Thursday, December 29, 2016

Soddy Gorge

Had a small group today but it did not diminish the fun of hiking on Cumberland Trail. We hiked the southern end of Soddy Gorge segment which stretches between Mowbray Pike and Hotwater Road. This section of trail is in need of some chain saw maintenance. There are many trees on the trail, mostly in the Clemmons Point area.

Group photo in historic mining area

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Rock Creek With CHC

Cumberland Trail Volunteers accompanied Chattanooga Hiking Club on a 7.5 mile Rock Creek hike from Retro Hughes Road Trailhead to Lower Rock Creek Trailhead. We got lucky and caught a good day of weather after many rainy days and before the cold moves in.

Group photo at Lower Rock Creek Trailhead

After a long dry spell, Rock Creek is now flowing again.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Poplar Spring with HRTTA

Cumberland Trail Volunteers accompanied Highland Rim Chapter of Tennessee Trails on a Prentice Cooper State Forest hike, about half of which was on Cumberland Trail and the other half on jeep trails. We began at the main trailhead on Tower Drive and followed Poplar Spring Trail to Lawson Rock Overlook where we stopped for lunch. Our return trip was via Braddison Brow Road, Sulphur Branch Road, Lusk Point Road, and finally Tower Drive.

Group photo on Lawson Rock Overlook

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Wild Fire Aftermath

Our trail inspection after the Mowbray wildfire found that the SCC Trail from rock climber's parking lot down to Cumberland Trail suffered much damage, mostly from fire breaks cut by a bulldozer. The trail is not easy to follow. Someone not familiar with area might get lost trying to find their way down to Cumberland Trail.

We found that fire had burned down to Deep Creek on both sides of creek but Deep Creek Bridge suffered no damage. The fire also burned to Big Soddy Creek. Big Soddy Creek Bridge also survived intact.

After a short break at Big Soddy Bridge, we rock hopped down Big Soddy Creek to the Soddy Gulf property, then followed trail and roads back to vehicle. We've been talking about doing some rock hopping. Today might have been the last chance we'll have until next year since rain is in the forecast.

Don's photos

Group photo on Big Soddy Creek Bridge

Friday, November 25, 2016

Trail Construction

This crew of four spent a large majority of the day finding and retrieving rocks for step construction. Unfortunately there were no rocks at or above the work site so they had to be carried or rolled from far below. Since much of our time and energy went into moving rocks uphill, we didn't get as much trail built as expected but did complete a nice set of steps.

Don's photos

Group photo at work site

Saturday, November 12, 2016

McGill Creek with MTTA

Mother Nature provided excellent weather for our hike with Murfreesboro Chapter of Tennessee Trails. We hiked from Roaring Creek Trailhead to McGill Creek and back, a 4.5 mile round trip. Cumberland Trail Volunteers headed home afterwards but MTTA drove to Rock Creek for a hike around the loop. Hopefully sometime next year, if trail construction is complete, we can hike through to Downey View Road and not have to turn back at the creek.

Group photo along McGill Creek

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Soddy Gorge

We met at Soddy Gulf, then shuttled up to rock climber's parking area above Deep Creek where hike began. There was lots of smoke in the air. As we hiked down into Deep Creek Gorge, we could see dense smoke up the gorge so we knew fire was moving in our direction. Our hike included stops at Deep Creek which had no flow and a stop at Big Soddy Creek which had no flow. We removed trail obstructions along the way with a hand saw. At hike's end we went to retrieve the vehicle at rock climber's parking lot. It was extremely smoky; fire was getting close. Fire fighters were stationed at the parking area along with a bulldozer and excavator. A fire truck was stationed at the end of Old Hotwater Road. Looks like Deep Creek Gorge will be the victim of wild fire.

Group photo in middle of Big Soddy Creek

Fire truck ready to fight fire in Deep Creek area

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Graysville Mtn

We spent the day on Graysville Mountain hiking from Roaring Creek Trailhead to Gilbreath Creek and back, a 9 mile round trip. It took us much longer to hike to the creek than back because we encountered many trail obstructions. Fortunately we had our large hand saws and were able to remove all but 2 or 3 that will require a chain saw. The ones that will require a chain saw are laying on ground and easily stepped over so it might be best to let termites take care of them.

Enjoying view on Roaring Creek Overlook

Group photo along Gilbreath Creek

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

McGill Maintenance

Judy Varner, TC Varner, Jane Ellett, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins spent the morning on McGill Creek trail segment with hand saws, loppers, pruners, and weed-eaters. Our goal was to clear weeds near trailhead, where trail intersects Brayton Road on either side of Roaring Creek, and up the mountain where trail crosses Brayton Road but did much more than planned. We now have the trail in good shape for our hike with Sara Pollard's group on November 12.

