Tennessee River Gorge Segment
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Length: 32 miles; Rating: easy, moderate, difficult
Follow U.S. 127 to the town of Signal Mountain and follow the directional signs to Signal Point National Park parking area. The trail starts about halfway between the parking area and the Tennessee River Gorge Overlook. The trail follows bluff tops and ridges and crosses Middle, Julia, and Suck creeks. The view from Edwards Point covers a long stretch of the "Grand Canyon of the Tennessee," with historic Williams Island below on the left and the city of Chattanooga in the background.
Two primitive campsites are located on the first 11 miles of the trail, and camping is permitted only at these sites. It is possible for backpackers to enjoy a one-way trip, stopping overnight at one of the campsites, if the backpackers arrange for someone to drop them off, or to meet them, at one of the parking areas. The National Park Service recently closed the Signal Point Parking area after 10pm, and vehicles will be impounded if left after 10pm. Fortunately, overnight parking at the trailhead in Prentice Cooper is permitted. It is difficult, if not impossible, to hike the 11 miles in one day because the trail crosses several rock fields.
Day hikes of interest are from Signal Point National Park to Middle Creek with a side trip to Rainbow Falls, a mighty rumbler in wet weather. This jaunt takes about three hours; six to eight hours are required to hike round trip from Signal Point to Edwards Point or from Signal Point one way via Edwards Point to Tenn. 27. Between Edwards Point and Tenn. 27, the trail follows the tops of the bluffs some 2.5 miles with beautiful views of the Suck Creek gorge, then drops down to a campsite on North Suck Creek. At this point the trail continues across a 225-ft. swinging bridge over North Suck Creek to Tenn. 27.
Starting on the Suck Creek Mountain side, look for the Prentice Cooper State Forest sign on Tenn. 27 and travel to the new parking lot near the fire tower. This section attracts many backpackers. It takes three to four hours to hike down to the roadside park on Suck Creek Road (Tenn. 27).
An interesting side hike is available on a leg of the Cumberland Trail across Tenn. 27, starting at the roadside park (the present end of section 9). This leg consists of approximately 30 miles of two loops in Prentice Cooper State Forest. Pot Point Loop Trail overlooks the Tennessee River canyon at many points, and Mullins Cove Loop includes spectacular views of Mullins Cove in the canyon.
Evan Means - Hiking Tennessee Trails
Map contributed by Trail Volunteers Don Deakins and Caroline Woerner
TENNESSEE RIVER GORGE SEGMENT TRAIL
|Location||GPS Waypoint in WGS 84 format|
|Trailhead Parking||N35 07.966 W85 25.165|
|Indian Rock House||N35 07.662 W85 25.127|
|Lawson Rock Overlook||N35 08.244 W85 23.426|
|Popular Spring Campsite||N35 08.264 W85 23.574|
|Signal Point Trailhead||N35 07.224 W85 21.996|
|Mushroom Rock||N35 09.656 W85 23.222|
|Snoopers Rock||N35 06.110 W85 25.450|
|Natural Bridge||N35 05.219 W85 24.784|
|Raccoon Mtn Overlook||N35 04.353 W85 24.838|
|Hemlock Branch Campsite||N35 06.087 W85 26.298|
|Mullens Cove Overlook||N35 06.106 W85 26.624|
|McNabb Gulf Campsite||N35 04.445 W85 26.218|
|Ransom Hollow Overlook||N35 05.120 W85 26.694|