Established in 1986, Mousetail Landing is a relative newcomer to the Tennessee State Parks scene. The site of the modern-day park on the eastern bank of the Tennessee River was once the site of a bustling village during the late 19th century. Local folklore has it that a tannery in the village caught fire, causing hundreds of mice to flee the burning building—hence the park’s contemporary name, Mousetail Landing. The remnants of a pier, blacksmith shop, and cemetery from the Civil War era remain today. The park maintains more than 20 miles of hiking and running trails, as well as beginner and advanced mountain bike trails and a primitive campground.
What Makes It Great
Mousetail Landing has several hiking and mountain biking trails, but the highlight is its eight-mile Eagle Point Trail. The lollipop-loop trail is primarily used for backpacking and has two overnight shelters, but its difficulty and distance make for an excellent trail run.
The trail begins by following an unimproved road and crossing Kelly Creek, but within a mile, the climbing begins in earnest. Head up and over Sparks Ridge, then across Parrish Creek. Two miles from the trailhead, you’ll hit the loop portion of the trail, which meanders for four miles through dense cedar forest. The northern and easternmost portions of the loop follow the banks of the Tennessee River. Run the loop counter-clockwise to save the best view of the river, from Shelter #2, for the end of your run. The well-maintained trail has few natural obstacles and is marked at regular intervals by blue blazes on the cedar trees. Finish the loop and pick up the pace for the descent from Sparks Ridge back to the trailhead, or take a quick detour (0.1 mile) to the Parrish Cemetery.
For a shorter run, try the three-mile Scenic Trail for beautiful views of the park.
Who is Going to Love It
The Eagle Point Trail is long and technical enough that it’s best suited to at least intermediate trail runners, though it could make a challenging-but-fun intro for newer runners who don’t mind taking a few walk breaks. Since it’s a loop, there aren’t many bailout options; runners looking for a shorter workout can take on the three-mile Scenic Trail.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Linden, head west on Highway 100 (also called Highway 412 and Highway 20). Follow this road for just over 11 miles to Highway 438 (the turn is before the highway crosses the river). Head north on Highway 438 for a little less than three miles until you get to a sign for the park entrance. The trailhead for the Eagle Point Trail is on the right, adjacent to the playground.
Overnight guests should register at the park office, just past the trailhead.