Don's photos

Group photo along trail

Monday, October 17, 2016


We completed collecting description notes, GPS data, and length measurements on the trail along Hebbertsburg Road near Crab Orchard. Distance from yellow gate trailhead south to power lines is 13675 feet or 2.59 miles. That combined with our previous data adds up to 38425 feet or 7.28 miles of new trail along Hebbertsburg Road and Daddys Creek.

Don's photos

Group photo along trail

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rock Creek Maintenance

Jane, Carol, and I spent the morning at Rock Creek on the stretch of trail between upper trailhead and Boiling Spring Bridge where 5 blow-downs had the trail blocked, 4 of which were forcing hikers off trail to circumvent the obstructions.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Rock Creek Loop

The Up-Chuck trail runners have removed blow-downs from the lower half of Rock Creek Loop which is part of their race course but Bob, Carol, and I encountered 5 blow-downs on the upper loop. Fortunately they are all located in close proximity on the short section between upper trailhead and Boiling Spring Bridge. Four of them force hikers off trail. Their removal will require lots of chainsaw work. Anybody in the mood for some trail maintenance?

Break time on Rock Creek

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Today was part one of a two part mission to collect GPS data and a written description of the new Hebbertsburg trail along Daddys Creek. We began at the yellow gate trailhead on Hebbertsburg Road and hiked north to the Keys-Harrison WMA access road, a distance of 25750 feet or 4.87 miles. Our next trip will collect data from the yellow gate trailhead south to power lines.

Don's photos

Group photo in Wolf Den area

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Possum Gorge

We haven't done much hiking lately. Carol and I decided we needed some walking practice so off to Possum Gorge we went. Big Possum Creek has the least amount of water I believe I've ever seen and the trail is in need of some minor maintenance. Small trees and poison ivy are closing in on the first quarter mile from Heiss Mtn Road trailhead. Weed-eater and pruners would take care of that. There is also a little work for a chainsaw. I'll have to put that on my To-Do list.

Very little water in Big Possum Creek

Big log blocks entrance to bridge

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Wheel McGill Creek

Today's hike down the new trail to McGill Creek from Brayton Road served a double purpose. Mostly it was for the hike in perfect weather. It was so nice we spent the entire morning sitting along McGill Creek. We also had to collect map data by measuring the trail length. The distance from Brayton Road to McGill Creek bridge site is 6295 feet. The distance from Roaring Creek trailhead kiosk to Brayton Road is 5490 feet. Total distance of the newly constructed McGill Creek segment on north side of creek is 11785 feet or 2.23 miles.

Group photo along McGill Creek

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Paddle Chickamauga

Jerry McClanahan, Gary Buchanan, Patrick Lavin, and I paddled about 6 miles on Chickamauga Lake from lake access on upstream side of Sequoyah Nuclear Plant to Chester Frost Park. We were fortunate to have a little wind behind which helps with paddling but it wasn't sufficient to cool us off. Maybe October will provide some cooler weather for kayaking on the river.

Don's photos

Leaving launch site

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Thief Neck Island

Pat, Rosemary, Keith, Gary, Bob, and I made the approximate 6.5 mile round trip out to Thief Neck Island, around the island, and back to Winton Chapel Road boat ramp. Wind was calm and temperature was comfortable until the last mile. Keith was able to get some swimming practice along the way. His new paddle board threw him off at least three times.

Don's photos

Group photo on Thief Neck Island

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Road Walk

Carol and I had Prentice Cooper State Forest all to ourselves except for three Forest Service bulldozers working on roads. Fortunately they were moving to east side of Tower Drive as we started down Persimmon Branch Road on west side of Tower Drive. Our hike took us down Persimmon Branch Road, then Maple Branch Road followed by Short Creek Road, and finally back to Tower Drive for an approximate 4 mile round trip. We got an earlier start than originally planned which allowed us to enjoy some of the cooler morning air.

Coming up Maple Branch Road

Going up Maple Branch Road

Friday, August 26, 2016

Hiwassee Refuge

Bob, Carol, and I made a quick trip to Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge where we could walk on gravel roads, hopefully see some wildlife, and stay clear of chigger infested weeds. We didn't encounter any wildlife and hopefully we didn't pick up chiggers but we did learn it is still too hot to hike except early in the morning. I'm hoping for an early fall.

