The Cumberland Trail is an ambitious hiking trail project under development in East Tennessee. When completed, the Cumberland Trail (CT) will extend more than 300 miles from its northern terminus in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (TN/KY) to its southern terminus at the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park located on Signal Mountain just outside Chattanooga, Tennessee. Nearly 190 miles of the trail is open for hiking.
The scenic footpath follows a line of high ridges and deep gorges along or near the rugged, eastern edge of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau. The trail offers a unique wilderness experience and many scenic views, waterfalls, landscapes, gorges, wildlife, and widely varying flora. As a remote, back-country trail, it meanders through eleven Tennessee counties, on lands managed by Tennessee’s Departments of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and Tennessee Forestry.
The trail also connects two national parks and passes through a National Wild & Scenic River area. In 1998 the trail was redefined as an ambitious State Park project, designated as the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park, Tennessee’s first linear state park. As it has evolved, the park is much more than a hiking trail. It is now the second largest Tennessee state park. But the trail is more than the state park, extending beyond the park boundaries through segments that traverse other state and some federal properties through agreements with TDEC. The CT is an official component of the Tennessee Recreational Trails System and a legislatively designated State Scenic Trail. Additionally the Cumberland Trail is a part of the Great Eastern Trail, which is under development and will extend from Alabama to New York when completed.
The CTC is also an active member of the Southeastern Foot Trails Collation which is organized to make interconnections between eight long distance trails in the Southeast region.
The continued development and maintenance of the Cumberland Trail is accomplished through a working relationship between the Cumberland Trails Conference (CTC), the CT State Park and TDEC. The CTC, other nonprofits, private corporations, foundations, individuals, and others assist TDEC in raising funds for land acquisition, providing maintenance, and further developing the Cumberland Trail.
This extensive trail is being constructed and maintained largely by volunteers from Tennessee and across the nation. Efforts are organized and managed by TDEC with paid and volunteer labor provided through the CTC. The Cumberland Trails Conference (CTC) a non-profit 501-(c)(3) membership organization. The mission of the CTC is to provide paid and volunteer labor, equipment, supplies and vehicles to construct and maintain the trail under the auspices of TDEC, and to raise funds in support of the Cumberland Trail.
Building the CT is a grassroots effort, driven by communities along the trail and a broad network of individuals from across the U.S. This very successful private/public partnership is a model often cited to demonstrate the power of volunteerism and public/private partnerships.
Through efforts overwhelmingly driven by volunteers, in nearly 20 years, 190 miles of the trail have been constructed. Trail miles are divided into 15 segments, addressable through this site. Please explore this website.
Your support is greatly needed and there are many ways to help with this project. You can take a hike on the Cumberland Trail, volunteer time for trail construction and maintenance, become a member of the CTC, or make a monetary contribution to the project toward construction of new trail and bridges.
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) or click the map for a larger version.
The Cumberland Trail is part of the Great Eastern Trail:
The CTC is a working member of the Southeastern Foot Trails Coalition: