How It All Began
The idea of a hiking trail tracing the eastern escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau first emerged in the 1960s, and the nonprofit Tennessee Trails Association (TTA) was formed in 1968. TTA was instrumental in crafting legislation for the Tennessee Trail Systems Act of 1971 and the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail (CTSST) was created. From its genesis, the project developed through a partnership between the State of Tennessee and TTA. Other administrative names have since been attached to the endeavor—Cumberland State Scenic Trail, Cumberland Trail State Park, and Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park. The Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail is a cooperative effort between various State agencies such as the Division of Tennessee State Parks, TDEC Recreation Educational Services, TDEC Natural Heritage Program, the Department of Tourism, TDOT, TWRA, and the Cumberland Trail Conference (CTC) of the Tennessee Trails Association. The CTC has documented more than 85,000 hours of volunteer trail labor in the past six years resulting in almost 150 miles of the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail system. CTC will continue its focus on trail building and trail maintenance, while the Friends group will devote its efforts towards supporting park needs in the areas of natural resource inventory and management, historical research, cultural resource inventory and management, promotion, equipment needs, visitor center development and special events.
Responsibility for land acquisition lies with Bob Fulcher, CTSST Park Manager. The CTSST currently owns 6,355 acres in fee simple and has easements on 907 acres, making it the 7th largest Tennessee State Park. The Friends group will certainly play a key role in fund raising and developing community relationships to further land acquisition efforts.
The Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail is managed by the State Park system with five park rangers and three offices to cover the 300+-mile trail corridor. Additional rangers will be phased into the program over the next few years.