Note: This section of the CT is in Central Time.
Through hiking all 7.5 miles available as of October 2016. Six miles north from trailhead parking, the CT enters a Wildlife Management Area. During big game hunts hikers are required to wear fluorescent orange clothing. Details in the descriptions below. There are several features in this section that make out and back day hikes enjoyable including an overlook, rock formations and almost a mile next to Daddys Creek.
Distance: The total section length is 7.5 miles. The length of the southern portion from the Hebbertsburg Road trailhead near the TVA power lines to the intersection of the main trail with the connector trail to the yellow gate parking area is 2.5 miles one-way; the length of the northern portion from the intersection of the connector trail with the main trail to the trailhead at East Keyes Road is 4.7 miles one way. The length of the connector trail (yellow blazes) is 865 feet or 0.16 mile.
Elevation Change: Hebbertsburg Road to Yellow Gate Connector: 258 feet; Yellow Gate Connector to East Keyes Road: 324 feet.
Cautions: This section of trail runs through managed hunt areas. Check the TWRA web site for big game season: https://www.tn.gov/twra/section/hunting-in-tennessee or call TWRA District 3 office at 931 456 3069. Wear florescent orange, high visibility clothing during hunting season. It is recommended you wear orange clothing or a vest even when there is no hunting in the area. The Overlook provides a nice view of the Daddys Creek Gorge. Use caution on the ledges while enjoying the view.
Camping: There is one authorized overnight camping site beside Daddys Creek 5.0 miles North of the Southern terminus (trailhead under the power lines at Hebbertsburg Road) and 2.6 miles North of the connector trail junction. Tent sites are designated with signage. There is no potable water at this campsite although it is next to the creek. Boil or filter creek water first. Please practice “Leave no Trace” principles when hiking and camping on the trail. Camping on the Cumberland Trail is by permit only. Permits and vehicle overnight parking registration can be obtained online at http://www.friendsofthecumberlandtrail.org/camping/.
Water: There are no safe water sources along this section of trail. Bring your own drinking water; boil or sterilize all water from local sources.
Topographic Map: Ozone Quadrangle; USGS US Topo 7.5-minute map for Dorton, TN 2016
Note on spelling Daddys: The U.S. Board on Geographic Names, part of the U.S. Geological Survey, has a standardized policy dating back to 1890 discouraging the use of possessive forms and especially apostrophes in place names. Current USGS maps use Daddys Creek vs. Daddy’s Creek. An explanation can be found here under Item 18: https://geonames.usgs.gov/domestic/faqs.htm
Interestingly an 1891 USGS map of Cumberland County shows the creek as “Daddy Creek.”
Only five place names in the US are exceptions to this standard. If you have extra time the explanation can be found here: https://geonames.usgs.gov/docs/DNC_PPP_DEC_2016_V.1.0.pdf, page 36.
CTC descriptions follow USGS map practice.
Trailhead sign at yellow gate parking area on Hebbertsburg Road
Southern Terminus (El. 1707′ N35 56.930 W84 51.135) on Hebbertsburg Road 300 feet North of the TVA power lines access road.
Hebbertsburg Road Crossing South Side (EL. 1751′ N35 41.615 W84 56.107)
Hebbertsburg Road Crossing North Side (El. 1750′ N35 57.612 W84 50.105 )
Hebbertsburg Road Yellow Gate Trail Connector (N35 57.970 W84 50.048)
Hebbertsburg Road Yellow Gate Parking Lot (El. 1714′ N35 57.963 W84 50.024)
Northern Terminus (El. 1671′ N35 59.196, W84 49.75) on East Keyes Road
Parking: The only authorized parking is at the Yellow Gate Parking lot about 2 miles beyond the TVA power lines. There are no parking lots at the either the Southern terminus or Northern terminus. Limited off road parking is available at the power line crossing of Hebbertsburg Rd. near the Southern terminus. Do not block the access road. Limited shoulder parking is available on East Keyes Road near the northern terminus or under the small power line that runs parallel to East Keyes Rd. The power line can be accessed about .1 mile East of the trailhead. Do not block any access or roadway. Placing a shuttle vehicle at one of these locations prevents having to backtrack. However, do so at your own risk.
