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Cumberland Trail, Tennessee River Gorge Segment
Paul Rebmann and I spent most of the last week in October 2009 hiking and photographing the southern most segment of the Cumberland Trail known as the Tennessee River Gorge Segment. Much of the trail is in Prentice Cooper State Forest. We left a car at the Rainbow Lake parking area at Signal Mt. and shuttled to the parking lot on Tower Road near the Hemlock Branch campsite. Along the way we left a stash near where the trail crosses highway 27. After making camp at Hemlock Branch we hiked to the nearest overlooks; Mullen's Cove and Ransom Hollow. The next day we hiked to Poplar Springs visiting Snooper's Rock and Indian Rockhouse. Had to dig a small hole at Poplar Spring to collect water. The next day it rained before we broke camp and continued raining all day as we hiked to the Suck Creek campsite picking up our stash of food fuel and beverage along the way. We spent two nights beside Suck Creek which allowed us to dry out. Then it was up to the vandalized formation known as Mushroom Rock and on to the many overlooks on the way to Edward's Point and then by Lockhart's Arch. The final day we crossed Middle Creek and took the Rainbow Lake Trail back to the Rainbow Falls parking lot.


View Of The Tennessee River From Ransom Hollow Overlook
A hazy day. This overlook is a fairly large flat rock. The river looks tilted in this shot but it also looked tilted to us while we were at the overlook
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Acorns And Fallen Leaves On The Forest Floor
Chestnut Oak
Quercus prinus
(Species)
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Hemlock Branch Campsite Early Morning
The fire kicked itself up about six thirty. Seeing this I got up and tossed a few sticks on and this is what it looked like by six fifty. The ghost image of Paul is due to a 20 second exposure.
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Stream Below Hemlock Branch Campsite
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Paul Photographing Just Downstreem From Hemlock Branch Campsite
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Fern And Leaves
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View Upriver From Snooper's Rock
You can see why this area is sometimes called the "The Grand Canyon of Tennessee".
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Riverboat On The Tennessee River From Snooper's Rock
This is about the point where the river boat turns around and heads back.
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Paul Along The Trail
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Signs At Indian Rockhouse
The sign on the left was laying on the ground and had to be propped up for the photo. Other than that signage was very good on the west side of Suck Creek. There were signs like this at every intersection and overlook. On the east side there was no signage at all.
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Paul Ascends Steps In A Crevasse At Indian Rockhouse
These steps were not part of our route but are on a trail that connects to the trail head parking area and intersects the loop trail at the Indian Rockhouse.
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Bridge Over Sulphur Branch Between Indian Rockhouse And Poplar Springs
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Rock Formation In A Cliff Face
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Tooth Fungus Near Poplar Spring Campsite
Coral Tooth Fungus
Hericium coralloides
(Species)
This lovely fungus grows on dead trees and has short teeth (less than 1cm). This specimen was almost a large as a man's head and there were a couple of smaller ones near by on the same log.
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Suspension Bridge Over North Suck Creek During A Break In The Rain
This shot was taken during a short break in the rain.
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Damp Camp
It had been raining almost all day when we got to this campsite just at the base of the Suck Creek suspension bridge. Despite the rain we got a fire going with the hope of drying out but in the end we only got wetter. Fortunately we were planning on spending two nights at this area so we were able to dry out the next day.
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Conner Creek
Conner Creek enters North Suck Creek just north of the Suck Creek suspension bridge.
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Ginger With Autumn Leaves
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Suspension Bridge Over North Suck Creek
This suspension (swinging) bridge is 225 feet long. When the sun comes out and there is a slight breeze it makes a great place to dry out wet clothing and gear.
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Back Of Fallen Bigleaf Magnolia Leaf
Bigleaf Magnolia
Magnolia macrophylla
(Species)
These leaves of Bigleaf Magnolia are up to 30" long and that size and the light color of the underside makes them great for marking trip hazards around a campsite.
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Suck Creek Gorge
There are many views similar to this on along the part of the trail north of Edward's Point overlook.
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Lockhart's Arch
This small natural arch frames a scenic view.
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Camp Showing Overhanging Ledge
This is not an official campsite despite a well used fire ring. Paul and I were hiking separately and both missed the Lockhart's Arch campsite as there was no sign or other clear marking as to the location. There was a post along the trail about where the site was but it looked to have never had a sign on it. We both looked around that area but failed to find the site. It was an area that had burned at some point and was mostly dead trees and scrub and very near an ATV path so it did not look like a place a campsite would be located. Paul did see a structure but only latter did we learn that there is a shelter at the Lockhart's Arch campsite. It was almost full dark when we realized we were probably almost at the Middle Creek bridge. Too late by far to turn back.
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Falls Above Rainbow Lake
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Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel
Hamamelis virginiana
(Species)
Several Witch Hazel shrubs were blooming along the Rainbow Lake Trail.
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© 2008 Daniel W Reed
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