Cumberland Trail Conference, a Tennessee State Scenic Hiking Trail.


Cumberland Trail
New River Segment

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The New River Segment enables hikers to visit some of the wildest, most remote, and least-visited terrain in Tennessee.  Section 1--the Arch Mountain Section--begins at the northeast corner of Frozen Head State Park, proceeds northward along Smoky Mountain and crosses the shoulder of Arch Mountain, then descends the Straight Fork watershed to reach its northern terminus near the confluence of Cave Branch and Smoky Creek.  The Lawson Mountain Section (Section 2) ascends the Cave Branch watershed and climbs a ridge to its headwaters, descends into the valley of Bowling Branch, ascends Lawson Mountain with its outstanding views, and finally descends the Lick Creek watershed to the New River.  Section 3--the Anderson and Cross Mountains Section--ascends from the river to two beautiful meadows atop Anderson Mountain, descends to Green’s Branch and the Montgomery Fork, then climbs to the crest of Cross Mountain before descending to the Bruce Gap Trailhead at Cove Lake State Park and the end of the segment.

Section Number

Section Name

Southern Terminus

Northern Terminus

Distance (miles)

1

Arch Mountain

NE corner, Frozen Head State Park

Smoky Creek Road

 

13.0

2

Lawson Mountain

Smoky Creek Road

Norma Road

9.8

3

Anderson & Cross Mountains

Norma Road

Cove Lake State Park

17.2

Total

 

 

 

40.0


The Cumberland Trail is marked throughout with white 2x6-inch painted or plastic blazes, some signposts with directional arrows, and other signage.  Unfortunately trail signage sometimes disappears and hikers should look for the blazes and carry appropriate maps and a compass or GPS.

The New River Segment passes through the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area, TWRA Region 4.  All users should be aware that hazards associated with mining (deep and strip) and hunting exist on this area. Public use is permitted during all hunts.  However, during deer and elk gun and muzzleloader seasons, special regulations apply.  During daylight hours all users outside of an enclosed vehicle or outside of camp must wear, on the upper portion of their body and head, a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange, visible from front and back.  For season dates, check with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) at
(800) 332-0900 or www.tnwildlife.org

Section 1:
ARCH MOUNTAIN
13.0 Miles


Overview
From its southern terminus at its junction with the Coffin Springs Trail near the northeast corner of Frozen Head State Park, the Cumberland Trail trail ascends to the Garden Spot and into the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area (WMA).  The trail turns north and, at Indian Fork Gap, begins a traverse of the crest of Smoky Mountain utilizing a seldom-travelled, improved gravel road that provides views of the surrounding mountains and the wind turbines on Buffalo Mountain in Anderson County.  Just north Grassy Gap the trail turns off the ridge towards Arch Mountain and descends northward nearly 1,500 feet into the narrow valley of Straight Fork. Before the confluence of Straight Fork and Smoky Creek, the trail turns west and reaches Smoky Creek near its confluence with Cave Branch. The Cave Branch Trailhead--the northern terminus of the Arch Mountain Section and the southern terminus of the Lawson Mountain Section--is on the west side of the creek and Smoky Creek Road.  Highlights of this section include a vast hardwood forest, a fine display of spring wildflowers, far-reaching views from Smoky and Arch Mountains, and opportunity to enjoy what is perhaps the most isolated place in Tennessee.


Road Approaches and Parking

The trailhead for the southern terminus of this section is near the northeast corner of Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area near Wartburg.  Although there is no road access to the trailhead, several park trails that ascend Bird Mountain can be used to reach it.  The two most direct routes begin near Big Cove Campground and reach the Cumberland Trail 1.5 miles west of the trailhead.  The shortest of these routes uses the Lookout Tower Trail--an old jeep road--and reaches the trailhead in 4.5 miles.  A more pleasant route to the trailhead--6.1 miles in length--uses the Bird Mountain Trail.  Please visit the Park’s website at www.tn.gov/environment/parks/FrozenHead or call the park at 423-346-3318 for information.  For information about the Cumberland Trail in FHSP, visit the CTC’s website at www.cumberlandtrail.org or call 931-456-6259.

The section’s northern terminus is on Smoky Creek Road in Scott County.  To reach this location from I-75, take Exit 141, TN-63, and go west towards Huntsville.  Cross into Scott County and travel a total of 11.2 miles to Norma Road.  Norma Road begins on the left, directly across from the closed Victory Lane Market & Deli (a former Shell service station).  A landmark on the left (south) side of TN-63 is a large sign for Rector's Tire Shop. Follow Norma Road 10.0 miles south, past the village of Norma, to Smoky Junction--the confluence of Smoky Creek and the New River.  The most important landmark in Smoky Junction is Hembree’s Grocery, on the right.  At Hembree’s, turn right onto paved Smoky Creek Road (no sign) and cross the bridge over the New River. Proceed a total of 4.6 miles, passing the valleys of Bowling Branch and Lowe Branch on the right, to the Cumberland Trail crossing at Cave Branch.  The trailhead is on the right, with parking for several vehicles. (The settlement of Hembree and a bridge over Smoky Creek is another 1.3 miles; if you reach either, you’ve gone too far.)

