This section of the Cumberland Trail is the southern portion of the Three Gorges Segment, a 30+ mile stretch with spectacular views, boulders and rock formations, and historic remnants of Tennessee coal-mining operations.
Diverse and lovely, this 4.9 mile section of the Cumberland Trail embodies much of what makes this trail system a pleasure to explore on a day hike, a run, or a weekend backpack.
What Makes It Great
From the Mowbray Pike trailhead, the trail descends to grassy power lines which offer an inspiring overlook of the valley. You’ll hear a waterfall, cross Mikel Branch, and meander through a boulder field. Keep an eye out for coal seams and evidence of old mining activity, including tailings, trenches, and old road beds. The hillside reveals an abundance of wildflowers for nearly seven months of the year.
There are a few rocky sections but aside from leaves on the trail, the path has mostly non-technical footing, allowing you to hike or run at an aggressive pace if you like. As you reach a footbridge over Little Soddy Creek, the trail enters the Little Soddy Historic Mining Area. Continue left across a soggy area and follow the blue blazes up to the Hotwater Road/Sluder Lane trailhead, or take the yellow-blazed historic loop you'll find across the bridge. This area is rich with dwarf crested iris and ferns in the spring and can be quite lush. After crossing another bridge to reach Hotwater Road, you’ll turn left and walk 200 feet to the parking lot at Sluder Lane.
Who is Going to Love It
Those who enjoy historical and geological features, as well as diverse plant life, will be happy on this trail. The going is relatively easy with some moderate climbs and descents.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The trailheads for this section are on Mowbray Pike and Hotwater Road, both a short drive up the mountain from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee. With two vehicles, it's easy to set up a shuttle for a one-way hike. For details, see cumberlandtrail.org.
There is no camping on this section of the Cumberland Trail; you'll need to hike further to the next section.