Land, Culture, & History

of the Cumberland Trail

History of the Park

Established in 1998, Cumberland Trail State Park became Tennessee’s 53rd state park, and the largest state park in Tennessee with 33,500 acres. It is Tennessee’s first linear park, cutting through 11 Tennessee counties.

The Cumberland Trail follows a line of pristine high ridges and deep gorges lying along the eastern escarpment of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau. Once completed, the hiking trail will extend over 300 miles from the Cumberland Gap to Lookout Mountain.


The Friends of the Cumberland Trail, a 501(c)(3), and other volunteers worked to solicit public and private donations for the acquisition of additional land along the trail. Currently, we have completed 208.9 miles of trail, another 20.89 miles of trail are built but not yet open, and another 11.28 miles of the trail is under construction.

We are now working towards to completing the last 61.02 of proposed trail.  Will you help us?

Sandrock Recordings

Sandrock Recordings

Friends of the Cumberland Trail has our own recording label where we seek to preserve the sounds of the Cumberland Trail region.

The idea of a hiking trail tracing the eastern escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau first emerged in the 1960s. Inspired by the success of the Appalachian Trail and the passage of the 1968 National Trails System Act, Mack Pritchard, who was the naturalist for the Division of State Parks, spearheaded the effort for the creation of the Cumberland Trail. In a series of meetings in the late 1960s, Prichard outlined 2,237 miles system of trails, and the proposed the Cumberland Trail was selected by the newly formed Tennessee Trails Association as a pilot project to demonstrate the feasibility of the state trails system. 

Over the next few years, several people working with the Tennessee Trail Association (TTA) and the Cumberland Trail Conference (CTC) to attain property and building trails. In the 1970s, TTA was instrumental in crafting legislation for Tennessee Trail System Act on 1971 and creating the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail. Other administrative names have since been attached to the endeavor—Cumberland State Scenic Trail, Cumberland Trail State Park, and Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park.

We have documented more than 100,000 hours of volunteer trail labor in the past six years resulting in almost 302 miles of the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail system. CTC will continue its focus on trail building and trail maintenance, while the Friends group will devote its efforts towards supporting park needs in the areas of natural resource inventory and management, historical research, cultural resource inventory, and management, promotion, equipment needs, visitor center development and special events.

Responsibility for land acquisition lies with Bob Fulcher, CTSST Park Manager. The CTSST currently owns 33,500 acres, making it the largest Tennessee State Park.   The Friends group will continue to play a key role in fund raising and developing community relationships to further land acquisition efforts.

Land, Culture, and History (content in development)

-Geology-Learn More

-Native Americans-Learn More

-Cumberland Plateau Folklore-Learn More

-History along the Cumberland Trail-Learn More

-Outreach and Education-Learn More