Beauty close to home: Cumberland Gap, Tennessee

Looking for autumn color at Pinnacle Overlook in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Looking for autumn color at Pinnacle Overlook in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

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.

Although the colors haven't turned brilliant yet, you can sense the beauty all around at Cumberland Gap from Pinnacle Overlook.

Although the colors haven’t turned brilliant yet, you can sense the beauty all around at Cumberland Gap from Pinnacle Overlook.

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park markerEstablished 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.

Even without the fall colors, the ridges and valleys are a sight to behold in the afternoon sunlight.

Even without the fall colors, the ridges and valleys are a sight to behold in the afternoon sunlight.

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.

Touches of fall color dotted the mountains at Cumberland Gap.

Touches of fall color dotted the mountains at Cumberland Gap.

Be sure to take the short, easy walk to Pinnacle Overlook and gaze across the landscape.

 

A spectacular view of the mountains from Pinnacle Overlook at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

A spectacular view of the mountains from Pinnacle Overlook at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Then look down at the little town of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, and out towards Middlesboro, Kentucky.

You can look down on the little town of Cumberland Gap from Pinnacle Overlook -- and then stay there overnight if you want to explore the area.

You can look down on the little town of Cumberland Gap where overnight lodging and restaurants are available for travelers to the area.

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.

View from Bean Station overlook on Tennessee's Highway 25E -- just a touch of color for now, but it's coming!

View from Bean Station overlook on Tennessee’s Highway 25E — just a touch of color for now, but it’s coming!

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 Parkhttp://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!

 

17 thoughts on “Beauty close to home: Cumberland Gap, Tennessee

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Wish we hadn’t been there right as the sun was staring us down at the peak. But most pics show the lovely landscape anyway. Wishin’ we could be there at the crack of dawn to see how morning unfolks, but that would take a lot of effort on our part!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      So very true. We have yet to see all of Tennessee. Probably never will. But we’re scratching away at it as we speak. Hoping to go back up north this week for color changes. Thanks for commenting.

  1. Touring NH

    Isn’t is funny how often we go in search of beauty in far away places but seldom visit our own backyards!? If you get the kinds of color we’ve been having this years, it will be incredible in a few weeks!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      I hope we’re as lucky as you are. We’re thinking of heading to W. Virginia. My husband’s never seen that state in October, so if we find spectacular color, you’re likely to see it on the blog!

  2. Curt Mekemson

    I would have liked to have been one of the explorers to come across this land. One of my ancestors was said to travel with Daniel Boone. Maybe I come by the desire genetically. Reminds me of the Blue Ridge Highway. –Curt

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