To reach the Cave Branch trailhead from Oak Ridge, follow TN-62 to its intersection with TN-116.  Turn right and proceed northeast past Brushy Mountain State Prison, Moore's Camp, and Rosedale to an intersection near Stainville--a total of 16.0 miles.  Here, at a "T" intersection with no road signs, TN-116 changes direction dramatically and heads southeast toward Laurel Grove and Walden Ridge.  Do not follow it!  Instead, turn left onto gravel New River Road and proceed north along the New River.  At 2.9 miles, New River Road comes to a "T" intersection; go left.  Proceed a total of 8.8 miles on New River Road to Smoky Junction--the confluence of Smoky Creek and New River.  The most important landmark in Smoky Junction is Hembree's Grocery, on the left.  At Hembree’s, turn left onto paved Smoky Creek Road (no sign) and cross the bridge over the New River.  Proceed a total of 4.6 miles, passing the valleys of Bowling Branch and Lowe Branch on the right, to the Cumberland Trail crossing at Cave Branch.  The trailhead is on the right, with parking for several vehicles.  (The settlement of Hembree and a bridge over Smoky Creek is another 1.3 miles; if you reach either, you’ve gone too far.)

Campsites; Water Availability
There are no designated backcountry campsites on this section.  However, dispersed Leave-No-Trace camping is permitted throughout the North Cumberland WMA.  Many possible camp sites lie along Straight Fork and Smoky Creeks, which contain water all year. Possible sites also exist on the mountain ridges, but water is not available there.  Do not camp on ATV roads.  Please treat all drinking water.  Do not obtain water from ponds near old mining operations or from streams possibly contaminated with acid drainage from coal mining.  Such streams are orange in color and smell like rotten eggs.

Miles S to N (Miles N to S) Trail Feature

Mile 0.0 (13.0) Junction of CT and Coffin Springs Trail (Frozen Head State Park)
This is the northern terminus of the Bird Mountain Segment and the southern terminus of the Arch Mountain Section of the New River Segment, elevation 2,750 ft.  From the trail junction, head eastward and ascend several switchbacks to the FHSP/TWRA boundary.

Mile 0.6 (12.4) FHSP/TWRA Boundary
Leave Frozen Head State Park and enter the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area’s New River Unit, elevation 3,050 ft.  (TWRA regulations apply between this location and the Bruce Gap Trailhead at Cove Lake State Park--the northern terminus of Section 3 of the New River Segment.)  In 150 feet, reach a grove of pines on an old strip mine bench.  On USGS maps, this area is labeled as The Garden Spot. Shortly, turn left, enter a gas pipeline right-of-way, and descend steeply.  At the bottom, proceed 225 feet, then turn right onto a road heading to Indian Fork Gap.
 
Mile 0.8 (12.2) Indian Fork Gap
Proceed through the gap and pass under a power line.  Walk 200 feet up the road (the boundary between Anderson and Morgan Counties) toward Guinea Hill Knob.  At a cairn, turn right off the road onto trail and enter Anderson County, elevation 2,900 feet.  Proceed 0.9 mile to an ATV road.

Mile 1.7 (11.3) ATV Road
Turn right onto the road and proceed 1/10-mile.  The trail leaves the road to the right at Bunch Gap and continues for 0.8 mile until encountering another ATV road.
Mile 2.6 (10.4) ATV Road

Turn right onto the ATV road and descend until reaching an improved and maintained gravel road with a CT signpost.

Mile 2.8 (10.2) Improved Gravel Road and Signpost
The Cumberland Trail parallels and crosses this gravel road several times over the next 1.3 miles.  Furthermore, it weaves back and forth across the Anderson and Scott County line over the next. 4.8 miles.  From the signpost, proceed straight on the gravel road and within 300 feet reach an intersection with another CT signpost.  The trail continues on north side of intersection for 0.2 miles until reaching the same road with another signpost.

Mile 3.0 (10.0) Improved Gravel Road and Signpost
Turn left onto the road, and in 60 feet turn left off the road.  Ascend a flight of steps and cross a ridge at 3,000 feet elevation with nice views.  Encounter the improved gravel road once again.

Mile 3.4 (9.6) Improved Gravel Road
Cross the road and climb to the ridge on the east side of the road, elevation 3,062 feet.  Descend slightly and once again reach the improved gravel road and a CT signpost.

Mile 4.1 (8.9) Improved Gravel Road and Signpost
From this point, the trail follows the road 3.3 miles along the spine of Smoky Mountain.  It remains in the 2,900 to 3,100-foot elevation range with outstanding views of the surrounding mountains.  Turn right onto the improved gravel road and follow the blazes uphill to a road intersection at elevation 3,907 feet.

