Set aside in 1976, Cave Mountain Small Wild Area is among many locations along the Tennessee River preserved by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Recently revitalized, the trail offers a 1.2- mile adventure that sits minutes from Lake Guntersville Dam. An easy to moderate stroll through upland deciduous forests, you're going to love the fantastic wildflower displays and views of both Wheeler Lake and a Tupelo Gum swamp. While you're there, take in some history along the way and explore the namesake cave.
What Makes It Great
Follow the singletrack trail through a quiet, serene mixed pine forest that quickly changes to a karst landscape with a multitude of wildflowers and sinkholes. At the only trail junction, kept straight and descend into a power line cut, humming with butterflies. The brush can be thick here, but wild blackberries in summer make it worth your trouble. As the trail narrows, you'll find yourself seated between a fast rising bluff and a Tupelo Gum swamp below. Keep a lookout for the Indian marker tree, and the cave, mined by the Long Hollow Nitre works for saltpeter during the Civil War.
Sitting slightly uphill on your right, the cave makes a great reprieve on a hot summer day. Feel free to explore, but be aware of a dangerous vertical drop a few hundred yards in. In late fall, you'll have the chance to collect your own luck charms, buckeye seeds, and view the migrating waterfowl that call the area home in the colder months. As the trail rounds the other side of the mountain, you'll ascend quickly, with brief views of the Guntersville Dam, best viewed in winter. On the ridgeline, the forest changes character again to upland hardwood, offering nice views north and east over the swamp and the Tennessee River itself.Watch your footing as you meander downhill through some rocky traverse, and turn left at the junction to return to the trailhead. But don't leave before you scope out some bald eagles nesting at the Guntersville Dam, just minutes away. It's a fantastic spot to have a lunch post hike and get your fishing game on.
Who is Going to Love It
With its easy to moderate grade, it makes a perfect Saturday morning hike or late weekday afternoon excursion. Great for beginners and novices, and for family outings, kids will love the wildflowers and lizards abound. Trail runners and mountain bikers may prefer the longer, rugged Cooley Cemetery Trail across the road.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Gate is open 6am-10pm, no overnight vehicles. Day Use only, no permit required. Open to hiking, mountain biking. Equestrians may park here and use the Cooley Cemetery trail across the road. Camping is not allowed. Pet friendly. Please practice Leave No Trace.
Directions: Take Highway 231 south for 19.5 miles, turning left on Union Grove Road. Go approximately 13 miles, and turn left on Snow Point Road. There is a small parking area on the left side of the road, past the gate.