FHSP has the largest trail network of any area crossed by the Cumberland Trail and offers a number of exceptional loop hikes. Before venturing too far off the CT, hikers should print a map of the current trail system from the park’s website or buy a more detailed copy of the older park map from the Visitor Center.
Ross Gap-CT-Bird Mountain Loop
This loop combines the two designated access trails to the CT on the southwest end of the park. Start by following the short connector trail from the Rocky Fork Trailhead and then the Ross Gap Trail for 2.4 miles to Ross Gap and then the CT for 1.9 miles to the junction with the Bird Mountain Trail. Instead of continuing along the CT on the crest, turn right down the Bird Mountain Trail to reach the Tower Trail at 6.2 miles and a trailhead in the Big Cove Campground at 6.4 miles. Walk back down Flat Fork Road (or use the Flat Fork Walking Trail) to the Visitor Center at 7.2 miles. If water is high, continue on the road to complete the loop to the Rocky Fork Trailhead in 7.8 miles, or ford the creek at low water and follow the trail to return to the trailhead at 7.6 miles.
Bird Mountain-Tower Trail Loop
This loop leaves the Big Cove Campground Trailhead (use the parking area at the picnic shelter when the campground is closed in winter). Climb for 0.2 mile on the Tower Trail, then turn left on the Bird Mountain Trail. Climb a long series of switchbacks to reach the CT at 2.1 miles. Turn right on the CT and pass Castle Rocks and the Bird Mountain Campsite before reaching another junction with the Tower Trail at 4.7 miles. Turn right and walk down the Tower Trail to return to the campground trailhead at 7.7 miles.
Bird Mountain-North Bird Mountain-Tower Trail Loop
A much longer loop extends the Bird Mountain-Tower Trail Loop onto the North Bird Mountain Trail. Follow the directions above to reach the junction of the CT and Tower Trail at 4.7 miles. Instead of descending on the Tower Trail continue on the CT until it reaches the eastern edge of the coal ponds at 6.6 miles. From that junction, follow the old roadbed/Coffin Spring Trail to reach the park boundary at Coffin Spring at 7.4 miles. The spring is a reliable water source, well protected by a rock enclosure. Continue on the Coffin Spring Trail, which now follows a road occasionally used by park staff. At 8.2 miles, turn right onto the Tower Trail, which follows the mountain ridge. At 9.1 miles, reach a junction with a side trail to Squire Knob Campsite, which generally has no water. At 9.7 miles, reach the junction with the CT (at the 6.9 mile mark). Continue down the Tower Trail to reach Big Cove Campground at 12.7 miles. —HR