To Southern Terminus: From East or West, take I40 Exit 329, Crab Orchard. From East, turn right; from West turn left toward the little town of Crab Orchard. Cross US 70 and the railroad track. Turn left on Main Street. In a short distance turn right on Hebbertsburg Road. Take Hebbertsburg Road North for 3.3 miles to the power line crossing. Park beneath the power line and walk North along the road for about 300 feet to the trailhead on the right (N35 56.930 W84 51.135).
Yellow Gate – Daddys Creek
Cumberland Trail Daddy’s Creek Trailhead
To Yellow Gate Parking and Connector Trail: From East or West, take I40 Exit 329, Crab Orchard. From East, turn right; from West turn left toward the little town of Crab Orchard. Cross US 70 and the railroad track. Turn left on Main Street. In a short distance turn right on Hebbertsburg Road. Continue 5.2 miles north on Hebbertsburg Road passing the entrance to Eden Ridge camp on the right. The next gravel road on the left is the trailhead parking. Park along the sides of the parking area leaving room for vehicle access to the yellow gate. Do not block the yellow gate. The connector trailhead is just inside the yellow bar gate on the left (yellow blazes).
There is a large sign on the left at the trailhead that reads “Cumberland Trail Daddy’s Creek”. The 800 foot connector trail takes you to the junction with the main trail.
Corner of Keys-Harrison access road and Hebbertsburg Road approaching from Crab Orchard
To Northern Terminus: From East or West, take I40 Exit 329, Crab Orchard. From East, turn right; from West turn left toward the little town of Crab Orchard. Cross US 70 and the railroad track. Turn left on Main Street. In a short distance turn right on Hebbertsburg Road. In 5.2 miles pass the yellow gate parking area on the left. Continue another 1.2 miles to East Keyes Road on left. See a large TDEC sign for Keyes-Harrison WMA. Turn left onto East Keyes Road. Shortly on the left is an opening into the power line right of way. You can park here and walk East Keyes Road for about .3 mile to the trailhead on the left or continue about .3 mile to the trailhead on the left and park on the either side of the road but well off the road.
The trail is marked with signage and white tree blazes. The Southern terminus of this segment of the Cumberland Trail will eventually connect south to Ozone Falls on a route to be determined. The Northern terminus of this segment will cross the Catoosa WMA to connect with the Southern terminus of the Obed River Segment on Firetower Road at Devil’s Breakfast Table (N36 03.523 W84 47.548).
The Southern terminus begins on Hebbertsburg Road near the power lines just South of De Lozier Branch and climbs to the crest of the ridge above Daddys Creek and then drops into the Daddys Creek gorge before climbing back to near the crest and meandering to the Northern terminus on East Keyes Road. The hiker will encounter mountain laurel, rhododendron, hemlock, pine and hardwood forest. Most of the forest is recent scrub growth to second- and third-growth timber but contains virtually all species of hard and softwood trees indigenous to East Tennessee. There is a lovely overlook into Daddys Creek gorge roughly 1 mile from the yellow gate trailhead. (El. 1,712′) N35 57.97, W84 50 33.41 The walk along Daddys Creek is beautiful and peaceful at any time of year.
Day Hikers – The day hiker can cover the entire trail from Southern terminus to Northern terminus in about 6 hours of casual walking with a couple of rest breaks and a lunch break. However, shorter in-and-out trips offer equally rewarding experiences.
Since parking is limited at both Northern and Southern termini, hikers may choose to begin at the yellow gate parking area. Recognizing that choice, this guide describes the trail in its entirety from South to North and includes a description of the section from the Yellow Gate parking area to the Southern terminus in a North to South direction at the end.
Flora and Geology – This section of the Cumberland Trail exhibits typical tertiary and later regrowth mixed hardwood, pine and hemlock forest. Wildflowers are abundant as well as wildlife and birds. Larry Pounds has compiled a nice list of wildflowers the hiker might see along the Cumberland Trail.
