Colditz Cove State Natural Area (SNA) is in the northern portion of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. This ‘bell of the ball’, as they say, of this hike is Northrop Falls but there’s also some classic rock houses and features characteristic of this area. The Colditz Cove Trail is a relatively short (2-ish miles) hike that goes around the top of the falls and behind them in a boomerang-shaped loop.
This SNA is right down the road from Pickett State Park and Big South Fork. (And I’m using the rural definition of ‘right down the road’ which means it’s within 20 miles 😂) Because this whole area of TN is off the beaten path, it stays relatively under the radar. Even on a nice Saturday afternoon, there were only a few other cars in the lot. If you’re making the trek up here, I’d suggest making a weekend of it and visiting all 3 areas because they’re all pretty special. You can also throw in Pogue Creek Canyon for good measure.
P.S. There’s typically no trash cans at the trailheads in state natural areas, so please prepare to pack your trash ALL THE WAY OUT (like all the way home or a gas station or whatever). There’s, unfortunately, just not enough resources for all these areas to have trash cans.
Distance from Nashville: 2 hr 15 min
Trailhead: Northrop Falls Rd off of Rugby Pike (TN-52) near Allardt, TN
Right before you hit Pickett State Park on TN-154, there’s a small pull-off trailhead nestled between fields of fall goldenrod and asters is one of the access points to Pogue Creek Canyon SNA. You’ll also find an astronomy field where you can view to night skies of this International Dark Sky Association certified area.
You’ll start this hike descending into the canyon, briefly ascending, then making the final plunge into the canyon before climbing out again as you near the final overlook. You can also access the Mesa Top Overlook from a shorter, flatter hike from the Moccasin Trailhead (which also marks Moccasin Rock trail that connects to Pickett), although, you will miss out on some pretty stellar things about this state natural area.
This hike will give you rock formations characteristic of the TN North Cumberland Plateau. You’ll pass by several rock houses and a few arches on your way to the Mesa Top Overlook, which is a great place to enjoy lunch and a view of the ‘canyon’. Make sure to take the short side trail to Circle Bar Arch and don’t miss the ‘biggest tiny arch’, Killdeer Arch. There’s also an unmarked side trail to a dripping waterfall (heavier flow when there’s rain), but be prepared to take off your backpack and squeeze through some rocks (not claustrophobic rocks, just rocks jutting out that you kinda off have to snake around). Even though the water was barely flowing, it was a cool area to explore. My favorite part about the hike was how evenly spaced all of the interest points were. There was enough to see to keep the hike engaging the whole time.
One more note: There is an actual ladder about a mile in. I had to carry Luna down and up the ladder (over one shoulder holding with one arm, so I could still grip the rungs; it was quite the sight I’m sure! 🙃) She is very great with steps, even really steep ones, but she could not do this ladder. So, if you can’t safely carry your dog down and up an 8 rung ladder, you may want to leave the pup at home for this one.
If you find yourself in the North Cumberland Plateau area or want to do multiple hikes in this area, I’d suggest doing Pogue Creek Canyon first. It truly is a cool hike with unique features, but I don’t think that it quite impresses as much as Pickett or Big South Fork. So, build up to the rock beauties and do Pogue Creek first, so you are extra impressed by the other hikes in the area.
Distance from Nashville: 2 hr 25 min
Trailhead: Near the Astronomy Field on Pickett Park Hwy (TN-154)
Trail: All of ‘em (Overlook, Upper Canyon Mesa Top)
Located solidly off of any interstate, Laurel-Snow is a beautiful little pocket of the gorges of Walden Ridge in the eastern Cumberland Plateau. It gets it name from 2 waterfalls in the area and is also the first National Recreation Trail designated in Tennessee. Laurel-Snow also contains a section of the Cumberland Trail, although it doesn’t yet directly connect to any other part of the the CT.
The entire area has about 11 miles of trails situation in a ‘Y’ shape. About 1.5 miles in, the trail forks. The right fork takes you to Laurel Falls and Bryan Overlook and the left fork takes to you Snow Falls and Buzzard Point. You’ll find Henderson Creek campsite near the fork and a campsite near each of the waterfalls (water sources near all sites). Doing the entire trial system in an overnight is a bit of a push, but very doable.