Mile 4.4 (8.6) Intersection, Improved and Unimproved Gravel Roads; Signpost
At the signpost, turn right onto the unimproved gravel road, ascend the hill, and turn immediately left (north) at another signpost.  Proceed on an unmaintained road with a strip mine high wall on the road’s east side.  Continue north on this road for the next 3 miles, watching for possible ATV traffic.  (This road traverses old strip mine areas and some mountain slopes have been altered.  Nevertheless, it offers many great views and several awesome places to camp.  Unfortunately, potable water is not available.  Never drink from ponds or streams near mining areas as these waters could be highly acetic due to mine drainage.)  Finally, arrive at a power line.

Mile 6.1 (6.9) Power Line
Cross under the power line, noting the surrounding mountains and valleys.  Continue north on the road and eventually ascend to a heavily-used ATV area northwest of Grassy Gap.

Mile 7.3 (5.7) Northwest Grassy Gap
The road here is usually very muddy.  CTC has constructed a bypass on the right side of the road to provide hikers a drier, safer route. This trail is narrow and weaves through small trees in order to deter motorized use.  Soon, the trail turns left, away from the ATV roads and Smoky Mountain, toward an unnamed gap and Arch Mountain.

Mile 7.4 (5.6) Arch Mountain

Begin a descent on switchbacks with a large pond on the right.  After passing the pond and reaching the gap, the trail steady drops down the southeastern slope of Arch Mountain into the Straight Fork watershed.  Closer to the creek there are possible campsites and water. (Although the water in Straight Fork and its tributaries is not contaminated by mine drainage, it still--of course--must be treated.) Finally, arrive at Straight Fork.
 
Mile 9.0 (4.0) Straight Fork Cross
Straight Fork, turn left, and ascend to a logging road.

Mile 9.1 (3.9) Logging Road
Cross the logging road and veer left along the base of Smoky Mountain, staying on the east side of Straight Fork.  Proceed to a second crossing of Straight Fork, on a bridge.

Mile 10.0 (3.0) Straight Fork Bridge
Cross Straight Fork on the backcountry bridge.  Soon cross a gravel road and turn uphill, staying on the west side of Straight Fork along the base of Arch Mountain’s eastern slope.  Reach an orange-colored stream and a small bridge.

Mile 10.1 (2.9) Polluted Stream and Bridge
This stream flows from abandoned coal mines and contains sulfides leached from the rocks disturbed by the mining.  Cross it and proceed 0.3 mile toward Straight Fork and an old railroad bed.

Mile 10.4 (2.6) Railroad Bed
Veer left onto an old railroad bed and enter a strip mine reclamation area.

Mile 10.5 (2.5) South End Strip Mine Reclamation Area
Meander 1.4 mile along the base of Arch Mountain through a mine reclamation area.

Mile 11.9 (1.1) North End StripMine Reclamation Area

Traverse downhill, leaving the mine reclamation area.  Cross an old logging road and continue downhill.  The trail levels and heads west onto an old railroad bed beside Smoky Creek.  (There are possible campsites here, with water.  Again, please treat all water.)  Turn right onto a road and reach Smoky Creek.

Mile 12.9 (0.1) Smoky Creek Ford Smoky Creek
Cross Smoky Creek Road and reach the Cave Branch Trailhead on the far side.

Mile 13.0 (0.0) Cave Branch Trailhead

This is the northern terminus of the Arch Mountain Section and the southern terminus of the Lawson Mountain Section, elevation 1,308 feet.


Section 2:
LAWSON MOUNTAIN
9.8 Miles


Overview
From its southern terminus at the Cave Branch Trailhead just off Smoky Creek Road, the trail heads up remote Cave Branch and climbs1,300 feet to a rocky ridge that divides two watersheds.  After a fairly level traverse of the ridge, the trail descends 800 feet to Bowling Branch.  A pleasant stroll precedes the second major climb of the Section--an ascent of 800 feet to the summit ridge of Lawson Mountain.  A second ridge walk is followed by a descent of 1,300 feet in the Lick Creek watershed to the New River and the Norma Road Trailhead.  Highlights of this section include a vast hardwood forest affording great fall colors; stands of large, healthy hemlocks; countless tumbling creeks (in season); far-reaching views from Lawson Mountain; walking in the presence of wild elk; and a real sense of isolation.

Road Approaches and Parking
The trailhead for the southern terminus of this section is on Smoky Creek Road in Scott County.  To reach this location from I-75, take Exit 141, TN-63, and go west towards Huntsville.  Cross into Scott County and travel a total of 11.2 miles to Norma Road.  Norma Road begins on the left, directly across from the closed Victory Lane Market & Deli (a former Shell service station).  A landmark on the left (south) side of TN-63 is a large sign for Rector's Tire Shop.  Follow Norma Road 10.0 miles south, past the village of Norma, to Smoky Junction--the confluence of Smoky Creek and the New River.  The most important landmark in Smoky Junction is Hembree’s Grocery, on the right.  At Hembree’s, turn right onto paved Smoky Creek Road (no sign) and cross the bridge over the New River.  Proceed a total of 4.6 miles, passing the valleys of Bowling Branch and Lowe Branch on the right, to the Cumberland Trail crossing at Cave Branch.  The trailhead is on the right, with parking for several vehicles.  (The settlement of Hembree and a bridge over Smoky Creek is another 1.3 miles; if you reach either, you’ve gone too far.)