The geology of the area is exemplified nicely on this trail in the form of exposed sandstone cap rock, boulders, bluffs and caves. The rocks and bluffs visible were created when the Pennsylvanian time period began about 300 million years ago and a great change in the deposition of sediment occurred. In Tennessee the Pennsylvanian age rocks reflect this change by being dominantly sandstone, siltstone, and shale rather than the carbonate rocks of the earlier Paleozoic time. The sandstone cap rock which is exposed in places underfoot as you walk this segment was created by the alternate transgression and regression of the vast Appalachian sea which created alternate layers of sandstone over shale over limestone. Later tectonic plate movement caused the upthrust of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau. Erosion of the softer limestone created gorges and left the sandstone cap. Erosion also left arches of sandstone which in time broke and fell into the gorges below. This explains the presence of huge sandstone boulders in the gorges beneath the hills and ridges. Today the sandstone cap is exposed in places where wind and water have taken away the thin layer of soil. You see an especially good example of this at mile 2.3.
Note: Because parking for this section is off a connector trail, descriptions have been written three ways:
Southern Terminus to Yellow Gate Connector Trail (South to North) 2.5 miles
Yellow Gate Parking Area to East Keyes Road (South to North) 4.7 miles
Yellow Gate Connector Trail to Southern Terminus (North to South) 2.5 miles
Raised Boardwalk near southern trailhead for Daddys Creek Section off Hebbertsburg Road (Mark Richie)
Mile 0.0 (7.2) The trail begins at Hebbertsburg Road just North of the TVA power line right of way. Descend gently with the power lines off to your right. Cross a small drainage in about 150 feet. The trail bends to the left.
Mile 0.2 (7.0) Shortly, there is a spur trail on the left leading down to a nice rock bluff and small rock house. A second spur on the left leads to the same feature a few yards further along. Continue on through older growth mixed forest.There is a nice stone bench on the left.
Mile 0.3 (6.9) Switchback to the left and then in a few feet switchback to the right gently descending into older growth hardwood forest. In about 150 feet, cross three wet weather drainages in the next .1 mile. Notice the TVA power lines through the canopy uphill to the right. Cross the second of three drainages as the trail bends right.
Mile 0.5 (6.7) Cross the third drainage as the trail descends into the ravine where it bends left and ascends again to near the crest of the ridge.
Mile 0.6 (6.6) Begin to descend to DeLozier Branch. Note the young white pines on the left, the hemlock and mountain laurel.
Mile 0.7 (6.5) Cross bridge at DeLozier Branch. Continue as the trail ascends through mountain laurel.
Bridge at DeLozier Branch added 2016 (Hupp)
Mile 0.9 (6.3) Switchback to the right and then in about 150 feet switchback again to the left as the trail continues to ascend.
Mile 1.1 (6.1) Cross another drainage on large stones. Use caution.
Mile 1.2 (6.0) Descend briefly then level out before cresting the ridge. In about 150 feet the trail intersects an old road. Turn left and follow the old road bed for the next .25 mile.
Mile 1.4 (5.8) Notice another old road on the left with a cable gate across. Do not take this road. Continue straight ahead.
Mile 1.7 (5.5) The road bed crosses a stream over a large culvert and then ascends slightly. Watch for it to turn sharply to the left. Do not make the turn. Instead look ahead for the trail to leave the old road on the right.
Mile 1.9 (5.3) Descend slightly as the trail leaves the old road and continues through a stand of chestnut oaks.
Mile 2.0 (5.2) The trail begins to descend following a rock bluff on the left. Cross a double switchback. The large rock house on the left is known as “the cave”. Below to the right is Long Rockhouse Branch. Switchback right and use caution descending the steep steps. The trail exits the forest onto Hebbertsburg Road. Turn right uphill into the curve watching for the trailhead on the left across the road in about 100 feet. On this short road walk, note the gravel road to the right with a blue single bar gate which is an active private road. While there is room for two or three cars, the road and gate must not be blocked. Cross the road and reenter the woods on a short flight of stone steps. Hebbertsburg Road Trail Crossing Coordinates: N35 57 36.9, W84 50 06.50 ′ (El: 1,750)
Moss covered rockhouse greets hiker near trailhead on Hebbertsburg Road. Daddy’s Creek Section of Crab Orchard Segment
Mile 2.2 (5.0) A large moss covered rock shelf juts out almost over the trail on the right. Ascend through hemlocks and some older growth forest.