The trails are marked relatively well, but it’s very easy to get turned around or wander off on a fake trail, especially as you wander deeper into the area. I would highly recommend having the free Gaia GPS app, which helped us stay on track.
During the first part of the trail, you’ll find remnants of Richland Mine as you meander along Richland Creek. Even with water levels low, this waterway is stunning with its enormous boulders and trickling cascades. We veered left towards Snow Falls and soon came upon the longest metal footbridge I’ve ever crossed at 150 ft. Three connected bridges zig-zagged over the boulder-filled Richland Creek gorge. The trail gets slightly overgrown in this area, basically meaning that the poison ivy is all up on your feet and legs. Take the dirt/jeep road to get to Buzzard Point; it’s definitely worth it the 180 degree views of the gorge and Chickamauga Lake in the distance.
We camped at Morgan Creek, a peaceful site near Snow Falls. You can access the base and the top of the small fall. Because the water level of Morgan Creek was low, we got to hang out in the creek bed and take it all in.
The next morning, we retraced our steps back to the trail fork and headed then headed towards Laurel Falls. You’ll climb out of a gorge, traverse some pretty amazing rock structures and climb through a little rock tunnel, which was especially fun with a loaded pack on your back! Laurel Falls was just a trickle, but the shelf-like rock that formed it was stunning regardless of the water level. We relaxed on the car-sized boulders before heading back to the trailhead.
The only bummer about these trails is that you have to do a lot of backtracking to see everything. You end up basically doing every trial twice. Oh, and poison ivy and ticks. Lots and lots of poison ivy and seed ticks. (I may have found a tick TWO days later attached near my armpit 🤢)
There were lots of people coming to swim in the creek, so that means there was trash, especially along the first 1.5 miles. Please remember to #recreateresponsibly and #leavenotrace. PICK UP TRASH Y’ALL.
Laurel-Snow is a complete winner, just make sure you have a plan, a map and plenty of water (all things you should have for any hike anyways!)
Distance from Nashville: 2 hr 45 min
Trailhead: Pocket Wilderness Road off of Back Valley Rd near Dayton, TN
Trail: Laurel-Snow Trail
Length of trail: 3.3 miles (one way) to end of Laurel Falls Spur Trail, 4.8 miles (one way) to end of Snow Falls Spur Trail. My route was 15.5 miles, split over 2 days
At almost exactly 2 hours away from Nashville, the whole Virgin Falls out-and-back trail clocks in a just about 10 miles.
I honestly forgot how wonderful almost every mile of this hike is; something to see almost the entire time. Y’all know I love a good creek walk and, boy, Big Laurel Creek delivers. It’s such a peaceful walk where you pass by multiple waterfalls, beautiful, lush greenery that remind me of the PNW, and a sweeping add-on view of Scott’s Gulf at Martha’s Pretty Point.
Along the way, you’ll see a few small waterfalls including Big Laurel Falls, Big Branch Falls, and Sheep Cave Falls.
And of course, there is Virgin Falls, the namesake of the trail. The falls are formed by an underground stream that emerges just long enough for its 110 ft. drop, then disappears into another cave at the bottom of the sink it flows into. It’s some kind of geological phenomenon. There’s also a short trail to get to the top of the falls where you can see the cave where the stream comes from.
You should also check out Sheep Cave and the little waterfall that goes along with it. (Please note that all the caves are closed due to White Nose Syndrome. So, please don’t actually enter the caves.)
There are also plenty (four) of backcountry sites which make it a perfect trip for beginner backpackers. So, if you are looking to get in to backpacking and want a really great payoff, this is your trail. The sites range from being beside a waterfall to on top of a bluff, so there’s a lot of choose from. I’ve personally never camped here (all my hikes here have been day hikes), but I think the one atop Martha’s Pretty Point has the best views! Keep in mind that there is no water at this site, though. So, make sure to filter from Big Laurel Creek before you ascend up there.
The sneaky part about this trail is that the way in is a steady downhill, which you really don’t notice until you are on your way back and those miles are a steady uphill. Going in, I barely got my heart rate above a walk, which tricks you into forgetting that this trail goes steadily downhill a majority of the way in. But, you’ll get a nice workout on the way out. Commence much sweating on my part. I definitely felt my quads gain a few inches of muscle (and consequently my jeans fit a little tighter).
