advisory Boards
Excerpts From Winter 2008 CTC Newsletter

It began in March 1965 with the Clinch and Powell River Valley Association.  The members of this group proposed a trail from Cumberland Gap following the ridge of the Cumberland Mountain south to Cove Lake State Park.  From this park, the trail was to continue south along Walden Ridge to Oliver Springs.  A connector trail to Oak Ridge was also planned.  This route was to be named the Cumberland Trail (CT).  After some initial support, the association’s enthusiasm faded and by July 1965 the concept evaporated as dew in the summer heat.

In 1968 the Tennessee Trails Association (TTA) was organized by a small group of people interested in creating a state wide system of hiking trails.  This group envisioned a Cumberland Trail stretching from Cumberland Gap southwest to the Tennessee River Gorge.  The CT was to serve as a pilot project to prove the feasibility of a state wide system of scenic trails.  In 1971, the TTA assisted with the passage of Tennessee’s Trails System Act.  This legislation designated the Cumberland Trail and six other proposed trails as state scenic trails. State funds for the Trail Systems Act were very limited; however a small, state trail system staff was funded.  This staff working with the TTA began obtaining agreements with land owners for the various trail corridors.  This coordination allowed construction of the CT to begin.  In 1976, the TTA became a non-profit organization to provide a legal entity for agreements with land owners and to maintain continuity of Tennessee’s scenic trails program.  From 1972-1979, the TTA and the State of Tennessee continued their cooperative efforts and several miles of the Cumberland Trail were constructed, primarily with volunteer labor.

Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander was inaugurated in 1979, and he supported the proposed scenic trail system.  Additional funding was allocated and state trail building crews were formed along with a state trails system administrator.  By 1986, about 100 miles of the CT from Cumberland Gap to Lone Mountain State Forest were built along with 32 miles on Signal Mountain, and 14 miles in the Grassy Cove segment.  It was managed as the state’s only linear park and was designated the Cumberland State Scenic Trail.  The majority of the trail passed through private property with land owner agreements allowing for the trail. Unfortunately, in 1988 during Governor McWherter’s administration, budget problems arose.  All new trail construction was halted and the state trails system administrator position was abolished.  Later, additional budget cuts eliminated operating funds for the Cumberland State Scenic Trail.  The state ceased maintenance on the CT sections it had built and land owner agreements were allowed to expire.  The noble goals of the Trail Systems Act were not achieved, and many miles of the trail dissolved into the wilderness.  Nevertheless, TTA and Tennessee River Gorge Trust members along with State Forestry division personnel performed minimal trail maintenance and managed to keep the Grassy Cove and Tennessee River Gorge segments open.

In an effort to restore and generate new interest in the Cumberland Trail, the TTA hosted the first BreakAway program.  In March of 1996, eight students from East Tennessee State University spent a week restoring the Eagle Bluff section in the CT’s Cumberland Mountain segment.  This initial event revived volunteer support of the Cumberland Trail project.  Through the 1990s most new public funds for trails were in the form of grants to be matched by the grantees, creating public/private partnerships.  With the renewed interest in the trail project, the TTA sought funding to continue the volunteer effort.  To help establish a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (tdEC) and other funding partners, the TTA created the Cumberland Trail Conference (CTC) in 1997.  This organization’s mission is the completion of the Cumberland Trail utilizing volunteer labor.  With BreakAway as the backbone of the volunteer effort, the CTC obtained a formal funding agreement with tdEC for the development of the Cumberland Trail.  In June 1998, the project gained additional support when Governor Sundquist announced the creation of the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park which was “to be the backbone of Tennessee’s expanding system of greenways and trails.”

Since 1996, the Cumberland Trail project has progressed forward.  Strengthened by the tdEC partnership, CTC trail building programs and other initiatives have been the catalyst for the development of the trail.  Today’s Cumberland Trail is a collection of separated trail segments lined up along the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau, with project supporters diligently working to connect the dots.  Once completed, the trail will stretch 290-miles from Signal Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee, north to Cumberland Gap, creating one of the last unbroken greenways in Tennessee.  Additional plans are to include the Cumberland Trail as part of the Great Eastern Trail.  As of winter 2008, 170 miles of the trail are maintained for hiking and other outdoor pursuits.  With the trail as the central feature, the Cumberland Trail State Park is Tennessee’s 53rd state park.  The park has a manager, rangers, and other staff positions along with office facilities.

Historical information from Hiking Tennessee Trails by Evan Means

Founders of the Cumberland Trail Conference

 2013 Cumberland Trail Conference Staff, Executive, Advisory Boards & CT Founders

Download Lists with full contact information


Anthony Hook
General Manager

409 Thurman Ave, Suite 102
Crossville, TN 38555
931-456-6259 office

Marleya Pendleton
Office Manager

409 Thurman Ave, Suite 102
Crossville, TN 38555
931-456-6259 office


Bob Fulcher
CTSP Manager
Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail

Jim Brannon
Cove Lake Office
Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail


Bob Brown


Evan Means


Donald Todd


Mack Prichard
State Naturalist
Tenn. Dept. of Environment and Conservation


Ray Garrett
CTC Board Chairman

Judy Varner
CTC Board Vice-Chairman

CT Trail Steward

Carolyn Miller
CTC Board Secretary

Levonn Hubbard

Warren Devine

CT Trail Steward

David Reister

David Brill

Russ Manning

Gary Darnell

Martin McCullough

Millette Jones

Gary Grametbauer

CT Trail Steward

Diane Manas
CTC representative to TTA

Caroline Woerner

Anne Wesley

Susan Donnelly

Frank Jamison

Will Skelton

Mark McKnight

Hiram Rogers
Smoky Mountains Hiking Club

John Redmon


Shad Baker
Pine Mountain Trail Conference

Rex Boner
Executive Director
The Conservation Fund

Alison Bullock
Community Planner
Chattanooga Field Office
NPS Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance

Marty Dominy
Georgia Pinhoti Trail Association
Alabama Trails Association

Linda Hixon
Environmental Rep.;, Tech. Advisory Comm.
Southeast Tenn. Rural Planning Org. 

Jim Lane
Chief Ranger
Prentice Cooper State Forest 

John Mayer
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Dan Robbins
Oak Ridge Greenways

Kathleen Williams
President & Director

Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation

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