Upon leaving Levi Jackson State Park we had another short travel day of about 55 miles with the goal of making it to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. We left at our usual 10:30 a.m. departure time for shorter travel days and drove over on US 25E. Just before arriving at the park we drove through the Cumberland Gap Tunnel. This is a large tunnel totally suitable for trucks and big rigs so there was nothing to worry about. I had turned my propane off before departing and sure enough there was a sign reminding RV’ers to turn off their LP gas preceding the pull-out lane for those who may have forgotten to turn their LP off.
A little over an hour after we had left we pulled into the park and found a spot in the B row that had 50 amp electricity. The Wilderness Road Campground has 160 sites and about 1/4 of them have electric. None of the sites have water or sewer and none of them are reservable. They are all first come, first served but I had heard the campground is seldom if ever full and that was the case when we arrived.
After setting up and eating lunch we drove back through the tunnel over to the Visitors Center to pick up a trail brochure. Man the butterflies were super abundant on the Purple Coneflower! After watching the butterflies for a while we secured a map for our future hiking plans and then we drove up the winding road that led up to the Pinnacle Overlook. As we walked to the overlook we were reminded that we were walking from Kentucky into Virginia on the trail.
Along the trail to Pinnacle Overlook we found ourselves in some nice woods with some enormous boulders. At the overlook the panorama unveiled below was fabulous! We could see down to the historic town of Cumberland Gap, TN and across the mountains of three states: Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee.. Wow, what a view!
The next day we drove over to the town of Cumberland Gap, TN and found the Iron Furnace parking lot. This was the trailhead to hike the Tri-State Peak. This is the mountain where Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky all come together like the four corners region out west. Tri-State Peak is also the mountain the Cumberland Gap Tunnel runs through.
The Cumberland Gap is a low spot in the Appalachian Mountains that provided hundreds of thousands of pioneers a path to travel through as they headed west. It was by far the easiest path through the mountains and as a result there are many remnants of forts built to protect the pass from enemies.
The old Iron Furnace that is found at the beginning of the trail dates back to the the 1800’s. From the furnace the Tennessee Road Trail winds upward until it meets the Wilderness Road Trail which we followed. A steady climb up and we were at The Saddle of the Gap where we found a cool sign and I snapped a picture of Sharon with the sign. This gap was where many settlers once passed in the hope of a having a better life out west.
A little further along the trail we saw a monument marking the Daniel Boone Trail that we have hiked on before much further away. On up the slope we finally encountered the structure with monuments and plaques marking where each of the states meet: Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. After admiring our feat and stepping back and forth between the three states like children we walked a bit further up to the top of the mountain before heading back down.
It was about a three mile round trip hike back to the parking lot. We really enjoyed our stay at Cumberland Gap and for sure will stay here again when near this area. The campground was very nice with spacious concrete pads and picnic tables and had nice restroom/shower houses. Although we didn't see it, a young black bear traveled through one morning while we were there. We learned this from the extremely nice camp hosts who came by to warn us not to leave any food out. They showed us pictures of the bear and we had a nice chat about fulltiming as that is their future wish. There are numerous trails in the Cumberland Gap area and I would love to see it in the fall with the leaves changing!
Next we will drive a bit further east to get over to our next stop in Bristol Virginia…