Cumberland County Hiking Guide
If you are new to the area or just interested in exploring all of the wonderful hiking trails Cumberland County has to offer, please take one of these hiking guides to help get you started.
Get out and explore!
If you have been hiking a while then this information may be a repeat of what you already know. For those beginners out there it is important that you have a good idea of what you need to get started if you are going to be hiking trails. We have a hiking checklist of things that you should have in order to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.
There are over 60 miles of hiking trails in Cumberland County. Throughout this guide we will break down the location of the trails for your convenience.
Walking & Hiking Trails
23 Miles of Trails
Amherst Nature Trail
This is a 2.0 mile grassy road hiking trail located between St. George and Sherwood Lakes. This is an easy trail with very little change in elevation. Although most of the trail is on grassy roads there are some sections of paved road. There is limited parking just off St. George Drive on Castlebar Lane. Because the trees along the trail are so young it cannot be “blazed” in the conventional way of nailing small colored rectangles to tree trunks. Instead, small painted marker posts are used. Junctions and corners are marked with more substantial posts with directional arrow markers.
Canyon Nature Trail
The Canyon Trail is a 1.4 mile woodland hiking trail in Fairfield North. It is recommended to park in the water tower parking lot. The trail is generally downhill from the water tower to the North Catoosa parking lot. There is one steady uphill climb around the midpoint. The trail passes through the “Catoosa Canyon” which is a collection of large rock formations.
Central Nature Trails
The Central Trail is a network of paved walking trails. It is a mixture of delightful trails meandering through woods, alongside streams and more. There are multiple access points to this network, most of which have ample parking.
Glastowbury Nature Trail
This 1.0 mile trail offers some nice views across the lake but most of the trail offers some nice views across the lake but most of the trail is a woodland walk. We recommend hiking in a counter-clockwise direction.
From St. George Drive take Manchester Road then turn left onto Lafayette Lane. Just before entering the condo complex, turn right onto Hunterwood Lane. Turn left to the boat-launch and park at the trailhead.
Good Samaritan Nature Trail
This is quite an easy one-mile hiking trail located in Fairfield North, close to the Good Samaritan assisted living facility.
Hemlock Nature Trail
This 1.5 mile trail starts from the old boat launch on Lake Dartmoor at Rotherham Drive and travels along a lovely valley filled with Mountain Laurels. The route of this hiking trail follows the creek up the valley to a steep sided bowl at the head of the valley. The trail leaves the valley by following Rotherham Lane and completes the route on the other side of Rotherham Drive by traversing the hillside up to Catoosa Boulevard. The route passes a magnificent hemlock tree which gives the route its name.
Kirkstone Nature Trail
This is approximately a 2.0 mile loop hiking trail along gravel roads. The trailhead is at the junction of Marmaduke and Christopher, a little ways up the hill from the spillway on Lake Kirkstone. The route is marked with yellow stakes and arrows at road junctions.
McGinnis Nature Trail
This nature trail is a 1.8 mile moderate trail with significant elevation changes.
Overlook Nature Trail
The Overlook Nature Trail is a beautiful hiking trail in the southern part of Fairfield Glade. Allow 1 to 1.5 hours of walking time to complete this trail; that is not including stops to rest or enjoy the scenery. The trail descends steeply from the Overlook to Daddy’s Creek and follows it for about a mile before climbing steadily back up to the original level and returning to the Overlook along grassy roads.
Rotherham Nature Trail
The Rotherham Nature Trail is a 1.1 mile moderate trail. The lower section of this trail is an easy half-mile hiking trail along a creek. The upper section is more strenuous so hiking in the downhill direction is recommended!
Seven Bridges Nature Trail
The trail is a 2.0 mile easy hike with interesting rock formations and seven bridges built by volunteers. It is a “lollipop” configuration. You will hike in on the half-mile “stem”, hike around a one-mile loop and then return to the parking area on the half-mile “stem” once more.
