Cumberland Trail Professional Review and Guide
"Numerous cascading streams, tall bluffs with rock formations, and spectacular views of the Tennessee River Gorge adorn this section of the Cumberland Trail through Prentice Cooper State Forest, named for a former governor. Edwards Point offers a view down the river gorge to the nearby city of Chattanooga. Most of Edwards Point was purchased in 1993 by the Tennessee River Gorge Trust, formed to protect a 26-mile stretch of this river gorge where it cuts through Walden Ridge. The trail ends at Signal Point Park on Signal Mountain. Camping is available at Poplar Springs Campsite and at North Suck Creek Campsite."
--Russ Manning, 40 Hikes In Tennessee's South Cumberland (The Mountaineers Books).
I hiked a few miles of this trail from the Signal Point trailhead. There are indeed beautiful views of the Tennessee River Gorge. The trail got really interesting at one point where there has evidently been a recent forest fire. The trees appear to be mostly intact, but I lost the trail at one point. I was disappointed to encounter a bunch of noisy OHV's at one of the overlooks. Prentice Cooper State Park permits OHV's in certain areas and this part of the trail appeared to be one of those areas. I believe I will set out from the opposite trailhead on my next visit. That trailhead was closed on the day of my visit because of turkey hunting season. I do appreciate the work that the Cumberland Trail Conference has done to make the Cumberland Trail a reality.
overall, i had a fantastic time hiking this route. a lot of different rock formations and rushing water to see, bridges to cross, and so on. and the view from edwards point is absolutely stunning. a must see. also, got to experience the last couple miles after the sun had set, but it was a full moon out, and much of the area below signal point was moonlit, very interesting.
the only thing that sort of annoyed me about this trail was, in some places it was very easy to get off course. thing is, though, i hiked it in reverse of what's written in the guide, so maybe if you go in the direction of the guide you won't face the same issue.
Overnighter on the Mullens Cove Loop section of the Tennessee River Gorge sgement of the Cumberland Trail in Prentice-Cooper State Forest. Started at the trailhead on Suck Creek Mtn Road off Highway 27. Easy 4.5 miles (going clockwise on loop) to Hemlock Branch campsite with nice places to stop at Indian Rockhouse (1 mi) and Snoopers Rock overlook (3.5 mi). Area had received a lot of rain the day before so stream crossing were many and slippery. Also it was very foggy (visibility not over 100 yards) and drippy from the dense forest canopy. Couldn't see many views of the river and gorge (this is called the Grand Canyon of Tennessee). Campsite at Hemlock Branch is small and would be a bug haven in warmer weather. Next day hiked back to Snoopers Rock overlook for an early morning view of the river (we awoke to sun on Sunday). The 5.5 miles from Hemlock Branch around the loop to trailhead is more challenging terrain, but nice forest canopy and some interesting streams and small rapids/falls. Overall the trail is well marked, but several sections had serious erosion and washout problems. Someone had marked questionable sections with small orange flags to mark the trail. This was a great trail for our 13 boy scouts which for many was their first experience at backpacking. I wouldn't want to do this trail in the middle summer, and the views might be a bit more open in the late fall and early winter.
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