Monday, March 6, 2017

Denny Cove - a new hiking destination in the South Cumberland State Recreation Area

Climbers and hikers will soon have access to a new wilderness area south of Foster Falls in Marion County Tennessee.  Access Fund and Southeastern Climbers Coalition recently announced the acquisition of 685 acres at Denny Cove.  These two organizations worked in partnership with South Cumberland State Park to bring about the preservation of this wild and undeveloped tract.  The preservation of Denny Cove, with its scenic views and critical plant and wildlife habitat, is an important component of ongoing conservation efforts in the region. The Fiery Gizzard, of which Denny Cove is a part, is identified as having at least 20 rare plant and animal species.

Access to the trail is almost directly across from the Sequatchie Fire Station, roughly 7 miles north of Jasper, TN on Hwy 41.  It is 34 miles (37 min) NW of Chattanooga.

Coming from Tracy City on Hwy 41, access is about 1.5 miles south of Foster Falls.  Our house is 9.5 miles north of Foster Falls (8.0 miles as the crow flies) or 11 miles north of the Denny Cove access road.  It is about 100 miles (1 hr 50 min) SE of the Nashville Int'l Airport.

Local climbers exploring Denny Cove a few years ago discovered it had great potential for climbing, with about 150 climbing routes available on nearly 3 miles of cliffs. For the average hiker, there are a number of scenic overlooks on or near the main trail that make the hike well worth the effort. The main trail, less than two miles long, will ultimately take hikers to a 70-foot waterfall at Denny Cove.

Work is currently underway at the site to improve the access road & parking lot and build trails (actually improve the already-existing trails, for the most part). For now, the only way to obtain access is to volunteer for workdays, which take place every 1st and 3rd Saturday. Volunteers spend four to five hours doing trail work, then have the rest of the day to explore. The public won’t be allowed open access until the trails are completed.  Hopefully, the trail will be completed by this fall.

I had the opportunity to work as a volunteer on the Denny Cove trail on Saturday, Feb 17.  This was an exhilarating experience for me.  As part of the group that did trail building on that date was an entire scout troop.  It quickly dawned on me that this trail building activity is the very essence of scouting, certainly an activity in step with the scouting mission. I plan to bring the young men in our church unit to this activity at some future Saturday.

 While there, I met a new friend for the first time, Gary Stephens, from Huntsville, AL.  We had a lot in common, and took an instant liking to each other.  Gary took a few pictures of me working on the trail, friended me on Facebook, and hence, gave me access to photos he had taken on this and previous weekends, working on the trail.  The 2nd & 3rd images in this blog entry are credited to him.  For more Denny Cove trail photos go to Gary's Facebook page and go to the Feb 4 entry.

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