When first conceived, the Cumberland Trail was expected to turn south from the Obed River and run through the Lone Mountain State Forest. From Lone Mountain, it would have followed a 21-mile section along Whetstone Mountain and then Walden Ridge into the town of Oliver Springs. From Oliver Springs, the trail followed Walden Ridge northeast through Lake City into Caryville, where it joins the current route of the CT.
Although much of the older route was constructed, these sections fell into disrepair after the State of Tennessee pulled support from the Cumberland Trail in the 1980s. Much of this land was privately owned when the CT was first built, and much is now held by the Coal Creek Company, which operates its holdings as a pay-for-play recreation area that caters primarily to ATV riders.
With the acquisition of the lands that are now part of the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area, the opportunity to use a huge new area of public land and the opportunity for the Cumberland Trail to visit the Cumberland Mountains threw support to the trail’s current route. −HR