Big Dig 2015

For the first time in eleven years, the Cumberland Trail Conference conducted another Big Dig.  The concept was to rally a sustained volunteer effort to build a specific section of trail.  Big Dig 2015 officially ran from September 15, 2015 to October 25.  But work began three weeks earlier.  Long disused logging roads had to be cleared enough to allow access to the trail building area.

Working in conjunction with Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail personnel, a general trail design concept was agreed on for a seven mile work area.  Big Dig 2015 was focused on extending the 14 mile Daddy’s Creek Segment south from Devil’s Breakfast Table.

Box Score

Total Finished Trail Built:  10, 780′

Volunteer Hours: 820

Crew Hours: 388

Flags mark intended trail alignment

Flags mark intended trail alignment

After a botanical, wildlife and archaeological survey and,  clearance from the Cumberland Trail State Park, trail designers from the Cumberland Trail Conference began scouting and designing the alignment of the trail.

When ground conditions allowed, work was expedited with the use of a machine called a Skid-Steer.  The machine roughs up the ground in the trail corridor making it easier for crews to dig down to soil suitable for a firm trail tread.

The Big Dig work week was Thursday through Sunday.  The paid seasonal trail crew worked all four days and was joined by volunteers nearly every day.  The schedule was arranged to allow volunteers who work during the week plenty of opportunities to participate.

Volunteer Participation is Critical.  Some days two people showed up.  Other days ten volunteers found their way to the work site.    Overnight accommodations were made available at the near by Eden Ridge Missionary Retreat. Some volunteers came from more than 100 miles away.

As seen in the Box Score above, volunteer participation continues to be critical for construction of the CT.

Volunteers put in nearly two and a half times the work hours as the paid crew.

The number is actually higher since a dozen volunteers also worked in the weeks before the official start of Big Dig to clear brush and blow-downs from old logging roads needed to get workers closer to the dig sites.

One hundred feet above Daddys Creek a hiker pauses to enjoy the view

One hundred feet above Daddys Creek, a hiker pauses to enjoy the view

The Pay Off –  The CT is, after all, a Scenic Trail.   A short spur off the main trail takes hikers to Daddy’s Knob Overlook.  The new extension starts at Hebbertsburg Road about three miles north of Crab Orchard, Tennessee. Roughly 9,600 feet in, the trail meets Daddy’s Creek and follows along the banks for about two miles.

In other areas the trail passes numerous rock houses and other huge rock formations.  With a 100 foot elevation change along the way there is bound to be an overlook.  At Daddy’s Knob Overlook hikers look nearly due south up the Daddy’s Creek watershed.

Even though Big Dig officially ended October 25, the paid crew continues working north toward Devil’s Breakfast Table and a link with the existing CT at that point.  Volunteers are always welcome to join in the construction work.  Call the CTC office at or Mitch,

Photos this page – Mark Richie

  • Volunteers clear old logging roads to allow access to Big Dig work sites

  • Volunteers work on final grooming of trail tread on the Daddys Creek extension

  • CTC Board Member Gary Darnell uses a skid-steer to rough up the ground, move rocks and cut roots

  • CTC Board Member John Redmon provides moral support for first time volunteer Rob Curee

  • Rock steps mark where the trail meets Daddys Creek, 9,581 feet from Hebbertsburg Road

  • CTC Crew Member Red Young works doing initial brush and blow down clearing just yards from Hatfield Ford

  • CTC Life Member Mark Richie takes a break to enjoy the beauty of Daddy’s Creek and the fall colors

  • CTC Crew Member Pete Bernsten leads a finishing crew at the 10,000 foot mark along the Daddys Creek extension

  • CTC Construction Manager Mitch Wolfe, seated, works at his portable office along Daddys Creek