We have hiked our longest hike to date, 5.75 miles. This was purely by accident, thanks to some poorly marked trails.
Here was our original plan: Start out at Shackleford Ridge Park, in Signal Mountain, and catch a trail that would take us to Mushroom Rock. From the rock, we would take the Cumberland Trail down to the Suck Creek suspension bridge. Once at the bridge, we would turn around and come back the way we came. This was supposed to be maybe a four mile hike at most.
We should have known that we would get lost, because there are few maps with the trail from Shackleford Ridge to Mushroom Rock. We could not use our Google Maps GPS to make sure we were staying on the correct trail. Once at Mushroom Rock, it is labeled more clearly.
I tried to read up as much as I could on the trail, and took a screen shot of the one map I did find, which in the end got us more lost than anything, I think. The issue is that there are multiple trails and unmarked paths that cross. Which one to take? We did not know.
We ended up walking about a mile, including backtracking a few times, before we got on the right trail. However, we did see some nice things along the way, and we got plenty of extra exercise in, so we’re not really complaining. When we saw that first sign for Mushroom Rock, we were relieved!
Mushroom Rock is a really neat formation. I had seen pictures of it, but it’s still impressive when seeing it in person for the first time.
From there we had to jump on the Cumberland Trail, where we got lost again! We were on the Cumberland Trail, but we quickly realized we were going in the opposite direction that we wanted. Thankfully a nice couple passing by pointed us in the right direction. We had gone to the left, but we had wanted to go right, behind the rock.
From there to the Suck Creek Suspension bridge, it is a switch back trail that heads down into the gorge.
We stopped at a large suspension bridge, that we had all to ourselves. Just before the bridge, there is a primitive hike-in camping site, with a few fire pits and benches made out of logs. We both decided we would love to camp here. It would definitely be easier since we know now the right way to go!
The hike back up the gorge was tiring! We had to stop many times to catch our breath. Once past Mushroom Rock, we got lost again! It was the same issue as last time, too many intersections with too many crossed paths. But we will remember for next time! We were thankful to get back to the car and rest our legs!