Big News For Big Soddy Creek Bridge . . .  It’s Finished and Open !  

After almost four years of  planning, moving material and construction, the 94′ center span suspension bridge over the Big Soddy Creek is open for business!

Big Soddy Bridge Nov 2015

Big Soddy Bridge Opens November 2015 (photo Shauna Wilson)

Located at 35* 17’56.64″ N  85*11’50.15″ W in the Soddy Creek Gorge Section (north) of the CT, it represents a significant advance for hikers in one of the most remote areas of the 300 mile Cumberland Trail.  Big Soddy Creek is subject to large variations in water height.  The new bridge keeps the segment open no matter what the water level. Existing bridges had been washed away making the scramble across the boulder filled creek bottom, even at low water, both challenging and hazardous.

The Jewel of the Cumberland trail is a  testament to the joint efforts of several state agencies, the CTC and volunteers who worked hundreds of hours next to the paid crew to bring the bridge to life.  The full story can be found below.  Many thanks to all who worked on her.


100 Foot Suspension Bridge Nears Completion in August 2015

Photo Credit: Daniel Basham

Photo Credit: Daniel Basham



  Left:  August 2015.  Deck work continues on the Big Soddy Creek Bridge.




The three year project to cross the Big Soddy Creek with a 100 foot suspension bridge is nearing the end.  As of July 2015 the wood decking was being installed and the approach steps under construction.

concrete on zip line Big Soddy Gorge


Right:  Volunteers load two 80 pound bags of concrete into a basket for a zip line trip down to the creek 70 vertical feet below.  Over 8,000 pounds of concrete made the trip from the top of Big Soddy Gorge 445 feet to the build site.





looking up at rock tonge at Soddy Gorge

Ninety feet straight up to the derrick used to lower building materials.



Left:  Looking up 90 feet to a tongue of cap rock three quarters of the way to the top of the gorge. After riding a series of zip lines, materials were lowered by a derrick to a staging area.  Everything was then move by another series of zip lines to the construction site.



 Erecting South Tower Soddy Bridge October 2013

 Right: October 2013 – steel towers on the south shore begin to go up.  Steel components were fabricated off site, then lowered by zip lines and derrick over 400 feet from the rim of the gorge to the creek bed.

35*17’58.27N  85*11.53.61 W

Elevation 995′ AMSL


Below:  November 11, 2013 – the south tower is complete.  A volunteer heading out after a long day gives a sense of scale.

South Tower Soddy Gorge Bridge person for scale

lumber at top if zip lines for Big Soddy Gorge BridgeAbove:  Top of the rim.  Lumber, netting, scaffolding, steel parts, steel cables, tools – everything – started the long journey to the build site from this staging point over 445 feet higher than the creek bed.

Volunteers Load derrick for 90 foot ride into Big Soddy Gorge


derrick w/lumber loadAbove:  A load of lumber is ready for the 90 foot drop to the next staging area.

Elevation 1155′ AMSL






Volunteers work with paid crew to ease loads down to build siteAbove:  Volunteers and paid crew work together to control the derrick and load line.  Care was taken to create a series of block and tackle lines to ease the material over the side.  Hundreds of board feet of lumber, 8,000 pounds of concrete and all the other materials needed for a 100 foot suspension bridge were lowered into the gorge using only muscle power to control the pull of gravity.


View up Big Sody Creek Gorge

Right:  The derrick rests after a hard day of lowering materiel to the Soddy Bridge site.  View is looking north up the gorge.








Click on photos for larger image.

Photos this page:  Mark Richie




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Big Soddy Bridge — 3 Comments

  1. Pingback: An Insider’s Guide to the Cumberland Trail – user's Blog!

  2. Crossed it today for the first time! (April 16, 2016) What a marvel and can’t say enough to thank those who made it possible.

  3. Impressive project by the CTC, funded in part with a Recreational Trails Program grant from the Federal Highway Adminsitration and the TN Department of Environment and Conservation, Recreation Services Division.
    Great partnershipsinvolved to make this bridge a reality!