Chattanooga, TN: North Chickamauga segment of Cumberland Trail

A perfect summer hike, this 7.5 mile in-and-back features a cool swimming hole at the halfway point in North Chickamauga Creek. Indian rock houses, wild blackberries, and remnants of the coal industry can be found along this trek.
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A perfect summer hike, this 7.5 mile in-and-back features a cool swimming hole at the halfway point in North Chickamauga Creek. Indian rock houses, wild blackberries, and remnants of the coal industry can be found along this trek.

This segment of the Cumberland Trail follows North Chickamauga Creek and was home to a coal mining operation at the turn of the 20th century. Numerous deep swimming holes along the trail make it very popular for locals.

From the trailhead, follow the creek along a gentle rise. Stay straight to take the Lower Loop of Hogskin Branch as the trail asends to follow along an old roadbed. Continue climbing until you reach a set of ladders that take you to a scenic overlook of the gorge below. The trail then picks up another old roadbed along the ridge where summer months gift the hiker with wild blackberries. Leave the road and bear hard left down a steep hill (500 feet in about half a mile) featuring a cable crossing and another ladder until you reach the deep swimming hole of North Chickamauga Creek. After a lunch and swim break, head back up the hill and retrace your steps back to the trailhead, but this time veer left and take the short Upper Loop of Hogskin Branch to again rejoin the main trail.

-Mapped by Kelly Stewart, Nashville Hiking Meetup

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 12.0

Waypoints

NOC001

Location: 35.237546, -85.234448

Trail begins at parking area.

NOC002

Location: 35.237553, -85.234403

Trailhead kiosk and map.

NOC003

Location: 35.240846, -85.236798

Trail follows the creek.

NOC004

Location: 35.24258, -85.23645

Trail turns right

NOC005

Location: 35.245856, -85.236492

Trail crosses Hogskin Branch, a feeder creek into North Chickamauga Creek.

NOC006

Location: 35.24653, -85.235532

Trail turns left and begins following an old mining road.

NOC007

Location: 35.251543, -85.240528

Remnants of coal tipple, a structure used to load coal onto railroad cars.

NOC008

Location: 35.251957, -85.240721

Trail begins switchbacks and ascent

NOC009

Location: 35.252503, -85.240935

Trail crosses stream.

NOC010

Location: 35.252332, -85.241663

Mine shaft.

NOC011

Location: 35.249795, -85.253648

Ladder #1 takes you to upper trail.

NOC012

Location: 35.250189, -85.253863

Scenic overlook.

NOC013

Location: 35.250302, -85.253477

Continue left by following the trail along an old roadbed.

NOC014

Location: 35.255977, -85.253957

One of the numerous stream crossings.

NOC015

Location: 35.261158, -85.25433

Stream crossing.

NOC016

Location: 35.264089, -85.254098

Trail takes sharp left off mining road and heads downhill. Be careful not to miss this turn, as it's only marked with stacked rock.

NOC017

Location: 35.264423, -85.254718

Cable-assisted creek crossing. Take care crossing in wet months.

NOC018

Location: 35.264161, -85.254811

Ladder #2 descends further into gorge.

NOC019

Location: 35.263182, -85.25753

Swimming hole and campsites. Take some time here relaxing and swimming before you turn back and retrace your steps up the hill.

NOC020

Location: 35.263947, -85.254228

After reaching the top of the hill again at the stacked stone, turn right and follow your route back toward the trailhead.

NOC021

Location: 35.246487, -85.235404

Continue straight this time to follow the Upper Loop of Hogskin Branch.

NOC022

Location: 35.242149, -85.235066

Turn right and head downhill back to the main trail.

NOC023

Location: 35.239315, -85.235513

Upper loop intersects with main trail. Turn left and retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Trailhead sign

Location: 35.238434, -85.233285

Trailhead kiosk and map

Location: 35.237417, -85.234401

Trail begins slow ascent

Location: 35.23896, -85.235281

Swimming hole

Location: 35.240502, -85.236547

The trail offers access to many swimming holes

Trail turns right

Location: 35.24271, -85.236268

Crossing Hogskin Branch

Location: 35.245689, -85.236332

Lower loop intersects main trail

Location: 35.246741, -85.23586

The lower loop of Hogskin Branch joins the main trail

Rocky cliffs

Location: 35.247582, -85.236161

Coal tipple remnants

Location: 35.251507, -85.240195

Remnants of a coal tipple, a structure used to load coal onto train cars.

Switchback climb

Location: 35.251957, -85.240721

Trail begins ascent along switchbacks line with rock.

Crossing stream

Location: 35.252503, -85.240935

Mine entrance

Location: 35.252332, -85.241663

From inside the mine

Location: 35.252523, -85.241954

Hiking along rocky cliffs

Location: 35.249124, -85.250301

Ladder #1

Location: 35.249795, -85.253648

Reach the upper part of the trail by this set of ladders.

Scenic overlook into the gorge

Location: 35.250189, -85.253648

Trail flattens out

Location: 35.251612, -85.253198

Trail follows an old roadbed.

Picking wild blackberries

Location: 35.254311, -85.253284

Summer months provide sweet, wild treats along the trail.

Stream crossing

Location: 35.255818, -85.25367

Timber Rattler

Location: 35.260688, -85.254829

Timber rattlesnake coiled under rocks.

Left turn

Location: 35.263982, -85.254228

Watch for this hard left turn only marked with stacked stone.

Cable crossing

Location: 35.264423, -85.254718

Ladder #2

Location: 35.264161, -85.254811

Second ladder helps the hiker further down into the gorge.

Bald eagle

Location: 35.263176, -85.258284

Bald eagle spotted while at the swimming hole.

Swimming hole

Location: 35.263176, -85.257146

Panorama of swimming hole on North Chickamauga Creek.

Turn right to head back to main trail

Location: 35.242079, -85.235195