Billie Smith

Between 2000 and 2002, we spent a lot of time exploring the Big and Little Possum Creek watersheds. Our task was to assess the suitability of the area for the Cumberland Trail and, later, to design the tail.

One day we met Billie Smith as she was finishing a walk through the woods. Billie had lived in the area for a long time, mostly in a log cabin not far from Retro-Hughes Road. She knew Little Possum well; as a child she and her friends frequented many of the places that we “discovered,” some of which have become trail features reported in this guide.

Above and to the northeast of Little Possum Bridge lies a broad, flat bench backed by a 200-foot-high sandstone escarpment that contains a number of shallow caves or “rockhouses.”  Billie told us that a hermit, whom the young people would sometimes visit, occupied one of these caves for years.

Billie also knew about the large shallow cave on the south side of Hughes Ridge (see Mile 2.0); the rocky overhang there provided shelter for the children during storms, so they called it “Umbrella Rock.” (See Mile 7.2 for more from Billie.)