To reach the Cave Branch trailhead from Oak Ridge, follow TN-62 to its intersection with TN-116.  Turn right and proceed northeast past Brushy Mountain State Prison, Moore's Camp, and Rosedale to an intersection near Stainville--a total of 16.0 miles.  Here, at a "T" intersection with no road signs, TN-116 changes direction dramatically and heads southeast toward Laurel Grove and Walden Ridge.  Do not follow it!  Instead, turn left onto gravel New River Road and proceed north along the New River.  At 2.9 miles, New River Road comes to a "T" intersection; go left.  Proceed a total of 8.8 miles on New River Road to Smoky Junction--the confluence of Smoky Creek and New River.  The most important landmark in Smoky Junction is Hembree's Grocery, on the left.  At Hembree’s, turn left onto paved Smoky Creek Road (no sign) and cross the bridge over the New River. Proceed a total of 4.6 miles, passing the valleys of Bowling Branch and Lowe Branch on the right, to the Cumberland Trail crossing at Cave Branch.  The trailhead is on the right, with parking for several vehicles.  (The settlement of Hembree and a bridge over Smoky Creek is another 1.3 miles; if you reach either, you’ve gone too far.)

The trailhead for the northern terminus of this section is on Norma Road in Scott County.  To reach this location from I-75, take Exit 141, TN-63, and go west towards Huntsville.  Cross into Scott County and travel a total of 11.2 miles to Norma Road.  Norma Road begins on the left, directly across from the closed Victory Lane Market & Deli (a former Shell service station).  A landmark on the left (south) side of TN-63 is a large sign for Rector's Tire Shop.  Follow Norma Road 7.8 miles south past the village of Norma to the Cumberland Trail crossing.  Note the wooden steps and “Cumberland Trail” signs on both sides of the road.  A parking lot lies on the west side of the road near the trail crossing.

To reach the Norma Road trailhead from Oak Ridge, follow TN-62 to its intersection with TN-116.  Turn right and proceed northeast past Brushy Mountain State Prison, Moore's Camp, and Rosedale to an intersection near Stainville--a total of 16.0 miles.  Here, at a "T" intersection with no road signs, TN-116 changes direction dramatically and heads southeast toward Laurel Grove and Walden Ridge.  Do not follow it!  Instead, turn left onto gravel New River Road and proceed north along the New River.  At 2.9 miles New River Road comes to a "T" intersection; go left.  Proceed a total of 8.8 miles on New River Road to Smoky Junction--the confluence of Smoky Creek and New River.  The most important landmark in Smoky Junction is Hembree's Grocery, on the left. New River Road now becomes Norma Road and is somewhat improved.  Continue north on Norma Road 2.2 miles from Hembree's to the Cumberland Trail crossing.  Note the wooden steps and "Cumberland Trail" signs on both sides of the road.  A parking lot lies on the west side of the road near the trail crossing.

Total distance of the shuttle between the Norma Road and Cave Branch trailheads is about 7 miles.  A Norma-area home owner may be able to provide shuttle service for a fee.  The owner's residence is a brown wooden two-story house with two ponds, located on the west side of Norma Road just north of the parking lot.  To contact the home owner about a shuttle, please call Miss Linda Ward at 423-663-9191.

Campsites; Water Availability
There are no designated backcountry campsites on this section.  However, backpackers who know and practice Leave No Trace principles may consider camping at the flat area just south of Bowling Town Road, Mile 4.4 (5.4).  In addition, dispersed Leave-No-Trace camping is permitted throughout the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.  Please treat all drinking water, and be aware that creeks on this section may be dry between June and October!


Miles S to N (Miles N to S) Trail Feature

Mile 0.0 (9.8) Cave Branch Trailhead
This is the northern terminus of the Arch Mountain Mountain Section and the southern terminus of the Lawson Mountain Section, elevation 1,308 feet.  From the clearing, ascend a 6-rock staircase and cross an ATV road running down the fall line.  Head upstream, well above the creek.  Proceed on fairly level sidehill trail through an attractive mixed forest containing some very large, healthy hemlocks.  Descend gradually to the creek and cross it.

Mile 0.4 (9.4) Cave Branch Crossing
Turn left onto the gravel and dirt road.  After 200 feet leave the road on the right.  Continue above and roughly parallel to Cave Branch, ascending and descending numerous times over the next half mile.  Finally, descend a set of steps and meet the road again.

