Aid Stations and Cut Off
There are five aid stations. Since this is an out-and-back course, you will see four of these aid stations twice. There will be a variety of food and drink. In keeping with the environmentally-conscious design of the trail, we will be making efforts to minimize waste and there will be no cups at the aid stations - bring a water bottle or hydration pack! Unfortunately, we can’t make provisions for drop bags.
There is a strict 10.5-hour limit and cutoffs will be enforced. Runners must leave the aid stations before the cutoffs to be allowed to continue.
This is a remote area so it is extremely important that you understand the navigation landmarks and the trail description! The race route will be marked with flagging. While on the trail, from the trailhead at Bruce Gap Road to where the race route diverges from the trail near Greens Branch bridge, you can also follow the white blazes.
The race will start in Cove Lake State Park at the pool parking lot. It will follow paved greenway trail through the park, past the picnic area where you will finish, then cross Bruce Gap Road into the Cumberland Trail trailhead parking lot. Shortly past the parking lot, the trailhead access path goes through a wooden gate, and joins the Cumberland Trail at a kiosk on the other side. The race follows the trail here to the left!
Follow the old road a short distance to the I-75 Cove Creek overpass, cross under I-75, then bear right, and continue NW 0.5 miles to the 88-ft Cove Creek Bridge. After crossing the bridge, turn left, go a short distance and cross the paved road (old Hwy 63). Climb to the railroad tracks, turn right and follow the tracks 200 feet to a left turn up rock stairs into the woods. NOTE: This is an active railroad line - use caution and stay clear of the tracks closest to the woods until you are ready to cross up into the woods. The trail will then switchback uphill through woods to reach Adkins Branch Falls at mile 2.7.
Climb through a rock garden to a ridge top covered with mountain laurel and ending at Adkins Branch. Rock hop across the branch, climb a rock staircase, and come to the Royal Blue Road Aid Station at mile 3.0.
Now begins the climb up Cross Mountain. Leave the aid station and go straight ahead on the dirt road for 175 feet, then make a 90-degree right turn back into the woods, soon reaching a set of water bar steps and make a 90-degree right turn onto the old Royal Blue Cable railroad bed. You will see evidence of old coal mining activities in this area.
Follow the old rail bed for 0.3 mile and make a 90-degree left turn into the woods. After a series of switchbacks and steps, you will reach Duncan Falls at mile 4.7. Look for Panther Rock at the base of Duncan Falls. You will continue to climb up switchbacks to Overhang Rock at mile 4.9 and the Tennessee Coal Dunes (remnants of an old strip mine) at mile 5.0. The trail crosses a small stream and switchbacks up to a dirt road at mile 5.3. Just below the crest of Cross Mountain, the trail makes a right turn onto a dirt road at the Cross Mountain Aid Station (mile 5.5).
Leave the aid station by ascending a short rock staircase on the left to return to the trail. You have now climbed 1900’ and reached the highest elevation on the Cumberland Trail as you cross the 3,000’ elevation mark. The trail continues to wind along the ridge for another 0.4 mile, goes across the crest of Big Bruce Ridge and down through another rock garden. After descending a rock staircase, the trail makes a 90-degree right turn onto Mine #10 Road at the Montgomery Fork Aid Station (mile 7.1).
From the aid station, travel right up the gravel road 100 feet, and make a 90-degree left turn back down into the woods to negotiate another descent down a strip mine cut through dry woods towards Montgomery Fork. Pass the Montgomery Fork campsite side trail at mile 8.2.
Continue on down to the Montgomery Creek Bridge at mile 8.3. Continue across Montgomery Fork, climb a bit, and then turn right to begin paralleling Montgomery Fork until turning up and descending back down to the Spring Branch Bridge at mile 8.9.
Cross Spring Branch, ascend to the 1,700’ contour, and again parallel far-off Montgomery Fork, passing through another rock garden, to the Greens Branch Bridge at mile 10.8.
After crossing Greens Branch, you will ascend up through a short series of switchbacks to an ATV road. Take the ATV road to the left, uphill. After a short climb, you will see the trail turn off the ATV road to the right. This is where the race course diverges off the trail. Do not follow the trail to the right! Instead, continue following the ATV road uphill approximately 1 mile. Near the top of the hill, the ATV road will curve to the right and climb a short, steep rise to the junction with Mine Road #10 at the Greens Branch ATV Aid Station (mile 13.6).
From the aid station, there are three road options, so be sure you know which one to follow before leaving the aid station! Of the two downhill gravel road options, you will be taking the one to the right. After the downhill, the road climbs back up to an clear area with an elk feeding field in an old mine high-wall on the right side and logging on the left side. You may see trail blazes through the elk field because the Cumberland Trail passes through this field. However, stay on the road.
Continue along the dirt/gravel road. The road heads downhill again, around a mountaintop removal area that is also an elk feeding field. On the far side of the mountaintop removal, the Cumberland Trail will join the road from the right side. Continue on the road to the Turnaround Aid Station, shortly ahead on the gravel road (mile 15.6).
Return to the finish using the same route. Once back in Cove Lake State Park, the course finishes at the picnic area in front of Shelter #3.