Mile 2.3 (4.9) Switchback right beneath a large bluff known as “The Castle” then left as the trail climbs a cleft in the bluff. Once on top, notice the sandstone cap beneath your feet. This illustrates nicely the effect of erosion over the eons that carved away the softer limestone leaving the coves and ridges of the Cumberland Plateau region.
Mile 2.4 (4.8) Trail crosses multiple drainages on large rock step stones.
Mile 2.5 (4.7) The connector trail with yellow blazes on the right leads to the yellow gate parking area. Notice on your left the sign indicating the main trail direction North to the Overlook, Campsite, and Keyes Road and South to Hebbertsburg Road. The sign misspells Hebbertsburg.
Junction sign at connector trail from trailhead parking, Daddys Creek Section.
Connector Trail to Main Trail: The connector trailhead is 150 feet from Hebbertsburg Road on the left just beyond the yellow gate. This connector with yellow blazes passes through scrub mixed forest of recent growth for 865 feet before intersecting the main trail. At all times of year both open field and forest birds can be seen and heard due to the open canopy.
Mile 2.5 (4.7) Intersection with the main trail. At the junction, notice the sign indicating the main trail direction North to the Overlook, Campsite, and Keyes Road and South to Hebbertsburg Road. The sign misspells Hebbertsburg. Turn right heading northerly toward East Keyes Road.
Mile 2.6 (4.6) The trail begins a short gentle descent. The forest here is mostly hardwood recent growth.
Mile 2.8 (4.4) The trail begins a gentle undulating descent through mountain laurel and mixed forest. Cross a small wet weather drainage.
Mile 2.9 (4.3) Continue through a nice white pine glade.
Mile 3.0 (4.2) The trail begins to descend. Switchback up stone steps and shortly climb stone steps between two large white pine trees.
Mile 3.2 (4.0) Cross a wet weather drainage as the trail meanders through mixed scrub forest.
Mile 3.3 (3.9) Notice the large colonies of ground pine through the next 0.10 mile.
Daddys Creeek Overlook spur looking south bound. (Richie)
Mile 3.5 (3.7) Overlook spur. A short 125 foot spur trail on the left leads to an overlook with splendid views south up Daddys Creek Gorge and its mixed forest below. The fall colors can be spectacular and winter views without foliage provide an expansive look at the gorge. This is also a good spot for birders who want to glimpse raptors in flight. (El. 1,712′) N35 57.97, W84 50 33.41
Mile 3.6 (3.6) From the overlook spur, the trail begins a steady gentle descent into Daddys Creek Gorge.
Mile 3.7 (3.5) Cross a large wet weather drainage with stones for fording. Notice the small stone shelf on the right. Note the thin sedimentary layers visible in the rocks on the right before descending on stone steps.
Mile 3.8 (3.4) The trail veers away from Daddys Creek below to the left and leaves the older growth forest with its larger trees and then continues to descend into Daddys Creek Gorge.
Mile 4.0 (3.2) The trail passes rhododendron thickets on the right. Dense rhododendron thickets are called “hells” because they are so difficult to penetrate. The trail begins its final undulating descent before leveling out in the gorge. Trail joins Daddys Creek at N35 43.85, W84 51 00.28. Elevation 1,542′.
Mile 4.3 (2.9) For the next .9 mile, the trail follows Daddys Creek on the left through generally level terrain. Note that Daddys Creek flows north. There are stands of hemlock, white pine, rhododendron and mountain laurel as well as mixed hardwoods. There are interesting rock bluffs on the right along the way.
CTC Volunteer Pat Lavin at The Billboard, Daddys Creek Section 2016. (Richie
Mile 4.4 (2.8) The trail crosses Hatfield Branch which runs most of the time except in dry seasons. Just before the crossing there is a rock bluff on the right as you cross a drainage on stone steps. This bluff weeps water all year and is known as the “Billboard” because it can be seen from the Fairfield Glade Overlook Trail across the creek.
