This section of the Cumberland Trail was constructed over 35 years ago by Tennessee Division Forestry employees and is the oldest portion of the Cumberland Trail that has remained continually open. The Poplar Spring Section links the Signal & Edward Points Section of the Tennessee River Gorge Segment with the Mullens Cove Loop Trail in Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife Management Area (WMA). When the Cumberland Trail is constructed north from the crossing of North Suck Creek (see Signal & Edward Points Section Mile 7.0), this Poplar Springs Section will provide access from an alternative Southern Terminus of the CT.
This description begins at the main trailhead for the Cumberland Trail in Prentice Cooper State Forest and ends at TN 27 as its northern terminus. TN 27 is also known as Suck Creek Road because it parallels Suck Creek, which got its unusual name because where it flows into the Tennessee River, it once caused rapids and whirlpools that were said to suck in boats before a dam on the river submerged the rapids.
There are also two loop trails that join this section in the Prentice Cooper State Forest totaling over 20 miles with several campsites, making this area very popular with backpackers and hunters. The State Forest was named for Prentice Cooper, governor of Tennessee from 1939 to 1945, who was instrumental in preserving this 24,686-acre forest of chestnut oaks, white oaks, and shortleaf pines in 1945. Highlights of this section include overlooks of the Tennessee River, many unusual rock formations, rockhouses, and bluffs. In spring, expect to see an abundance of ferns, holly, woodland bluets, halberd-leaved violets, pussy-toes, lady slippers, rue anemone, and jack-in-the-pulpit.