Mile 1.0 (8.8) Lower Junction, Trail and Cave Branch Road
Turn right and walk a little over 1/10 mile up the road to another junction with the trail on the right.

Mile 1.1 (8.7) Upper Junction, Trail and Cave Branch Road
Ascend moderately and follow a sinuous path through huge boulders.  Continue up a ravine to its head with a small waterfall, then proceed over fairly level but rocky terrain covered with ferns.  Cross a seasonal creek with large stepping stones.  Soon an old logging road crosses the trail and descends to join another along Cave Branch which is rough, muddy, and often flooded in places.

Mile 1.5 (8.3) Old Logging Road
The trail continues above and roughly parallel to Cave Branch through a nice stand of hemlocks.  A 10-step rock staircase marks the beginning of a long ascent.  Shortly, cross an old log skidding route that heads straight down the fall line.  Continue ascending, steeply in places.  Reach an overlook of a deep ravine with a seasonal waterfall.

Mile 2.0 (7.8) Deep Ravine with Waterfall
Above the ravine the climb out of the valley of Cave Branch is moderate, providing opportunity to enjoy the forest dominated by large maple, poplar, and beech.  Soon the grade steepens, however, and the trail is characterized by numerous switchbacks and curving turns. Finally, arrive at the southeast end of the ridge dividing Cave Branch and Bowling Branch, elevation 2,626 ft.

Mile 2.6 (7.2) Southeast End of Ridge
Turn left and proceed westward along the ridge for 1/2 mile with little change in elevation.  Reach a huge boulder with a slightly smaller one balanced on top.

Mile 3.1 (6.7) Stacked Boulders
Note the rocky spine of the ridge as the trail approaches its northwest end, elevation 2,567 ft.  In autumn the colors of the hardwood forest from this vantage point are outstanding.

Mile 3.2 (6.6) Northwest End of Ridge
Pass directly beneath the rock outcrop and cross two creeks.  Begin a moderate-to-steep descent toward Bowling Branch, passing several large, isolated boulders that evidently tumbled from the spine of the ridge above.  Curve to the left around one whose flat top supports a thriving plant community.

Mile 3.7 (6.1) Verdant Boulder
Descend, steeply in places, on sidehill trail via curving turns and switchbacks. Cross three small creeks on large stepping stones. The forest here is dominated by maple, and in many places the slope is covered with ferns. Turn right at a break in the grade and approach a creek on the left.

Mile 4.0 (5.8) Creek and Break in Grade
Proceed on sidehill through a more mixed forest of maple, poplar, and beech.  Head northeastward and approach a the major tributary of Bowling Branch on the right.  Continue over nearly level trail through a pleasant forest of hemlock with abundant mountain laurel.  Cross a small stream and reach a junction with dirt/gravel Bowling Town Road.

Mile 4.4 (5.4) West Junction, Trail and Bowling Town Road
Turn right onto the road and begin a gradual descent eastward.  Pass a faint old road on the right and a beaver pond on the left.  After 0.3 miles, reach a junction with trail, elevation 1,755 ft.

Mile 4.7 (5.1) East Junction, Trail and Bowling Town Road
Turn left off the road onto trail.  Pass a beaver pond on the right, tunnel through a laurel thicket, and begin a moderate ascent.  After crossing an old logging road, begin a steeper ascent via switchbacks toward the crest of Lawson Mountain.  In about 3/4 mile the trail emerges into a pleasant field, probably used by wildlife.  Continue 0.1 mile on trail built upon strip mine tailings.  Finally, reach a signpost at the junction with a dirt/gravel road, elevation 2,583 ft.

Mile 5.6 (4.2) West Junction, Trail and Summit Ridge Road
Turn right onto the road and follow the blazed posts.  (This road extends over 2 miles along the top of what remains of Lawson Mountain. The mountaintop was removed to extract coal, but is now recovering.)  Proceed 1 mile to a junction with trail, elevation 2,404 ft. (An overlook lies about 3/4 mile to the left, on the side of Lick Creek Mountain.  This overlook offers an expansive view eastward over the New River valley and mountains beyond.)

Mile 6.6 (3.2) East Junction, Trail and Summit Ridge Road
Descend from the summit ridge via a series of tight switchbacks.  Continue on sidehill trail through a pleasant hardwood forest.  Descend a moderate grade through two sharp right turns . Cross an old logging road near Lick Creek.  Below, a staging area for logging is visible.

Mile 7.4 (2.4) Old Logging Road
Continue to descend moderately.  Merge with a gravel road to the right, walk 200 feet, and join a dirt road.  The dirt road becomes trail and shortly reaches a gravel road.

Mile 7.8 (2.0) Gravel Road
Turn left on the road and walk 150 feet.  Turn right onto trail and descend very gradually through a pleasant forest, not far from the left bank of Lick Creek.  Veer right along an old logging road and soon reach Upper Lick Creek Bridge.