Wave to the hikers on the other side of Daddys Creek. Also note the fairly good sized large leaf magnolia on the left in this area. Magnolia Macrophylla, the “large leaf magnolia”, is a deciduous magnolia native to the southeastern United States and eastern Mexico. It boasts the largest simple leaf and single flower of any native plant in North America.
CTC Board Member and description author, Frank Jamison, at Hatfield Ford. View is looking south on the trail. Hatfield Road rises to the left for a side hike to an old quarry. Daddys Creek is to the right out of the frame (Deakins).
Mile 4.5 (2.7) Note the old roadbed (Hatfield Road) on the right (east) leading up the hill. This area was Hatfield Ford across Daddys Creek, though no actual ford is visible today. There is a rockhouse on the right just after Hatfield Ford. A nice stone bench is here on the edge of the creek.
Side trip: Hike up hill on abandoned Hatfield Road for about 800 feet. After a slight bend to the right make a HARD LEFT at the T intersection. Hike on the overgrown road bed for about 200 feet and enter an abandoned surface mine that extends for more than 1,000 feet with a 70 foot high quarry face. The mine closed in the mid 1980s. It is now part of Cumberland Trail property.
Mile 4.6 (2.6) Cross two wet weather drainages separated about 150 feet and then shortly descend on some stone steps.
Mile 4.7 (2.5) After crossing another wet weather drainage, pass through a nice stand of Hemlock. Note some Woolly Adelgid damage. There is a small rock house just ahead on the right.
Mile 4.8 (2.4) Continue with rock bluffs on the right and cross another small wet weather drainage.
Mile 5.0 (2.2) Primitive campsite. (N35 58 32.916 W84 50 57.75) Tent sites are designated with signage. There is no potable water at this campsite. Campers must obtain a permit before camping overnight anywhere along the Cumberland Trail.
Wolf Den Rocks primitive campsite (Richie)
Note the bluffs on the other side of Daddys Creek and note the old road leading up the hill to the right. Trail continues north along the creek.
Mile 5.1 (2.1) Cross two wet weather drainages in quick succession.
Mile 5.2 (2.0) Shortly, the trail will veer away from Daddys Creek and begin to ascend. This area is known as Barnes Ford and there is an old road that can be seen ascending on the right. There used to be a ford near here across Daddys Creek but no remnant of it remains other than the road.
Mile 5.3 (1.9) Switchback as the trail ascends.
Mile 5.5 (1.7) Switchback again as the trail continues to ascend.
Mile 5.6 (1.6) The trail levels for about .1 mile.
Mile 5.9 (1.3) Ascend slightly through mixed hardwood forest.
GOOD ! Hikers on the CT where it enters Keys-Harrison WMA must wear fluorescent clothing during hunting seasons. (Richie)
Bad example of hiking into KH during hunting season.
NOT GOOD. Hiking north into Keys-Harrison WMA during hunting season requires fluorescent high-visibility clothing.
Mile 6.0 Enter the Keyes-Harrison WMA. (N35 58.81 W84 50.380). Hikers are required to wear florescent orange during big game season. Check the TWRA web site for big game season dates: https://www.tn.gov/twra/section/hunting-in-tennessee or call TWRA District 3 office at 931 456 3069.
Mile 6.1 (1.1) Cross an unnamed small branch that is usually dry except in wet weather.
Mile 6.3 (0.9) Ascend slightly and then switchback across Rocky Branch.
Mile 6.4 (0.8) Continue gentle ascent and then switchback at a small drainage. Note the large chestnut oak and large red oak nearby. The trail undulates along the ridge among recent growth hickory, oak, maple and hemlock.
Mile 7.1 (.1) Cross under power lines.
Mile 7.2 (0.0) Trail emerges onto East Keyes Road. Eventually, the trail will continue north via a road walk into the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area.
Trailhead on Keys Road looking south bound. (Deakins)
Mile 2.5 (0.0) At the junction of the connector and main trails, turn left to hike toward the Southern terminus. Notice the sign indicating the main trail direction North to the Overlook, Campsite, and Keyes Road and South to Hebbertsburg Road. The sign misspells Hebbertsburg.
