Hike to the Falls at Cumberland Gap on the Historic Wilderness Road Trail

IMG_3799Looking for an easy-to-moderate hike that has something for everyone?  This is it!  You’ll experience:

  • hiking on the historic Wilderness Road Trail
  • a 15-minute walk from the parking lot to fantastic falls (any time of year)
  • beautiful mountain views
  • an historic iron furnace landmark
  • shopping, restaurants, bars
  • bike museum / bike trail
  • and a circular loop back to your car?

This route lets you explore part of the Wilderness Road Trail that follows the original route the pioneers took to cross the Cumberland Gap.  If you continue on the Wilderness Trail Road (bypassing the circular route), you’ll actually cross the “saddle” of the Cumberland Gap.

DIRECTIONS:  From Sharps Chapel, go N on 33, through Harrogate, TN.  Just before the tunnel into Middlesboro, take the exit to Cumberland Gap (Route 58 East).  Once on 58, we took the 2nd exit for Cumberland Gap, which takes you directly to the Cumberland Gap National Park facility with parking for the trail head to the Wilderness Road Trail and Boone Trail (which we will explore at another time).

The highlight of this hike, for us, was the waterfall.  The log bridge was so fun to walk over and the water was just beautiful — so powerful!  Its source came directly out of the mountain face above, from an underground source near the mouth of the cave that is run by the National Park Service (meet at the visitor center on the Kentucky side) to arrange for tours).  But don’t let that stop you from hiking up to the entrance, which is locked, and looking down to see the source for yourself.

Past the waterfall, continue on the Wilderness Road Trail until you come to the Tennessee Road trail, on your left.  This lets you circle around to the town of Cumberland Gap and eventually back to your car.  This trail is a short hike to the historic iron furnace landmark, at the trailhead near the parking lot on the edge of Cumberland Gap (the town).

Once in town, there is plenty to do.  I’ll leave this for you to explore on your own.  To get back to your car, go through town to the cute little Wedding Chapel and look up the road and you will see a massive wooden boardwalk.  Take that back to the parking lot where you started.

Jim and I enjoyed this hike immensely.  We added onto it by taking a side trip to Tri-State Peak (you’ll see the signs), which will definitely get your heart rates pumping.  There, we met a couple who had an interesting dog called a Rhodesian Ridgeback.  These animals were originally from South Africa and used to hunt lion!  You never know who or what you are going to run into on these hikes.  Life is an adventure.

Wilderness Trailhead at Cumberland Gap, TN Entrance to Wilderness Road Trail at Visitors Center at Cumberland Gap TN Bridge over Falls on Wilderness Road Trail at Cumberland Gap Historic National Park Tennessee Road Trailhead in Cumberland Gap, TN Iron Furnace in Cumberland Gap, TN Iron Furnace in Cumberland Gap, TN Quaint Street Sign in Cumberland Gap, TN Mill and Bed and Breakfast in Cumberland Gap, TN Entrance to Cave at Cumberland Gap, TN