Be especially cautious of snakes in the spring and summer months. This area tends to have a lot of rattlesnakes. (It’s not like they are slithering all over everywhere or anything, but I always like to know what I’m walking into!)
On your way out, make the drive to Welch’s Point, just down the road. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset, if you’re so inclined!
Virgin Falls isn’t exactly a secret or anything, but it truly is a must-see on the Cumberland Plateau. Just be prepared for a long day hike or stay for a moderate overnight backpack.
Length of Trail: ~10 miles including the trail to Martha’s Pretty Point, allow 5-6 hours
Camping: 4 different backcountry sites at varying points along the trail: Cable Crossing, Martha’s Pretty Point, Caney Fork and Virgin Falls. Martha’s Pretty Point and Virgin Falls are the most popular.
Overview: Multiple waterfalls, gorgeous overlook and a cumulative climb of 1100′.
Edward’s and Signal Points serve as the southern terminus to the Cumberland Trail and are part of the Tennessee River Gorge Segment of the trail.
I originally planned to hike Signal Point to Edward’s Point. But, that trailhead was closed. So, thankfully, there was another trailhead for a similar route right down the road, Rainbow Falls Wilderness. The parking lot for the trailhead is pretty small, so if you are hiking from this point, I suggest arriving early.
I thought this was going to be an easy hike to a beautiful view. The view was amazing but I wouldn’t rate it as ‘easy’. A portion of the trail was pretty rocky and full of boulders so be prepare your ankles. I also am glad that I brought my trekking poles because there were a few sections of ascents and descents.
Before you reach the pinnacle of the trail, Edward’s Point, you’ll pass by a small “waterfall” that is actually a small dam that created Rainbow Lake. This lake was created in the early 1900s for Signal Mountain Hotel. So, this hiking trail has been around for over 100 years.
You’ll also cross a suspension bridge over Middle Creek and see a small rock arch called Lockhart Arch. So, you get a few different features on the way.
Edward’s Point boasts a beautiful, sweeping view of the Tennessee River Gorge. There are gradual bluffs on both sides of the river that level out so that you can see far into the distance.
It was rather hot when I hiked this trail, so that contributed to me sweating way more than anticipated. Because of this, I had a less-than-desirable impression of this hike. I’m sure it would be much better in the fall/winter. (I mean, what hike ISN’T better in the fall/winter?) I’m hoping to return when the weather is cooler and hike from Signal Point to Edward’s Point.
However, this hike shouldn’t be missed. You get a gorgeous view and a few bonuses on the way there. Plus, you get to hike a section of the Cumberland Trail, which is always a welcome part of any of my hikes.
Distance from Nashville: 2 hr 15 min
Trailhead: Rainbow Lake Wilderness Trail on Ohio Ave (at the time I hiked this, Signal Mountain was closed and gated)
Campsites: Lockhart’s Arch Campsite (Please note there is no overnight parking at either trailhead.)
Overview: Take a moderately strenuous hike to a beautiful view of the Tennessee River Gorge passing by a dam waterfall, stone arch and suspension bridge at the southern terminus of the Cumberland Trail.
Somehow I’ve never been to Pickett State Park and, wow, have I been missing out.
Like a lil sis to Big South Fork, Pickett CCC Memorial State Park is part of the Upper Cumberland Plateau region. She has within her sections of the Sheltowee Trace NRT and (one of) the John Muir Trail. She is a stunner, let me tell you! Sometimes I’m hesitant to drive 2.5 hours to a trail I’ve never been to that I really don’t see a ton about. But, I am over the moon that I didn’t bail on this loop.
This area was initially developed by the CCC, hence the ‘CCC Memorial’ part of the state park name. Because of this, there is a CCC Museum on the premises.
Actually, Hidden Passage has a “hidden” surprise around almost every bend of the trail. It’s such a wildly diverse trail and it will keep you enthralled the entire time. There’s so many rock houses, around 8 total and each one is stunning and somehow looks different from each other. There’s creeks, waterfalls, ridgetop views, parts of the trail that are open and feel above the treeline and also kind of look like the southwest.
The actual Hidden Passage is less than a mile, a beautiful, small stone arch. Right before this geological feature, you’ll find Crystal Falls, , which is a beautiful double tiered fall.