Life Member Mark Richie at Junction sign for connector trail from trailhead parking on Hebbertsburg Road. (Renfrow)
Mile 2.3 (0.2) Notice the sandstone cap beneath your feet. This illustrates nicely the effect of erosion over the eons that carved away the softer limestone leaving the Crab Orchard Mountain chain and created the coves and ridges of the Cumberland Plateau region. Switchback left beneath a large bluff known as “The Castle” on the right and then right as the trail descends a cleft in the bluff.
Mile 2.2 (0.3) A large rock shelf juts out almost over the trail on the left. Ascend through hemlocks and some older growth forest.The trail exits the forest onto Hebbertsburg Road. Cross the road and turn right downhill into the curve watching for the trailhead on the left in about 100 feet. At this point the road crosses Long Rockhouse Branch. Hebbertsburg Road Trail Crossing Coordinates: N35 57 36.9, W84 50 06.50 (El: 1,750)
Mile 2.0 (0.5) The trail begins to ascend following a rock bluff on the right. Cross a double switchback. The large rock house on the right is known as “The Cave”. Switchback left and use caution ascending the steep steps.
Mile 1.9 (0.6) Ascend slightly as the trail leaves the old road and continues through a stand of chestnut oaks.
Mile 1.7 (0.8) Descend to a road bed. Turn to the left following the road across a stream over a large culvert.
Mile 1.4 (1.1) Notice another old road on the right with a cable gate across. Do not take this road. Continue straight ahead.
Mile 1.2 (1.3) Leave the old road.
Mile 1.1 (1.4) Cross another drainage on large stones. Use caution.
Mile 0.9 (1.6) Switchback to the left and then in about 150 feet switchback again to the right as the trail descends.
Mile 0.7 (1.8) Continue as the trail descends through mountain laurel to De Lozier Branch. Cross bridge at De Lozier Branch.
Mile 0.6 (1.9) Note the young white pines on the left, the hemlock and mountain laurel.
Mile 0.5 (2.0) Cross the third drainage as the trail ascends from the ravine to near the crest of the ridge where it bends right.
Raised Boardwalk near southern trailhead for Daddys Creek Section
Mile 0.3 (2.2) Cross three wet weather drainages in the next 0.1 mile. Notice the TVA power lines through the canopy uphill to the left. Cross the second of three drainages as the trail bends left. Gently ascend into older growth hardwood forest and then switchback to the right and then in a few feet switchback to the left.
Mile 0.2 (2.3) There is a nice stone bench on the right. Shortly, there is a spur trail on the right leading down to a nice rock bluff and small rockhouse. A second spur on the right leads to the same feature a few yards further along. Continue on through older growth mixed forest.
Mile 0.0 (2.5) The trail emerges onto Hebbertsburg Road just North of the TVA power line right of way about 300 feet to the left.
— Frank Jamison, CTC Board Member
South bound thru hikers must use local road maps and road walk approximately 7.7 miles to Black Mountain and pick up the trail again.
Three point five (3.5) miles south of the southern terminus is the village of Crab Orchard next to I-40. There are two gas stations and a convenience store.
Cross I-40 and follow Bat Town Road to the left turn for the paved road to the top of Black Mountain. Although the road is paved, the elevation gain is 922 feet.
Like everything on the Cumberland Trail, this is a team effort. Great thanks to Frank Jamison for writing the final description and Don Deakins who created the maps. To Caroline Woerner who pushed a measuring wheel over the northern section and Carol Deakins who helped with notes and logged measurements. Initial measurement wheeling, GPS and elevation data was gathered by Mark Richie, Mike Westfall and Bob Obohoski. Trail scouting and design by Pete Bernsen, Mark Richie, Gary Grametbauer and CTSST Ranger Anthony Jones.
Initial trail design and clearing of overgrown roads for better crew access began in August 2014. In addition to paid crew, numerous local volunteers invested over 1,000 hours in this project. Students from Florida International University, Wartburg College (Iowa) and the University of Tennessee worked on this section. Final trail acceptance by the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail and sign placement was November 2016.