It's 2.9-miles from Signal Point to Edward's Point along the Cumberland Trail. As an out-and-back, it's 5.8-miles.
Destination Distance From Downtown
3 of 5 diamonds
At just under 6 miles, the trail is moderately difficult in terms of distance. There are also a couple of somewhat strenuous climbs in and out of Middle Creek Gorge, which will get your quads burning and your heart pumping.
Time To Complete
At a 3-miles-per-hour pace (slightly on the quicker side of average), it will take roughly two hours to complete this hike.
The beauty, the challenges, and the many possibilities for further exploration on this spectacular eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau make this trip more than worth your time. If you are new to trail running, plan to run the less technical sections and hike the technical ones. If you are experienced on the trails, you will enjoy the mental and physical demands of this scenic path.
What Makes It Great
This 2.9 mile (one way) route begins at Signal Point, where you'll find a panoramic view of the Tennessee River, with Williams Island and Chattanooga in the distance. An elaborate wooden staircase, dubbed “the mousetrap,” descends around 200 feet. Less than a half mile down the trail, as the Middle Creek Gorge opens in front of you, is the magnificently exposed Julia Falls Overlook. The Tennessee River Gorge beckons even more grandly here, with the buttresses of Edwards Point and 95 foot Julia Falls visible on the far side of Middle Creek.
From the overlook, the trail is technical and requires that you pay attention to your footing. The trail is surrounded by lush hardwood forest, a variety of shrubs, and many blooming plants. The beauty is distracting, so take your time. In a half mile you may be able to hear and perhaps glimpse Rainbow Falls far below. There is no safe access down to the falls, so continue and turn left below the large boulder. You should be able to hear Middle Creek and shortly see the 100 foot wooden suspension bridge. Once across, follow the trail upstream, then take the left switchback.
The trail continues to be rocky as you pass cliff walls to your right and Lockhart’s Arch to the left. Once you are back on the top of the bluff, the footing becomes easier as you cross creeks and catch glimpses of the river gorge. Before long, you will reach Edward's Point for truly breathtaking views of the river below. Drink some water, have a snack, and then make your way back to Signal Point. If you time it just right, you could be at the Point at sunset.
Who is Going to Love It
Hikers ready for a strenuous six mile trip will delight in this adventure. Sections of this trail, especially near Edwards Point, are popular with trail runners, but there's no shame in walking the more technical sections on the Signal Point side.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To reach Signal Point, take a left off Signal Mountain Boulevard just as it reaches the top of the mountain, then follow the signs.
This National Park Service area has restrooms, but is open only during daylight hours. Don't let your car be locked inside the gate.
For more information see the Cumberland Trail website. Stay on the marked path and keep a close eye on children near the many steep slopes and cliffs.