Updated but still working on pics & review…
Ever since I first experienced Edward’s Point, I wanted to camp there to experience a sunset, the stars & moon, and a sunrise. When news of the “Super Moon” happening, I decided I was going to enjoy the full moon from Edward’s Point.
I’ve hiked to all the ‘major views’ of the Tennessee River Gorge segment of the Cumberland Trail via dayhikes when I first got started hiking last fall. But I wanted to connect them all and do it backpacking… I’ve done several solo one-night backpacking trips, and decided I wanted to step it up to a 2-nighter. The terrain isn’t challenging, the trails are well-blazed, and it offers a lot of interesting views along the trail.
One of the challenges was figuring out a route that would take me back to my car. Signal Point (the start of the Cumberland Trail) does not allow overnight parking. There is parking at Rainbow Lake, but I wasn’t sure about overnight parking. Prentice Cooper allows overnight parking, but I wasn’t thrilled about hiking all the way back and safety of my vehicle there for several nights. Since I knew Shackleford Ridge’s parking area is regularly visited by Signal Mountain police (see my run-in with the law), I decided to park there.
“Trail Central” at Shackleford Ridge offers a variety of different trails that access Rainbow Lake, Mushroom Rock and Edward’s Point. I decided to take the “Pink” trail to Mushroom Rock, and then take Cumberland Trail to Edward’s Point (approx. 6 miles). (I have never done this section before) and then hike to Rainbow Lake to camp night 2 (also never done this route before). I have had issues with my Garmin Dakota 20 down/uploading route info, and ended up using coordinates to help guide me. You can download detailed route and maps here: http://goo.gl/xMHKh
I wasn’t sure about water sources until I reached Rainbow Lake, so I had my 2L Platypus, and 48oz of Powerade which would get me to Rainbow Lake on day 2. (After hiking with 8 liters of water in my backpack prior to water filter days… this was a piece of cake.)
The Pink Trail was easy enough. Had to dodge several large muddy water spots.(Made me hopeful of water accessibility ahead).The trail is a bit confusing with several spurs, so I recommend a compass to ensure you stay on correct track.Mushroom Rock is really impressive… Unfortunately, some people enjoy tagging it, so last time, it had been freshly sandblasted.Then I headed to Edward’s Point. I was heading downhill, thinking “I’m glad I won’t be climbing up this hill with all this weight on the way back”. I’m looking at my gps track and comparing it to the map… The track heading to Edward’s Point heads south, but so does the track to Prentice Cooper. Fortunately, I realized about ½ mile in that I was going the wrong way. So I had to hike back up that hill with my full pack. (Groan) And I accidentally deleted my track so far (Double Groan). Pic below is the WRONG direction!!!
I crossed numerous streams. Most were dry. Some had some water. If you download my track, I’ve noted which ones had some water, which ones did not so that you’ll gauge your own water sources. I am glad I filtered/filled up my empty 48oz Nalgene, because it was the last water source I crossed before Edward’s. (There was a somewhat reliable water source about ½ mile ahead on trail.)
The trail has some rocky spots, offers occasional peeks of the river gorge, and the amazing rock structures.
I was under the tree canopy for the majority of the trail, until I reached the ridgeline where the evidence of the April 2012 tornado completely wiped out the trees.All the trees have been cut on the trail, except this one.Too low to crawl under with a pack, ended up getting cut going over/between branches. There were also a few throughout trail that were easily ‘straddled’ over. It got really hot – every breeze was better than buying a pair of comfortable stilettos on sale. Keep that in mind – hat, sunscreen, or don’t hike it in afternoon sun like I did.
As I was approaching Edward’s Point, I noticed a spur trail that led to an area that looked like a great camping spot. (I even marked the waypoint that way).I continued on to the actual Edward’s Point. Enjoyed the view, looked around for possible campsite. Unfortunately, there is a jeep road that leads to Edward’s Point and many locals come there to drink – tons of trash, broken glass. Very disappointing. I was somewhat concerned about a lot of people having similar idea to camp there for the “Super Moon”, so I decided to backtrack away from the actual point to find where to set up camp after I put my shoes back on.
And my hunch was right on! Just 2 overlooks away, the spur trail led to a wonderful little spot with 2 stone benches, a fire ring (WITH wood!) and a nice area for a couple of tents. I did a happy dance.This is the view Southeast – of Tennessee River and Chattanooga.
There is plenty of potential campfire wood, just bring a handsaw… Pay attention to several sinkholes near campsite.There’s a path heading down to a little overlook and a few other views:
The sunset was lovely, although several trees blocked my view.
Enjoyed the Super Full Moon from my campsite.There were quite a few rowdy kids on ATV’s and dirt bikes making lots of noise on the actual Edward’s Point until 2am. I really wanted to take pics from there, but since I was alone, I decided to stick to my own space.
Got up early to enjoy the sunrise, packed up my gear and headed out.This is from Edward’s Point, looking at the wooded overlook I was camped on.The texture of the rock, showing water wear and old rebarb in it reminded me how long it’s been hereThis is a view with my back to the overlook – the trail picks up to the right, straight ahead is the Jeep Trail (I traveled that later…)If I had a hammock, the overlook beyond Edward’s Point would have been even “awesomer” to camp at (no flat area for a tent).I noticed the remains of an old stone fence and a rock outcropping near a water source. This area was frequented by Native Americans and integral during the Civil War… I’m always curious of the surroundings. Not sure what these old rusted things were for:
Saw some pawprints I need to research:
Various views along the trail (only a little more than a mile from Edward’s Point to Rainbow Lake) It was evident with the first almost dry stream crossing, that when there is a heavy rain, this spot is powerful.
Then on to Lockhart’s Arch.
I was paying attention to this area, because I got lost last fall when I was hiking from Rainbow Lake to Edward’s Point (the path wasn’t completely cleared). There were a few sections where you had to really look for blazes – some are on rocks, some are haphazardly placed. (I marked where to keep an eye out as waypoints).The photos of this stone structure do not do it justice. It is HUGE. If I wasn’t alone, I would have dumped my pack and started exploring more. The boulders below are bigger than large SUV’s.There is a campsite at Lockhart’s Arch with a fire ring.Water is just down below at the creek. Keep an eye out for Copperheads here.
Then down to the creek. There’s a nice suspension bridge here.I was amazed at how low the water levels were!
October 2011There are three campsites in the Rainbow Lake area. Primitive camping here is free. Obviously, there is water here. For a campfire, there is plenty of downed wood around, a handsaw would be handy. Campsite one is right by (very noisy) swing bridge in open area where the Cumberland Trail intersects the Bee Branch Trail.
The second is a few hundred feet upstream (my preference) because of nice flat ground and sounds of water going over dam in background. The “Bee Branch” trail passes right by this area, but people can only walk by one side of site.
The third site is upstream of Rainbow Lake. It is definitely more private, but it is very buggy and surrounded by standing water (sorta smelly). The stream bed was dry-ish, but after heavy rain, may be a bit more challenging.
I followed a path beyond the 3rd campsite to discover these rusted rebarb remains. Wonder what it went to? It got really muddy, so I decided not to venture further with my pack on. I noticed some cut off rebarb in the rock – and the view across the lake…
In the late 1800’s – early 1900’s, this area was a resort – there are various remnants of previous structures around related to Signal Mountain Inn and Golf Course.
I found some old photos from the area in the preview of this book on Amazon: http://goo.gl/M1nGj I hung out for a while on top of Rainbow Lake Dam – noticing the rat snake, the rope swing, and the various paw prints…
More to come… and I’ll update with gpx & kml files