Lower Loop Trail Professional Review and Guide
"This is one of the premier overnight trails in the Cumberlands. Much of the trail stays on top of the plateau, winding around through ridges with meadows, and goes by many of the scenic highlights of the park, crossing three great suspension bridges along the way. A 2-mile section of the trail winds across Cane Creek Gulf, losing 700 feet in elevation, then regains it, while crossing several boulder fields, providing the hiker with some challenges.It is fi tting that this backpacking trip start at the “Old Maintenance Area,” which is actually the original headquarters and construction shops of the National Park Service, which started work on the park in 1935. Many of the buildings that you see surrounding the parking area are from those days. The backpacking trail is technically in two separate loops, the Upper Loop and the Lower Loop of the Cane Creek Overnight Trail."
--Kelley Roark and Stuart Carroll, Hiking Tennessee (Falcon Guides).
Nice trail, very well marked. The best time to go is NOW!, in the spring the water is high and waterfalls are amazing! from what I hear, late summer/ fall there all dried up...
it starts off with a nice warm up hike of like 3 mi to camp one, we stopped and ate, then a hard push to camp 2. 800 ft elevation change in .7 mi. we spent the night at camp 2, there is clean water there, then a day of moderatly level terrain but its like 8 or 9 mi back to the parking.
There is no water source at Camp 2. After we left camp 1 at around mile 3, there was no water to be found until we hit the first falls at around mile 9. There is no mention of this anywhere that I could find, and it made it rough. We brought 3 32oz nalgenes and katadyn water filter with the expectation of some decent water sources...There is a small waterfall about 400 yards before camp 2 on a small UNMARKED off-trail. It was dry except for a small trickle. We were able to fill a 32oz nalgene in about 8 minutes. Outside of the lack of water sources, its a nice hike for experienced hikers. The drop into the gorge is a little much for the inexperienced as its got several places you have to scramble. Personally, we would not do this hike again for those reasons.
This is probably one of the best weekend hikes eventhough the main attractions are heavily traffiked and developed. The trail offers everything contained in the park in one trek: solitary woodland walking, tough climbs and decents through a spectacular gorge, amazing overlooks, and even a couple of short off-trail opportunities such as navigating your way to the top of Piney Creek Falls. Take advantage of the side trails to the base of Fall Creek Falls and to Millikan's Overlook, you may be tired but it is worth it.
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