Mile 8.3 (1.5) Upper Lick Creek Bridge
Note the small waterfall while crossing the bridge.  Descend gradually along the right bank of Lick Creek to Lower Lick Creek Bridge.

Mile 8.8 (1.0) Lower Lick Creek Bridge
Cross the bridge and continue downstream.  Cross an old dirt road, ascend a set of terraced steps, then cross two gravel roads.  Reach a log bridge over a small ravine.

Mile 9.2 (0.6) Log Bridge Over Small Ravine
Cross the ravine and in 1/3 mile cross a small creek on a log bridge.  Proceed downstream above and roughly parallel to a gravel road, losing elevation via three switchbacks.  Reach the road and turn left.  Follow the road to the concrete bridge over the New River, elevation 1,240 ft.

Mile 9.6 (0.2) Concrete Bridge Over New River
Cross the river and continue a short distance on the gravel road.  Turn right onto trail and soon cross railroad tracks.  Proceed gently uphill heading east, and arrive at the Norma Road trailhead.

Mile 9.8 (0.0) Norma Road Trailhead
This is the northern terminus of the Lawson Mountain Section and the southern terminus of the Anderson and Cross Mountains Section.


Section 3:
ANDERSON AND CROSS MOUNTAINS
17.2 Miles


Overview
From the section’s southern terminus on Norma Road, the trail climbs 1,250 feet out of the valley of the New River to two beautiful meadows on Anderson Mountain.  It descends through hardwood forest on McCoy Ridge to Green’s Branch, then passes through an area of outstanding spring wildflowers to Montgomery Fork and a backcountry campsite.  From here hikers face a 3-mile 1,360-foot ascent to the top of Cross Mountain; rewards include views in all directions and a fine display of wildflowers and flowering trees between April and June.  The trail then descends 1,900 feet in 4 miles to the northern terminus of the section at Cove Lake State Park.  Gravel and dirt roads provide access to two points along the trail, making shorter hikes possible.  Additional highlights of this section include the possibility of observing wild elk and camping under increasingly rare dark night sky.

Road Approaches and Parking
The trailhead for the southern terminus of this section is on Norma Road in Scott County.  To reach this location from I-75, take Exit 141, TN-63, and go west towards Huntsville. Cross into Scott County and travel a total of 11.2 miles to Norma Road. Norma Road begins on the left, directly across from the closed Victory Lane Market & Deli (a former Shell service station).  A landmark on the left (south) side of TN-63 is a large sign for Rector's Tire Shop.  Follow Norma Road 7.8 miles south past the village of Norma to the Cumberland Trail crossing.  Note the wooden steps and “Cumberland Trail” signs on both sides of the road.  A parking lot lies on the west side of the road near the trail crossing.

To reach the Norma Road trailhead from Oak Ridge, follow TN-62 to its intersection with TN-116.  Turn right and proceed northeast past Brushy Mountain State Prison, Moore's Camp, and Rosedale to an intersection near Stainville--a total of 16.0 miles.  Here, at a "T" intersection with no road signs, TN-116 changes direction dramatically and heads southeast toward Laurel Grove and Walden Ridge.  Do not follow it!  Instead, turn left onto gravel New River Road and proceed north along the New River.  At 2.9 miles New River Road comes to a "T" intersection; go left.  Proceed a total of 8.8 miles on New River Road to Smoky Junction--the confluence of Smoky Creek and New River.  The most important landmark in Smoky Junction is Hembree's Grocery, on the left.  New River Road now becomes Norma Road and is somewhat improved.  Continue north on Norma Road 2.2 miles from Hembree's to the Cumberland Trail crossing.  Note the wooden steps and "Cumberland Trail" signs on both sides of the road.  A parking lot lies on the west side of the road near the trail crossing.

The trailhead for the northern terminus of this section is a paved parking area located on the west side of Cove Lake State Park on Bruce Gap Road.  Take I-75 to Caryville (Exit 134).  On the west side of I-75, turn right onto Old Highway 63.  Pass the Shoney’s restaurant and the Caryville Library and Fire Department and proceed a total of 0.5 mile to the intersection with Bruce Gap Road (also known as Butter and Egg Road).  Turn right onto Bruce Gap Road, pass under I-75, and cross over the Cove Creek Bridge to the trailhead parking lot on the left.

Total distance of the shuttle between Bruce Gap and Norma Road trailheads is 26 miles; driving time is 30 to 40 minutes one-way.  A Norma-area home owner may be able to provide shuttle service for a fee.  The owner's residence is a brown wooden two-story house with two ponds, located on the west side of Norma Road just north of the parking lot.  To contact the home owner about a shuttle, please call Miss Linda Ward at 423-663-9191.

Campsites; Water Availability
This section has one designated backcountry campsite--at Montgomery Fork.  Backpackers who know and practice Leave No Trace principles may also consider camping at Green's Branch.  In addition, dispersed Leave-No-Trace camping is permitted throughout the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.  Water can be found all year in Montgomery Fork and Greens Branch, and in the New River.  Please treat all drinking water!

