Maps & Trail Information
(See Ed. Note at bottom regarding important update work on trail descriptions)
Still a work-in-progress, the Cumberland Trail is a remote footpath that passes north to south through 11 Tennessee counties and two time zones on the eastern escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau. Once completed, the trail corridor will be contained on public lands. As of December 2017, 210 miles are open for hiking and other outdoor activities. The trail is divided into 12 Segments with 23 Sections and over 50 trail heads. Between these segments, land acquisition for the proposed trail corridor is an on-going process, so gaps in the proposed trail route do exist. New Sections are added as they are completed and opened. Target date for the completion of trail within currently owned state land is late 2019.
The Cumberland Trails Conference, along with Tennessee’s Department of Environment and Conservation, other government agencies, and private organizations are all diligently working to acquire the needed land and close the gaps. The open sections are all uniquely different and allow hikers to visit remote areas preserved for their natural or scenic beauty that cannot be otherwise accessed.
The enabling legislation for the Cumberland Trail designates it for foot traffic only. Horses and motorized vehicles are prohibited.
Hiking the Cumberland Trail
For trail users interested in over-night camping, regulations vary depending on the land managing agency. Some back country sites have been established that require registration, while in other areas camping is allowed anywhere but Leave No Trace practices are encouraged. As with most remote back country, water sources, all drinking water should be treated. See our LINKS section for the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Park web site and specific camping information.
Day hikers can access the CT at one of more than 30 trailheads spread out over 12 Segments. Each segment and each section within the segment is detailed to the right with trail head directions, maps, GPS data, description and photos.
In addition to providing quality outdoor experiences and supporting tourism, the Cumberland Trail brings opportunities for conservation education and the protection of natural and cultural resources. Tennessee’s hiking trails are a prime attraction to the most visited parks and provide numerous opportunities for environmental and cultural education. The CT brings watershed and view shed protection, greenway corridors, and wildlife conservation to this rich ecological region. Located in an economically challenged region; the Cumberland Trail provides both recreation and viable renewable economic opportunities to the communities of the Cumberland Plateau. Furthermore, the Cumberland Trail is a major component of the Great Eastern Trail. Once completed, this trail will provide hikers with an alternative to the relatively crowded Appalachian Trail.
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).
(Editors Note: In 2016 a major project is underway to update maps and trail descriptions. In places descriptions are more up to date then maps. In other places trail has been rerouted to eliminate road walks or new parking areas have been added. This is a monumental project so please be patient.)