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  1. #1
    Senior Member cneill13's Avatar
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    Trip Report - Mullen's Cove Loop - Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Thanks to this forum, I found a new trail to hike which I did this past weekend in Chattanooga.

    The trail is a 9.8 mile loop located in North Chattanooga in the Prentice Cooper State Forest. It may be part of the Cumberland Trail but I am not sure.

    This is a link to the trail which is very well written. (The Cumberland Trail org. is all volunteer so you might consider giving them a small donation via the Pay Pal link on the website.)

    https://www.cumberlandtrail.org/maps...ens-cove-loop/

    To get to the parking area, take Signal Mountain road north turning left on Suck Creek (yes, that is the real name). After 8 miles, there will be a turn off sign to your left for Prentice-Cooper. Once you pass through the gate, there is a shooting range on your right. Drive about 2 1/2 to 3 miles down a well-graded gravel road past the shooting range and you will see this sign.

    cumberland sign.jpg

    Park here and the start to the trail is at the western edge of the parking area. (If hiking counter-clockwise). It is all explained on the trail description by CT.org.

    If hiked counter-clockwise (which I recommend), the overnight campsite, if needed, is at the 5.6 mile mark. That will leave 4.2 miles for the second day.

    On the first day, there is much lower level hiking near a stream with many rock-hops so it is slow going. But after about a mile you reach this swimming hole.

    swimming hole.jpg

    These photos are from my phone camera and not too good unfortunately but you can see the swimming hole to the right of the picture.

    While the elevation gain and loss on the trail is relatively moderate, the trail takes you over several hiking obstacles. The trail is well marked and expertly maintained. Out of the 9.8 miles, there was only one downed tree on the trail which I quickly removed.

    trail rocks.jpg

    Lots of large boulders and rock formations along the trail.

    stream crossing.jpg

    The streams were near record high levels with all the rain but with the strategically placed rocks, I never had to take off my shoes and never got my feet wet.

    tree rock.jpg

    How cool is that?
    Last edited by cneill13; 03-04-2019 at 10:49.

  2. #2
    Senior Member cneill13's Avatar
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    At the 5.3 mile mark, you reach Mullen's Cove Overlook which is this.

    Mullens.jpg

    I came back later about 8 pm to watch the stars and had it all to myself. The weather was mild and I didn't even need a jacket. Little did I know this was the proverbial calm before a massive storm rolled in.

    Mullens2.jpg

    Another view from Mullen's Overlook.

    The Hemlock Branch campsite was nice but fairly small. Although weather early in the night was expected to be good, a storm was rolling in the following morning but the campsite was still very full. There are camping sites on both sides of the stream. I found this sweet spot right before a large crowd came in. That was the first of many events to follow with lucky timing.

    camp.jpg

    This is the view of my camp from across the stream. It was in a Hemlock forest, one of my favorite trees.

    fire.jpg

    The fire ring for my camp was awesome, there was a large boulder table and someone had stack stones to make a nice bench. I pulled a few logs out of the stream and with my Sven saw had a large stack of wood in about 15 minutes.

    The other group in my immediate camping area was a group of 6 ex-military friends out for the weekend. They were great guys and we hung out for a few hours. I then hiked over to Mullen's Overlook to watch the stars.

  3. #3
    Senior Member cneill13's Avatar
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    The next morning, I woke up to the pitter-patter of rain drops on my UGQ Winter Dream tarp. When I got up at 7:30, the camp was completely empty. I quickly packed up my new DH Sparrow hammock (it rocks) and took off.

    After about a mile, you come to the second overlook called Snooper's Rock. This picture does not show how amazing it is. With the storm rolling in, there was no view.

    snoopers.jpg

    cliff.jpg

    This is the view down from Snooper's Rock. It was looking down at the top of large oak trees.

    From Snooper's Rock, the trail is largely ridgeline hiking.

    rocks.jpg

    You pass large rock formations like this.

    cedars.jpg

    But also dip down into cedar forests.

    view.jpg

    There are other views along the trail but not quite as stunning as the previous two. Notice the river in the background.

  4. #4
    Senior Member cneill13's Avatar
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    The second day, there would be periods of no haze, but then I would suddenly enter into fog.

    trail.jpg

    fog.jpg

    This was the view to my right along the trail. There was a steep drop off.

    At the 9.3 mile mark, 1/2 mile from the parking lot to complete the loop, there is the Indian Rockhouse. Again, this picture does not do it justice as this was an incredible rock structure. It has a rounded ceiling.

    rock house.jpg

    The trail up from the Rockhouse squeezed through this. My pack was scraping hard on both sides.

    stairs.jpg

    It took me just under 2 hours to complete the 4.2 miles back to my car. While the lot was full the previous day, I was the only one there in the morning.

    The road to the parking area is closed at dusk and reopens at 5:30 am so that gives you a little comfort against overnight vandalism.

    As soon as I reached my car, the skies literally opened up. It rained hard for two solid hours on my way home.

    All told, the Mullen's Loop Trail is highly recommended. There is another trail called Pot Point Loop in the same area that I plan on hiking soon.

  5. #5
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    Thanks a ton for this report. I have done part of this trail as a day hike but have wanted to go back and do it as an overnight. Did you have to get any permits? Is the campsite the only one on the loop?

  6. #6
    Senior Member cneill13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailSlug View Post
    Thanks a ton for this report. I have done part of this trail as a day hike but have wanted to go back and do it as an overnight. Did you have to get any permits? Is the campsite the only one on the loop?
    You do not need any permits. That was the only established camp site that I saw. I guess you could camp in other areas but nothing really jumped out at me.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Vanhalo's Avatar
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    My first overnight was @ Prentice Cooper.

    My only concern is parking security.

    Being from Chattanooga ....i know a little bit about Prentice Cooper .....it is the first stop for new and old 4x4 and ATV recreational vehicles.

    While they do close the gates @ night...it is less likely to attract LNT clientèle during the open hours and it is heavily used by the public.

    Sometimes I wish i had a $100 beater car just so i can leave it @ the trail head.

    It is always a concern whenever i scout locations.

    Prentice Cooper is one of those sites that concerns me.

    With all that being said I will definitely be hiking this sometime soon.
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  8. #8
    TrailSlug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vanhalo View Post
    My only concern is parking security.
    Prentice Cooper is one of those sites that concerns me.
    I had a guy tell me a while back to leave an almost empty whiskey bottle and some loose small arms shells laying in your passengers side seat to deter this type of behavior. I've tried this and so far so good.

  9. #9
    Senior Member cneill13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vanhalo View Post
    My first overnight was @ Prentice Cooper.

    My only concern is parking security.

    Being from Chattanooga ....i know a little bit about Prentice Cooper .....it is the first stop for new and old 4x4 and ATV recreational vehicles.

    While they do close the gates @ night...it is less likely to attract LNT clientèle during the open hours and it is heavily used by the public.

    Sometimes I wish i had a $100 beater car just so i can leave it @ the trail head.

    It is always a concern whenever i scout locations.

    Prentice Cooper is one of those sites that concerns me.

    With all that being said I will definitely be hiking this sometime soon.

    You are correct. It is a very scary world out there. Just to be extra cautious - lock your car in the garage, keep the blinds shut and maybe even hide under your bed.

    You will be very safe there.

  10. #10
    TrailSlug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cneill13 View Post
    You are correct. It is a very scary world out there. Just to be extra cautious - lock your car in the garage, keep the blinds shut and maybe even hide under your bed.

    You will be very safe there.
    Wow! Was this supposed to be a joke? If not ...Rude!

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