Miles N to S (Miles S to N) Trail Feature

Mile 0.0 (17.2) Norma Road Trailhead
This is the northern terminus of the Lawson Mountain Section and the southern terminus of the Anderson and Cross Mountains Section. Cross Norma Road and begin the ascent of Anderson Mountain, heading generally SE with occasional seasonal views of the valley of the New River on the right.  After about a mile the trail turns north and then east, following a strip mine bench to its end where it merges with an old roadbed.

Mile 1.8 (15.4) Old Roadbed
Follow the roadbed, then ascend via switchbacks and occasional rock staircases until the trail again merges with a strip mine bench.

Mile 2.7 (14.5) Strip Mine Bench
Proceed along the bench, noticing the mining “high wall” on the left and the views of the surrounding mountains.  Leave the bench to the left in a gap where there is a road crossing.

Mile 3.4 (13.8) Gap and Road Crossing
Turn right at the signpost.  Follow the gravel ATV road for about 0.5 mi.  Turn left off the road and switchback up toward a wooded ridge. Veer right and proceed along the ridge. Notice the young American chestnut trees, redbuds, and the wide-ranging views.  Turn right onto a roadbed and follow it uphill for about 300 ft. to the west end of Upper Anderson Meadow.

Mile 4.1 (13.1) West End Upper Anderson Meadow
This meadow is the result of removing the top of Anderson Mtn. to extract the coal.  The land has been reclaimed and planted with vegetation suitable for elk and other wildlife.  Wind turbines on Buffalo Mtn. to the south are among the many fine views to be seen while following the blazes on posts across the meadow.

Mile 4.6 (12.6) East End Upper Anderson Meadow
Leave the meadow and descend through the woods.  Emerge from the woods into Lower Anderson Meadow.

Mile 4.9 (12.3) West End Lower Anderson Meadow
Turn left following the post blazes along the gravel road.  Head in an easterly direction skirting the northern edge of the meadow.  This area has also been reclaimed after coal mining.  Notice the rock face or “high wall” straight ahead.  Upon approaching the wall, turn left and reach the edge of the meadow.

Mile 5.3 (11.9) East End Lower Anderson Meadow
Leave the meadow generally following a contour, then proceed down the slope of McCoy Ridge.  This is an attractive stretch through a hardwood forest containing trillium, iris, and violets with views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.  Watch for elk.  After a huge flat rock (a nice lunch spot) descend a rock staircase, then turn left onto an ATV road.

Mile 7.3 (9.9) ATV Road
Proceed about 0.2 mi to Green’s Branch.  A flat area for possible backcountry camping is located on a small hill to the left, above the trail.  Turn right and cross the creek.

Mile 7.5 (9.7) Green’s Branch
Ascend, then generally parallel Montgomery Fork, though well above it.  After nearly 2 miles, descend to Spring Branch.  In April, wildflowers--especially lady slippers--are abundant here.

Mile 9.4 (7.8) Spring Branch
Cross Spring Branch, climb a bit, then descend slightly to Montgomery Fork.

Mile 10.0 (7.2) Montgomery Fork
Cross the creek, ascend the main trail and shortly reach a spur trail to a backcountry campsite.  (To reach the site, follow the spur trail a short distance upstream to several level tent sites on a bench near the creek.)

Mile 10.1 (7.1) Spur Trail to Backcountry Campsite
Ascend gradually, veering away from Montgomery Fork with increasingly attractive views.  This dry hillside has an abundance of flame azalea, and mountain laurel, along with oak, hickory, and sugar maple.  After about 0.5 mi, turn sharply right at a large rock outcrop and ascend nearly 400 ft via 9 flights of rock and log steps.  Reach gravel Mine No. 10 Road.

Mile 11.3 (5.9) Gravel Mine No. 10 Road
Turn right onto the road.  After about 100 feet, turn left and ascend again.  Reach an overlook with views to the north, west, and south. Continue to ascend.  Finally, reach the crest of Big Bruce Ridge, elevation 2,920 feet.

Mile 12.3 (4.9) Crest of Big Bruce Ridge
Continue winding around the ridge and reach an overlook to the east.  This area is exceptionally rich in wildflowers, including geranium, mayapple, little brown jug, trillium, solomon’s seal, blue cohosh, violet, wood sorrel, trailing arbutus, bloodroot, rue anemone, and a host of others.  Ascend gently and finally reach the highest point on the Section (2,960 feet) which is 1,910 feet above the Bruce Gap Trailhead.  Leave the woods and descend a rock staircase to gravel Tower Road.  (There is a gravel parking area and kiosk just off Tower Road 0.17 mile from this location.)  Turn right onto the road and proceed a very short distance.

Mile 13.1 (4.1) Gravel Tower Road
Turn left off the road and descend steeply via rock steps and switchbacks to a deep gully.