Group photo near inlet gate

Saturday, August 13, 2016

McGill Creek Trail

Bob, Caroline, Jane, Deborah, Lora, Carol, and I met at Roaring Creek Trailhead, then shuttled up to the Brayton Road crossing where we started our hike. We first hiked down to McGill Creek, took a long break at the creek, and then returned to Brayton Road. Instead of driving back to Roaring Creek we decided to leave the shuttle vehicle and hike down the trail since some had not seen this section. At hike's end and after retrieving the shuttle vehicle, a few drove over to the Downey View Trailhead.

Group photo at McGill Creek bridge site

Future site of Downey View Drive Trailhead

Monday, August 8, 2016

Downey View Drive

For those that might be interested in helping build McGill Creek Trail on south side of McGill Creek, here’s a map to location where work will soon begin.

click to enlarge

Monday, August 1, 2016

McGill Bridge Site

Carol and I hiked the new McGill Creek Trail down to the future site of McGill Creek Bridge and recorded a GPS track log of the trail to that point. We also took a few photos of the future bridge site, one of which is shown below. I've not wheeled this trail for an accurate length measurement but the track log indicates approximately 1.2 miles from Brayton Road to bridge site.

McGill Creek future bridge site

Saturday, July 30, 2016

McGill North Complete

Trail on north side of McGill Creek is complete except for some touch up work done today to improve drainage. Southern Trail Crew will begin work on south side of McGill Creek soon.

Changing slope of trail to improve drainage

Completed section

Saturday, July 16, 2016

McGill Creek Visit

Bob and I wanted to see the progress made by the Southern Trail Crew so we joined them for a few hours at their work site along McGill Creek. Of course we didn't do any work...too hot for us old timers but we did record a little video and took a few pictures. Video is on CTC facebook page.

Don's photos

Group photo on trail along McGill Creek

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Hike With Highland Rim

Jane, Bob, Carol, and Don accompanied Joan and Edith of Highland Rim TTA on a short 3.5 mile hike from main trailhead in Prentice Cooper to secondary trailhead near Snoopers Rock. I was expecting a very hot day on the trail but overcast skies and some light rain kept conditions near the comfort zone. Thanks to Joan for scheduling this event.

Don's photos

Group photo along the trail

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Paddle North Chick

Lora McBride, Judy Varner, TC Varner, and I had an unusual but fun day on the water. We launched our boats at the new North Chickamauga Creek WMA Canoe / Kayak Launch near Northgate and almost immediately had to get in the water and drag our crafts over or around one log jam after another. In the first one forth to one half mile we spent more time in the water or on the bank than we did in the boats but it made for a day to remember.

I took lots of pictures of which 33 are posted below. If you get to the Barred Owl photo, look closely and you can see there are two owls in the picture.

Don's photos

One of the first log jams we encountered

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Soddy Gorge with CHC

We hiked the third segment of Soddy Gorge Trail today which included the Board Camp Creek area from highway 111 to Soddy Gulf, approximately six miles. It was a little warm and humid but an excellent group from Chattanooga Hiking Club turned it into a fun day.

Don's photos

Taking a break along Soddy Gorge Trail

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Trail Maintenance

In preparation for tomorrow's hike, TC and I carried our weed eaters to the unofficial Cumberland Trail access point on highway 111 and cleared the section from highway back to the highway right-of-way fence. This short section of maybe 700 or 800 feet is thick with weeds and requires constant maintenance to prevent Mother Nature from reclaiming it. Hopefully we can hike through there tomorrow without getting covered with ticks and chiggers.

TC clearing trail

Trail looks much better

Trail looks much bettter

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hiwassee Refuge

Carol and I made an impromptu Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge trip to get a little exercise and play with some seldom used camera equipment. Not much wildlife stirring but we did walk upon a few deer in the corn fields so we did more hiking than photography.

If two is a group, this is a group photo at water inlet gate 

They were filling the western pond today

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Soddy Gorge with CHC

We never got an accurate count of hikers today but it was a big crowd. I heard two different numbers, 36 and 38. Logistics proved to be a little complicated trying to get most vehicles at rock climber's parking lot and all hikers at Little Soddy Trailhead. Fortunately Hotwater Road was closed which allowed us to park in the road while unloading hikers.

The trail from Sluder Lane to Hotwater Road crossing is choked with weeds and much of that is poison ivy. Where there are weeds, there are ticks. I didn't count but I'm sure I got about 15 off me before crossing Hotwater Road. It might be time to start road walks at Prentice Cooper and get out of the weeds.