After passing these two highlights, you’ll meander along the “top” of a gorge that have both tree-lined and open parts that make you feel like you’re somewhere else far beyond Tennessee. And, don’t forget about the multiple rock houses. You’ll see these dispersed throughout the trail. The first one is right near the beginning of the trail, which also happens to be the largest. Some of them have mini waterfalls coming over them and some are covered with Cumberland Sandwort. (Delicate plant found ONLY in shaded rock houses on the Cumberland Plateau in NE Tennessee and SE Kentucky! Please stay on the trails and boardwalks to protect these fragile guys!) Another feature that is dispersed throughout the trail are rhododendrons, which I always think of as a ‘Smoky Mountain’ thing but they are all over the Cumberland Plateau too.
There is an option to add on the Double Falls trail, which will increase the total mileage by about 1.5 miles. I attempted this trail, but it had just rained and the trail was partially covered by a rushing creek and I didn’t particularly want to have soaking wet feet for the rest of the hike. (Also, I didn’t bring extra socks. Rookie mistake!) I made it a little more than halfway, then turned around. There’s also a nice campsite down this trail as well with water readily available from this creek.
If you’re not up for the full loop, you can do a 1.5 mile out and back to Crystal Falls and see the “Hidden Passage” as well as a huge rock house. Then, you can also do a couple shorter trails in Pickett like the Natural Bridge and Rock House trails.
Pickett CCC Memorial State Park should be on everyone’s list, whether a brand new or seasoned hiker. There’s a variety of trails depending on what you’re up for and each showcases a unique part of this area.
Get on up to the part of the state. I know I spend a lot of time in the South Cumberland region but I’m excited to explore more of the northern part. There’s tons of amazing things in the area.
Quick note: there has been bear activity reported in this area. Please be as safe as possible and know how to handle wildlife encounters. I like to clap often, bang my trekking poles and shout “HEY BEAR” frequently to make my presence known. You can also get a bear bell for, like, $3 at REI!
Trail: Hidden Passage Trail
Length: ~ 8 miles (~ 10 miles if you do the Double Falls Trail)
Distance from Nashville: 2 hours 30 minutes
Trailhead: Hidden Passage Trailhead on Pickett Park Highway (State Rte 154)
Stinging Fork Falls is a wonderful hike to a beautiful waterfall on the Cumberland Plateau In the Stinging Fork gorge. It’s located in Caryville, TN, east of Crossville and is part of the Cumberland Trail State Park, where you can connect these falls to the Cumberland Trail. (When finished this trail will be over 300 miles across the entire Cumberland Plateau. I’ve done a few sections of this trail.)
While a hike to a waterfall is usually reward enough, it’s always great when the hike to the waterfall is just a beautiful and scenic. That’s what you get with the hike to Stinging Fork Falls, which is reminiscent of parts of Fiery Gizzard. You’ll find a mix of an oak and pine forest as you descend in the the gorge of Little Soak Creek.
This waterfall is also a unique shape, which doesn’t really remind me of any other waterfalls. The water cascades over a fan-shaped rock and then flows into a beautiful rock filled gorge. Oftentimes, I don’t find it very relaxing to sit by a waterfall because the water is typically way too loud and violent for it to be relaxing to me. But, this waterfall is a gentle cascade that lends itself to a peaceful setting to sit and stay awhile. (Bring your hammock!) Plus, it feels a bit tucked away and more private, which I absolutely love in a waterfall hike.
There’s a short side trail to an “overlook” called Indian Head Point. In the fall, many of the trees were blocking any view that there may have been. Perhaps in the winter, you can get a more sweeping view. It’s not a very long trail, so why not just check it out.
Like I mentioned above, the Cumberland Trail can also be accessed from the Stinging Fork Falls trail and you can make this a point-to-point hike from Stinging Fork Falls to Piney Falls! See more info here.
It’s a bit far to drive (about 2.5 hours from Nashville) for a just over-2-mile hike, but pairing it with other trails in the area makes for a wonderful day. Or it would be a great stop on your way to Knoxville or the Smokies.
Distance from Nashville: 2.5 hours
Trailhead: Shut-In Gap Road, about 5 miles east of Spring City, TN
Piney Falls is one of the many waterfalls on the Cumberland Plateau. It is near both Ozone Falls and Stinging Fork Falls east of Crossville. It’s a nice waterfall to visit because it combines a free falling waterfall with a mini cascade as it spills into a small pool.