Mile 13.3 (3.9) Deep Gully
Cross the gully, then traverse a coal mine tailings pile.  Proceed downhill through woods sprinkled with flame azalea in early June.  Reach a rock overlook with views of the Tennessee Valley to the north and east.

Mile 13.5 (3.7) Rock Overlook
Switch back and pass beneath the overlook rock.  Cross a stream on rocks (can be quite slippery) and follow level trail with view to the right of a scenic rock face containing shallow caves.  The trail turns sharply left.

Mile 13.8 (3.4) Sharp Turn
Turn left and descend steeply.  Reach a bench and proceed over fairly level trail to Duncan Branch.

Mile 14.4 (2.8) Duncan Branch
Cross Duncan Branch on slippery rocks.  Duncan Branch is formed at the confluence of two streams in deep, rocky gullies.  The northern gully contains a seasonal waterfall; note the huge rocks and nice pool in the southern gully.  Proceed over level trail to a short wooden bridge across a deep gully.

Mile 14.6 (2.6) Wooden Bridge
Cross the bridge and resume steep descent using rock and log staircases.  Pass under an overhead power line and descend to a sign “Cumberland Trail” and junction with the former Royal Blue cable railroad bed.

Mile 15.4 (1.8) Sign and West Junction, Railroad Bed and Trail
Proceed downhill in wide cleared area (former Royal Blue cable railroad bed).  Pass an ATV lane entering from left. Reach a junction with trail.

Mile 15.6 (1.6) East Junction, Railroad Bed and Trail
Turn sharply left off railroad bed onto trail.  Descend a log staircase into the woods and approach Adkins Branch.

Mile 15.7 (1.5) Adkins Branch
Turn right before the stream and descend about 200 feet along its right bank to a “T” intersection with a dirt road.  Turn left and proceed along road for about 150 feet.  As the road veers left, the trail continues straight into the woods, descends a rock staircase, and crosses the creek on stepping stones.  Turn right and head downstream along the left bank through a lush riparian area with ferns, hemlocks, and rhododendron.  Approach the rust-colored face of a huge boulder.

Mile 16.0 (1.2) Huge Boulder
Proceed under the boulder’s sharp overhang and descend steeply into a scenic gorge containing hemlock.  Turn left before reaching the stream and continue descending.  The trail levels and the sound of I-75 becomes evident.  Continue descending moderately and reach a kiosk displaying memorabilia from construction of this trail in 2001.

Mile 16.2 (1.0) Kiosk
Descend from the kiosk and approach a railroad bed with two tracks.  Turn right onto the bed, note the blazes on cross ties, and proceed about 200 feet to two blazes on a post to the left.

Mile 16.3 (0.9) Two Blazes on Post
Turn left off RR bed and into field, then descend rock steps to a trail sign and paved Old Highway 63.  Cross the road, turn left, and follow trail upstream about 150 feet next to Cove Creek to an 88-ft steel bridge.

Mile 16.4 (0.8) Cove Creek Bridge
Cross the creek, re-enter the woods, and proceed on mostly level trail, occasionally just above the creek, to an underpass of I-75.

Mile 17.0 (0.2) I-75 Underpass
From the underpass proceed on level trail to a trail junction.  Signs point out the New River Segment behind and the Cumberland Mountain Segment to the left.

Mile 17.1 (0.1) Trail Junction with Signs
Proceed to the Bruce Gap Trailhead kiosk.  The parking lot is 115 feet beyond the kiosk.

Mile 17.2 (0.0) Bruce Gap Trailhead
This is the northern terminus of the Anderson and Cross Mountains Section of the New River Segment and the southern terminus of the Cumberland Mountain Segment.

Map Contributed by Trail Volunteer Don Deakins
NORTH NEW RIVER SEGMENT TRAIL
Bruce Gap Trailhead to Cave Branch Trailhead



Map Contributed by Trail Volunteer Don Deakins
SOUTH NEW RIVER SEGMENT TRAIL
Cave Branch Trailhead to Bird Mountain Trailhead

GPS Readings For Important Points
Location GPS Waypoint
Top of Cross Mountain N36 18.224 W84 16.481
Mine #10 gravel road N36 18.437 W84 17.137
Montgomery Fork campsite N36 18.130 W84 17.500
Montgomery Fork bridge N36 18.147 W84 17.590
Spring Branch bridge N36 18.345 W84 17.970
Greens Branch bridge N36 19.114 W84 18.921
Greens Branch campsite N36 19.085 W84 18.945
Anderson Mountain lower field east side N36 18.498 W84 19.867
Anderson Mountain lower field west side N36 18.527 W84 20.219
Anderson Mountain upper field east side N36 18.679 W84 20.349
Anderson Mountain upper field west side N36 18.874 W84 20.220
Norma Road crossing N36 18.211 W84 23.147
New River bridge N36 18.141 W84 23.249

Email the Cumberland Trail Conference

Send email to
cumberlandtrail@rocketmail.com

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