The impressive Devils Racetrack rock formation is located to the east of I-75 as it heads up onto the Cumberland Plateau and Cumberland Mountain. Morgan Simmons, a Knoxville News Sentinel writer, called Devils Racetrack “a rock formation so eye-catching it challenges you to keep your eyes on the road.” The CT climbs to an overlook at the peak of the rock formation. Devils Racetrack was formed 250 million or so years ago during the Allegheny Orogeny when the North America and Africa plates collided. In the Cumberland Mountain area, layers of sedimentary rock, mainly sandstone and shale, were tilted by the compression from horizontal to vertical. At the southwest end of the mountain, Devils Racetrack was formed when the softer shale rock eroded away, leaving only the vertical quartzite sandstone that now remains. No one seems really sure about the source of the Devils Racetrack name, except that it would be a hell of a place to race.
Interstate I-75 was constructed below the Devils Racetrack in the mid-1980s and subsequently permission was given to locate the CT on the I-75 right-of-way. As a result, the trail follows the east side interstate embankment for much of the first 2.2 miles from Bruce Gap Road Trailhead. Because of a concern that Bruce Creek would erode the interstate embankment, the creek was moved about 40 feet toward the Devils Racetrack mountain, with the relocated stream being partially enclosed in a culvert, and in other places artificial waterfalls and pools were created to dissipate the stream’s flow. The waterfalls now provide scenic highlights for this Section. —WS