Stonehenge Nature Trail
The 1.5 mile Stonehenge Trail is connected to the Central Trail network of paved trails. It starts at the corner of Stonehenge Drive and Kingsboro Drive. It heads north in the woods alongside Stonehenge Drive all the way to the Heatherhurst Golf Club parking lot.
Thornhill Nature Trail
This is a fairly flat loop hiking trail, approximately 1.8 miles along grassy and gravel roads. The trailhead is in the parking lot of the Dorchester Golf Club where there is ample parking, a snack bar and restrooms. To begin your hike there is a short “bridge” over a ditch providing easy access from the parking lot to cross Westchester Drive to Thornhill Road and then follow the yellow stakes and arrows at road junctions along the route. There are three benches at various points for you to rest and enjoy your surroundings. A short walk onto the dam, using the stepping stones to cross the spillway if necessary. Retrace your steps across the spillway and rejoin the trail to follow the marker posts back to the parking lot.
45 miles of trails when completed
Daddy’s Creek Section
The day hiker can cover the entire trail from Southern terminus to Northern terminus in about 6 hours of casual walking with a couple of rest breaks and a lunch break. However, shorter in-and-out trips offer equally rewarding experiences.
Since parking is limited at both Northern and Southern termini, hikers may choose to begin at the yellow gate parking area. Recognizing that choice, this guide describes the trail in its entirety from South to North and includes a description of the section from the Yellow Gate parking area to the Southern terminus in a North to South direction at the end.
Obed Wild & Scenic River Segment
This section of the Cumberland Trail is rated difficult due to the many climbs in and out of Daddy's Creek and Obed River Gorges. Because of the many rock steps along the section, the trail was given the name “trail of a thousand steps” by a group of spring BreakAway™ students who worked on the trail. Highlights include views from overlooks, rock formations, and swimming holes.
Approximately six additional miles of the Cumberland Trail are under construction as of 2016 on the west side of Daddys Creek from Devil’s Breakfast Table heading south to Peavine Road.
Cumberland Mountain State Park Trails
15 miles of trails
Byrd Creek Trail - 2.00 Miles - Easy to Moderate - This trail follows along the banks of Byrd Creek for the entirety of the hike. At approximately one and a half miles hikers will come to the red and yellow junction. From here you should follow the red trail back to the CCC dam, then walk across the dam back to the park office where you started. This trail provides hikers with a unique tree top canopy of hemlock trees in several sections. Through these sections you will notice less vegetation on the forest floor and cooler temperatures in these areas. Hikers will also cross a small creek that is home to a very unique bridge that was built by an eagle scout.
Byrd Lake Trail - 0.50 Miles - Easy - This is the shortest hike on the park and is ADA accessible. The flexible porous pavement is ideal for wheelchairs, walkers and strollers. The trail winds around Byrd Lake to our footbridge at the boat dock. This trail is great for viewing waterfowl and songbirds.
Cumberland Plateau Nature Trail - 0.85 Miles - Easy to Moderate - This trail showcases a variety of wildflowers throughout the year. It is one of the most easily accessible trails to view the pink lady’s slipper in the late spring. This trail takes hikers through dense forest on the upper section of trail and loops around to follow the creek on the lower section of trail. The trail completes the loop with a very picturesque view of the backside of the CCC Dam and Mill House Lodge.
Pioneer Short Loop Trail - 1.80 Miles - Easy - This is the most frequently hiked trail in our park. The trail follows along the banks of Byrd Lake to our famous swinging bridge and loops back around to our footbridge at the boat dock. Along the trail,you will see a small rock overlook we call picnic rock. Stop here and enjoy the view. Hikers will pass through several sections of trail where mountain laurel and rhododendron create a pathway along the trail. The long section of rock steps that hikers will go up and down are original steps put in by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Overnight Trail - 5.95 Miles - Moderate to Difficult - This trail is accessed by hiking the Bryd Creek Trail to the blue and yellow junction. From here the overnight trail begins; a six mile loop trai