Piney Falls is designated as a National Natural Landmark by the Department of the Interior. This recognition means that it is one of the “best remaining examples in the US of major biotic communities and geologic features.” (Source: TN Dept of Environment and Conservation)
Piney Falls lies within Piney Falls State Natural Area, which is a little off the beaten path. I only saw 1 other small group of people hiking. (But, it has been reported this has been much busier lately.) Contained within this natural area, there is Upper and Lower Piney Falls. I only made it to Upper Piney Falls because of the getting slightly lost. So, maybe you’ll make it to both parts of this fall!
The trail is relatively flat for most of the way (especially if you don’t lose the trail and have to haul it straight up the side of a steep hill bushwhacking the whole way…). The trail also leads up up to the top of the falls, where you cross the small creek that feeds the waterfall and see the water plunging below. There’s an area at the base of the falls where you can walk behind the falls to continue on the trail or go swimming when it’s warmer.
I may have a slightly negative view of these trails because, somehow, I got lost on the less than 3 miles of trails. (See my route at the bottom of this post.) This hike is a balloon loop, so I think I would suggest going left at the fork. It may be easier to follow from that way. From the maps I saw/had, there’s 2 loops that almost make a figure 8. I didn’t really see how this worked out, but again, I did lose the trail. It did seem to be better marked from the clockwise way (going left at the fork). But, I suggest keeping your eyes up and looking for the blazes.
Overall, it’s a nice waterfall with a slightly boring hike to get there. Is it my favorite waterfall and hike? No. But, if you are in the area, why not check it out!
Distance from Nashville: 2 hours
Trailhead: Piney Falls Trailhead on Firetower Rd in Grandview, TN
Sometimes if a trailhead is over 2 hours away, I casually put off hiking that trail. I convince myself that I won’t be able to drive 4+ hours round trip and also hike multiple miles. But, when you have a hiking pal, you stop putting those farther away hikes off.
I’m willing to bet that if you live in Tennessee and have hiked with some regularity, you’ve seen the view from Snooper’s Rock in Prentice Cooper State Forest. But, this area is so much more than just that overlook.
The Pot Point Loop is just shy of 12 miles. It’s moderately long but the terrain isn’t too strenuous. There’s technically three overlooks on the trail – Raccoon Mountain, Snooper’s Rock, and Ransom Hollow – but the Raccoon Mountain one is surrounded by trees therefore rendering it not-so-much-of-an-overlook when leaves are on the trees. I’ve already mentioned Snooper’s Rock, which is the most popular and it’s a great view, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Ransom Hollow Overlook. Sure, it could have been the magic of golden hour, but, wow, this view of Nickajack Lake is not one to be missed.
In addition to these views, you’ll find a natural rock bridge, multiple creeks and streams, a campsite and “boulder gardens”. We didn’t see a single soul on the trail, except for a few voices we heard at Snooper’s Rock. I’m not quite sure why this trail isn’t more popular, especially being so close to Chattanooga (~ 10 miles from downtown). It’s also part of the Tennessee River Gorge Segment of the Cumberland Trail. While, the loop isn’t technically part of the CT, it’s connected to the southern terminus.
For whatever reason, I was very confused as to where the Pot Point trailhead was. (There’s literally a parking icon on the map via Cumberland Trails Conference.) It’s right near Snooper’s Rock, but I thought “Surely this trail doesn’t start right at one of the overlooks!”, so I decided that the trailhead was the Trail Kiosk at Tower Dr. However, about four tenths of a mile before reaching the kiosk, the road was closed so that ‘nesting turkeys’ weren’t disturbed. (This area is closed in parts of the spring for turkey hunting, so make sure you check the Prentice Cooper State Forest website if you are planning on hiking in the spring.) So, we just pulled over and parked on the side of the road, and hiked down the road to the kiosk. But, I am SO GLAD we did because we caught the beautiful views at Ransom Hollow at sunset.
I highly recommend this loop in Prentice Cooper. I would make sure you have a good 6-7 hours to hike because you’ll want to stop and enjoy the views.
