Edward’s Point :: Cumberland Trail, Tennessee River Gorge Segment

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.

The view worth hiking for

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)

Trail: Rainbow Lake Trail to Cumberland Trail

Link to trial map: Signal & Edwards Points Section of Cumberland Trail

Length of trail: 4.7 miles total, out-and-back

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.

Pot Point Loop :: Prentice Cooper State Forest

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.

Ransom Hollow Overlook on the Pot Point Loop (Can you believe?!)

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.

A gentlest little rainbow over a small creek
Raccoon Mountain Overlook
Natural bridge
Creek meandering through the trees
Heart shaped boulder
Snooper’s Rock
Beginning of golden hour
One happy pup
And one more of this view because I can’t get enough

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.

Black Mountain Trail :: Grassy Cove Segment, Cumberland Trail

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.)

Cumberland Trail Marker

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!

Trail starts right by that tree with the orange flag, across the highway from where you park.

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.

South Overlook on Black Mountain

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.

Windlass Cave
House-sized boulders
Thread the needle through the rocks up to the Black Mountain Loop Trail
Fall colors finally peeking through
The best hiking bud

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?)

Link to trail map: Black Mountain Section (Also includes more detailed info about the hike.)

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.