Known as “The Beast of the East,” the StumpJump 50K and 11 Mile races
take place on Walden’s Ridge just outside of Chattanooga. The trail races begin at Signal Mountain High School. The 50K route takes runners around the gravel trails in Shackleford Ridge Park before descending on ATV roads to meet up with the Cumberland Trail at Mushroom Rock. Runners then descend sharply into Suck Creek Gorge, cross the suspension bridge and begin climbing out of the gully up to a nice, fairly level plateau. After this section, they tackle a wicked steep descent to Suck Creek Road and AS 1.
Head across the road, up the stairs and onto some great singletrack to Indian Rockhouse -- complete with rock steps, metal steps and plenty of Tennessee mountain stone to hold your attention. Rockhouse is AS 2 and begins the 10-mile Mullens Cove Loop section.
The next few miles take runners across small creeks and rock formations before reaching Snooper's Rock, the home of AS 3 and the best view of the Tennessee River Gorge on the entire course. There's a slight climb to Tower Road, followed by a downhill to Hemlock Branch water crossing. A twisting and winding section is next, with several small water crossings as you pass Mullens Cove Overlook heading for Haley Road and AS 4. From there, it's up the cove as you head toward Short Creek and traverse the Rock Garden. Finally, climb back up to Mullens Cove Loop parking area and AS 5. Head downhill back to Rockhouse and return to the school.
The 11 Mile Race exits the park and uses a series of singletrack trails and ATV roads to traverse a densely forested area until arriving at Edward’s Point, for one of the best views of the Tennessee River Gorge, hands-down. It makes a right turn onto the Cumberland Trail, leading five miles further to Mushroom Rock. From there, runners follow the ATV roads and gravel paths back to the finish at Signal Mountain High School.
The trails around the school are well-maintained, but hikers and runners may encounter trail blockages and overgrowth on the Cumberland Trail. Also familiarize yourself with hunting dates in Prentice Cooper WMA
. There are several primitive campsites along the way if you'd like to make an overnighter out of it!
What You'll Brag About
How you ran effortlessly, feeling as if you could go on forever--at least for a while. Whether you complete the 11-miler (a great trail run in its own right) or confirm your ultra-runner status by finishing the full 50k Stumpjump, crossing that finish line is a memory you will long cherish.
Who is Going to Love It
Anyone capable of a half-marathon can enjoy the 11-mile loop with its moderate terrain and fantastic scenery. Ultra-runners or road marathoners wanting to try a long trail race will delight in the 50k. If you've done a marathon on the pavement, you might find that the 50k course, while slower than a road race, is more enjoyable and often less stressful on your body.