The Mountain Goat Trail is a rail-to-trail project in Franklin and Grundy Counties on the Cumberland Plateau. In April 2015, a new section was opened, allowing cyclists and walkers to enjoy a 5-mile stretch of smooth asphalt connecting Sewanee and Monteagle. In between, the Trail follows the old railbed through wooded areas, past homes and businesses, and across picturesque bridges. The paved trail has a minimal grade, making it perfect for anyone who likes to ride for fun.
What Makes It Great
The Cumberland Plateau is steeped in history, from the coal-mining era that began in the 1850s to the founding of the University of the South in Sewanee. Its geology and natural beauty have also drawn settlers and visitors here for over 160 years. Thanks to an enterprising Eagle Scout, you can learn about the area while enjoying the Mountain Goat Trail.
In 2013, Forrest Pilkington, for his Eagle project, installed four posts with QR codes along the trail, and furnished different information for each, covering the history, geology, wildflowers, and animal species of the South Cumberland Plateau.
There are plenty of other things to do before or after you hit the trail. The university town of Sewanee has four restaurants and a fully-equipped bike shop in the downtown area, and a coffee shop on campus. The Monteagle end offers hotels, grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.
The beautiful Gothic architecture of the University of the South, the historic downtown area of Tracy City, and the famous Fiery Gizzard Trail and Foster Falls State Park are all within easy driving distance of the trail.
Who is Going to Love It
This is a leisurely cycling route, with road crossings, bridges, and sharp turns that slow your speed. As a relatively new trail, the Mountain Goat is still without much infrastructure — no trailhead signs, maps, or restrooms. This gives it a neighborhood feel, and the people you’ll see walking and biking are likely to be locals. Be sure to smile and wave!
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The access point for the Mountain Goat Trail in downtown Sewanee is on the corner of Hawkins Lane and Highway 41A. Parking is free of charge. If you’re beginning in Monteagle, we recommend parking at Mountain Outfitters, and crossing the Dollar General parking area to the beginning of the trail. (Tip: Mountain Outfitters is a great place for deals on outdoor clothing and gear.) Dogs are welcome on the Trail if leashed. Remember trail etiquette: pedestrians have right of way and you should always announce yourself and pass on the left.
The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance is a nonprofit organization working to complete the entire 40-mile trail, retracing the railroad’s route from Cowan to Palmer. For more information, visit mountaingoattrail.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.