Congratulations ! You probably Googled “Cumberland Trail” and got here. What you probably need are trail descriptions. There are more than 50 trail heads for the twelve Segments and 28 Sections of the 210 open miles on the Cumberland Trail. Use the menu at the right to find full descriptions of each Segment and Section. (Cell users Trail Description menu is at the bottom.)
When you get a chance check out our News Posts and Volunteer Opportunities as well.
Enjoy the Trail !
Please click NEWS link above for latest progress reports on construction.
The Cumberland Trail is an ambitious hiking trail project under development in East Tennessee. When completed, the Cumberland Trail (CT) will extend more than 300 miles from its northern terminus in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (TN/KY) to its southern terminus at the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park located on Signal Mountain just outside Chattanooga, Tennessee. As of November 2019 over 210 miles of the trail are open for hiking. And work continues. Another 17 miles are complete but not open. These sections are waiting for bridges, final parking arrangements, signage or official opening dates. Estimated completion date for all trail segments on currently owned state land is late 2021.
The scenic footpath follows a line of high ridges and deep gorges along or near the rugged, eastern edge of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau. The trail offers a unique wilderness experience and many scenic views, waterfalls, landscapes, gorges, wildlife, and widely varying flora. As a remote, back-country trail, it meanders through eleven Tennessee counties, on lands managed by Tennessee’s Departments of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and Tennessee Forestry.
The trail also connects two national parks and passes through a National Wild & Scenic River area. In 1998 the trail was defined as an ambitious State Park project, designated as the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park, Tennessee’s first linear state park. As it evolved, the park is much more than a hiking trail. It is now the second largest Tennessee state park. But the trail is more than the state park, extending beyond the park boundaries through segments that traverse other state and some federal properties through agreements with TDEC. The CT is an official component of the Tennessee Recreational Trails System and a legislatively designated State Scenic Trail. Additionally the Cumberland Trail is a part of the Great Eastern Trail, which is under development and will extend from Alabama to New York when completed.
The CTC is a member of the Southeastern Foot Trails Collation which is organized to make interconnections between eight long distance trails in the Southeast region.
The continued development and construction of the Cumberland Trail is accomplished through a working relationship between the Cumberland Trails Conference (CTC), the CT State Scenic Park and TDEC. The CTC, private corporations, foundations, individuals, and others assist TDEC in raising funds for land acquisition, providing maintenance, and further developing the Cumberland Trail.
The Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail operates a professional trail crew mostly in the north sections. The CTC also maintains a professional trail crew that works twelve months a year. Additional labor comes from thousands of hours of volunteer service provided through the CTC. The Cumberland Trails Conference (CTC) a non-profit 501-(c)(3) membership organization. The mission of the CTC is to provide paid and volunteer labor, equipment, supplies and vehicles to design and construct the trail under the auspices of TDEC.
Building the CT is a grassroots effort, driven by communities along the trail, government agencies, hiking clubs and a broad network of individuals. This successful private/public partnership is a model often cited to demonstrate the power of volunteerism and public/private partnerships.
Crucial to the construction of the trail is the participation of college students. The CTC is a host site for the national Alternative Spring Break program. Since 1996 college students have constructed over fifty miles of trail or nearly 25% of the open trail. Pretty impressive.
Trail miles are divided into 12 Segments and 28 Sections within the segments, addressable through this site. A full trail section index is to the right. Please explore this website.
Your support is greatly needed and there are many ways to help with this project. You can take a hike on the Cumberland Trail, volunteer time for trail construction and maintenance, become a member of the CTC, or make a monetary contribution to the project toward construction of new trail and bridges.
The map below shows open trail, trail under construction, and proposed trail. For detailed descriptions of each segment, click the links to the right (listed north to south) or click the map for a larger version.
The Cumberland Trail is part of the Great Eastern Trail: