Sometimes we travel near and far in search of adventures and great places to see, but actually there’s grand beauty in East Tennessee that we sometimes take for granted. Thus it was on a recent weekend that we headed north about 60 miles from Knoxville to Cumberland Gap for a glimpse of what we hoped would be a spectacular fall view.
Established as a National Historical Park in 1940, Cumberland Gap stands at the entrance to three states: Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. Although it’s known as the gateway to the west — especially by the explorers who welcomed the site of a passageway through the Appalachians — Cumberland Gap National Historical Park could be called wilderness even today since 14,000 of its 24,000 acres are managed as such.
Our trip was “pre-fallish,” if we were seeking lush, rich autumn colors. But definitely no disappointment. Perhaps those who read this post and see the pictures will be able to schedule a trip for later in October when a patchwork of yellows, oranges, and browns will spread out over the ridges and valleys.
Be sure to take the short, easy walk to Pinnacle Overlook and gaze across the landscape.
Then look down at the little town of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, and out towards Middlesboro, Kentucky.
And enjoy the flora and fauna bordered by aging split rail fences along the walkways.
On the return trip to Knoxville, take Highway 25E toward Bean Station where you’ll be rewarded with this view — spectacular with or without fall colors.
We returned home, thankful that we’d spent the day in our home state yet wondering why we don’t do it more often. After all, the natural beauty of East Tennessee is hard to beat!
Come see us,
Bert and Rusha
For more information:
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park: http://www.nps.gov/cuga/index.htm
Driving Directions: http://www.nps.gov/cuga/planyourvisit/directions.htm
Boomer Travel tip: Much of the scenic area known generally as Cumberland Gap can be seen by car. However, the walk to Pinnacle Overlook is an easy one, so we recommend getting out and walking the 600 feet to the viewing area. You’ll be glad you did!