THE GOOD FOLKS at Friends of the Cumberland Trail know that waiting for grants and other government aid is no way to break ground. Of course, they’ll still take donations, but they’re pioneering new ways to fund the Cumberland Trail, which will stretch 300 miles across the Volunteer State’s Smoky Mountains when completed. The volunteer organization founded Sandrock Recordings, a small record label, to sponsor local artists, as well as a radio show of the same name to celebrate the trail and the area’s history; all proceeds for both go directly to maintenance and trail-building projects for the Cumberland. To date, they’ve pulled in more than $10,000.
And showstopper that it is, the Cumberland deserves every record deal signed in its name: It passes big-view gorges, whitewater rivers, and hazy mountain vistas as it meanders from the Kentucky state line to Chattanooga. (Hop on the LaurelSnow section outside Dayton for the best bite-size piece.) But, it’s only half-done. Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park, the trail’s steward, needs volunteers to help with construction, specifically near Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and Grassy Cove Karst Area on the trail’s north end, as well as near Chickamauga Creek Gorge on the south end. The money is there— all that’s needed is you.
TRAILHEAD Cumberland in Laurel-Snow State Natural Area (35.5258, -85.0219) SEASON Yearround PERMIT None CONTACT friendsofthecumberlandtrail.org