Don's photos

This is as close to a group photo as I could get

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

McGill Creek Trail

I was anxious to see new trail presently under construction between Brayton Road and McGill Creek so Carol and I hiked down to where Shauna and James were working. They are building some excellent trail in a beautiful area. This McGill Creek segment has potential to be one of the most liked sections of the entire Cumberland Trail.

Shauna and James working their way to McGill Creek

Friday, June 3, 2016

Sale Creek

Bob DeHart, Gary Buchanan, and I spent the morning paddling in Sale Creek. Conditions were superb: cool, overcast, foggy, and calm plus we had it all to ourselves. We first paddled through the swamp area, then up Hodgetown Branch. In the past we have always encountered obstacles in Hodgetown Branch that stopped our progress but today we were able to travel upstream until it got too shallow. Our return trip was on the main Sale Creek channel. I'm ready for more paddling.

Don's photos

Gary's photos

Heading to swamp area

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Black Mountain

Patrick Lavin, Rosemary Hurayt, Caroline Woerner, Bob DeHart, Deborah Kimberlin, Jane Ellett, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins spent the morning on Black Mountain. We hiked from the top to highway 68 at a very casual pace and made many stops along the way to identify flowers and shoot the breeze. I expect this group will be back together real soon.

Don's photos

Group photo near Windless Cave

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hiwassee Refuge

Bob, Carol, and I took advantage of this cool day and spent the morning hiking gravel and dirt roads in Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. We didn't see much out of ordinary today except for one turtle that was digging a hole in one of the freshly planted corn fields. We guessed it was preparing to lay eggs.

Group photo near refuge boat ramp

Friday, May 6, 2016

Trail Maintenance

TC, Bob, and I made a quick trip to Rock Creek with chain saw to remove a large tree on the upper half of Rock Creek Loop. We had previously removed all smaller trees with a hand saw. Removing this last tree should have Rock Creek trail segment in good shape for awhile.

Time lapse video

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Soddy Gorge with CHC

Today's hike with Chattanooga Hiking Club began with our staging vehicles at Soddy Gulf, then shuttling to rock climber's parking lot where hike began. This relatively short four mile hike contained lots of rugged sections which made it fun for some and not so much fun for others. Hiking along the trail above Deep Creek, we encountered a copperhead laying across the trail but, unlike most snakes, this one didn't wait around for his picture to be taken. Maybe the next one will be a little more sociable.

Don's photos

Group photo along Soddy Gorge Trail

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Prentice Cooper

Today is the perfect example of why a Cumberland Trail maintenance database is needed. After driving to Prentice Cooper State Forest and hiking with chainsaw in hand to a reported blow down on Mullens Cove Loop, we found it had already been cut. Looks like the big one had been cut with an ax and a smaller one with handsaw. The day wasn't a total loss. Weather was perfect for hiking and the trail between Indian Rock House and Snoopers Rock is an extremely nice segment overlooking Tennessee River. I'm ready to do it again but without a chainsaw on my back.

Group photo along Mullens Cover Loop Trail

Monday, April 18, 2016

McGill Map Data

Today's short hike on the new McGill Creek Trail was devoted to collection of map data for the recently completed section between Roaring Creek Trailhead and Brayton Road crossing. We measured length of trail with a measuring wheel and recorded GPS track logs. Total distance from Roaring Creek Trailhead kiosk to rock steps at Brayton Road crossing is 5490 feet or 1.04 miles.

Don's photos

Group photo at Roaring Creek Trailhead

Friday, April 8, 2016

Rock Creek Loop

Bob DeHart, Gary Buchanan, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins took a short maintenance hike around Rock Creek Loop. We were able to remove all trail obstructions except one which will require a chain saw. It's on our "To-Do" list.

Don's photos

Group photo on Rock Creek

Friday, April 1, 2016

BreakAway 2016 Day 17

Yesterday (day 16) was rained out except for about 1.5 hours of trash pickup before rain began. Today (the last day of BreakAway) we resumed the trash pickup in a dump site through which the trail is routed. After running out of trash bags, we moved across Brayton Road and began trail construction there but encountered more trash. The amount of garbage along Brayton Road is overwhelming. Sadly most of it will probably never be removed.

Don's photos

Picking up trash

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

BreakAway 2016 Day 15

Forward progress seemed to have slowed today. Every swing of the mattock hit a root or stump that had to be removed. While most were removing roots and duff, others were involved in major rock work. I'm hoping we encounter better ground as we approach the Brayton Road crossing.

Don's photos

Shauna loves this work