Cumberland Trail Possum Creek Section - Backpacking/Camping

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The Possum Creek section of the Cumberland Trail is an excellent 10-mile route, offering everything from steep difficult terrain to a peaceful stroll along the creek. While it's great for hikers and advanced trail runners, this trail also offers the perfect opportunity for a short overnighter.

Written by

Rodger Ling


10.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

19.6 miles


3 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 days

A few hours to a few days.


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits




The 10 mile Possum Creek section of the Cumberland Trail offers diverse terrain that will challenge and reward you. The scenery is  beautiful and diverse, with cascading streams, ferns, wildflowers, rhododendron tunnels, towering rock bluffs, and of course the spectacular Imodium Falls.  Good in any season, the trail is especially rewarding in the Fall when the leaves reach their peak.

What Makes It Great

From the Heiss Mountain trailhead near Highway 111, the trail starts off dramatically. In the first 4 miles, you will experience over 1,000 feet of elevation change, tall bluffs, and two major gorges. On the second descent after a steep set of switchbacks, there is a campsite to the left of the trail not far from the bridge over Possum Creek. Stack Rock, a handsome sandstone outcrop, is less than half a mile past the bridge with beautiful views of Little Possum Creek. A mile later, after traversing an old mining area, another steep descent through rhododendron brings you to the graceful Imodium Falls.

From here, the trail eases as it follows the creek in an area lush with evergreens.  After the up and downs of the lower gorges, the 4.5 miles to the Retro Hughes trailhead will feel like a stroll down easy street. Starting from the north at Retro Hughes Road and heading south is is an easier route to Imodium Falls, without the steep descents and climbs. The trail begins in the pines and drops into a mixed forest with hemlock groves and meadows alongside the creek. About a quick two miles you'll cross a shallow creek (be prepared for wet feet), and a half mile later you'll find a campsite on the right.

Who is Going to Love It

Hikers can start at either end and go as far as they like; with a shuttle, a thru-hike will be a long but grand adventure.  Trail runners should be prepared for elevation change and frequent technical footing; with the exception of the northern end, this is not a place for beginners.  Backpackers may love this trail the most, as they'll be able to take their time appreciating the ever-changing scenery.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The southern trailhead is located on Heiss Mountain Road off Jones Gap Road. From Chattanooga, take US-27 to TN-111 up the mountain, then exit on Jones Gap Road, taking a right. Take another right on to Heiss Mountain Road. You will see the trailhead a half mile down on the left.   

The northern trailhead is located on Retro-Hughes Road. From Chattanooga, stay on US-27 past Soddy towards Sale Creek. Take a left on Retro-Hughes Road at the stop light and continue on that road for about 7 miles, watching for the trailhead on the right. See for details, including maps.

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Possum Creek Section - Cumberland Trail

Heiss Mountain Road
Soddy Daisy, TN, 37379
35.345862, -85.175049

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