Distance from Nashville: 2hr 30min
Trailhead: Snooper’s Rock Trailhead on Tower Drive (or unofficially the park-on-the-side-of-the-road at the Trail Kiosk farther south on Tower Dr)
Trail: Pot Point Loop (see my route below)
Link to trail map/info: Pot Point Loop via Cumberland Trails Conference
Length of hike: ~12 miles
Brief overview: Stunning overlooks of the Tennessee River/Nickajack Lake, natural rock bridge, huge boulders and forest and creek walking. Must do if you want a beautiful, challenging hike.
I always get a little nervous doing a hike in an area that I am unfamiliar with. It didn’t help that I couldn’t find much about this specific trail on other hiking sites. If I am being completely honest, I almost bailed on the drive there. My hiking confidence is very low; I haven’t done a new hike in almost two years. Right before I left for the hike, I found a card for a free year of a GPS service through GAIA, which was the confidence boost I needed to feel like I could tackle this hike. (Although, I did forget to end the route on the GPS when I finished hiking, so it tracked my entire drive back to Nashville. COOL.)
This trail is part of the still-in-progress Cumberland Trail. When finished, this trail will run from the TN-VA border to the TN-GA border traversing across the best of the Cumberland Plateau. Right now, you can hike sections of the trail. (I’ve also hiked the Mullens Cove Loop in the Tennessee River Gorge Segment.)
I pulled into the trailhead (just a paved pull-off on the highway), laced up my boots, and started off on what I thought was the hike. (It wasn’t.) The trailhead and section that I wanted to hike was on the other side of the road. However, walking up to the trailhead sign, all I saw was a barbed wire fence. Surely, this was not the beginning of the trail. So I set off in the opposite direction. But, looking at my map, I knew I wasn’t going the right way. So, I turned back around and just climbed over the barbed wire fence and only snagged my pants twice. (On the way back out, I realized there was a trail to the far right of the trailhead sign – see below. -__- Yeah, I’m rusty.)
So, don’t make the mistake I did! Start on the right trail and don’t hop a barbed wire fence!
This hike was a good challenge with a great payoff. The trail is relatively easy to follow; keep your eyes up for the white blazes. You will wander through wooded areas, see Windlass cave, pass by huge boulders and switch back up Black Mountain. It’s hardly a ‘mountain’ at 2828 feet, but it’s still got a killer view into Grassy Cove. On really clear days, you can see the Smoky Mountains in the distance. There’s also a backcountry site about 3 miles in, if you wanted to hike in and stay the night.
This trail is 3.6 miles one way from the trailhead to the Black Mountain Loop Trail. But, you’ll want to add on just a little bit more to see the sweeping views. So, you’ll end up doing more than 7.2 miles if you go to the overlook, which is basically the whole reason for the hike. I ended up doing about 9 miles, but about a mile of that was when I wandering around trying to find the correct trailhead at the beginning. I was also being pulled along by a dog that seems to love hiking more that I do, so my pace was probably faster than it should have been. (I completed the hike in about 3.5 hours.) Since you are climbing a small mountain, you will gain elevation – about 1300 feet – but the good news is that this hike is an out-and-back hike, so half of the hike is downhill.
The Black Mountain Loop Trail is a 1.5 mile loop, which is also accessible from another trailhead/parking at the top. So, you could just do the shorter, flat loop and see the great view. But, if I am driving 2 hours to hike a trail, I am making it worth it. (For me, apparently that’s hiking 9 miles up a hill).
Once you reach the loop trail, I would suggest only seeing the south overlook if you don’t want to add on the whole loop. That’s where you will see the stunning views. The north overlook is a bummer because it’s just standing on top of a large rock and looking at trees that are blocking a (potentially great) view.
So, if you want a semi-challenging, less-crowded hike showcasing the best of the Crossville area, this trail is perfect.
Distance from Nashville: 2 hours
Trailhead: Brady Mountain Trailhead on TN-68 outside of Crossville, TN.
Trail: Black Mountain Trail (part of the Cumberland Trail) and Black Mountain Loop Trail (See my mistaken path south of the trailhead?)
Length of hike: 3.6 miles one way with the addition of part of the loop trail makes this come in just around 8 miles total (more if you do the entire loop trail around the summit), allow around 4-5 hours depending on pace
Type of hike: Out and back
Camping: Black Mountain Campsite about 3 miles from trailhead
Overview: Woods walkin’, elevation gains, a cave, and a great view make this hike a perfectly challenging day trip from Nashville.