Little Cedar Mountain Trail is a 3.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Rankin Cove, Tennessee that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
3.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
400 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

Both Little Cedar and Cedar Mountain hug the western shoreline of the Tennessee River/Nickajack Lake as the tail-end of Walden Ridge is broken up in the Tennessee River gorge and blends into the Sequatchie valley. The elevation gain and topography grant the Little Cedar Mountain Trail a dry side and a moist side; the wildlife and plants present reflect these subtle changes thus making the two loop trails a somewhat different experience as you hike within the parcel. The trail is owned and maintained by TVA and zero impact is expected.

hiking
20 days ago

Great little trail for a quick hike. Beautiful view of the Tennessee River! We love that we can access it by kayak.

trail running
1 month ago

I had a great time hiking and running on this trail with my daughter. The trail head was just off the exit from the highway and very easy to access, it was mid afternoon and there was no one else there. For a trail so close to a highway it felt very peaceful. I highly recommend this trail. Single track,rocky,nice hills, very beautiful.

hiking
1 month ago

This a great 3.3 miler just outside of Chattanooga...easy to get to and a great easy to moderate hike with woods, interesting rock formations and a rewarding view of Nickajack Lake at the farthest out point. If you take the right turn on the loop you will have an easier go of it. The left way will create a rocky ascent at one point in the trail where it is moderate. The trail is well blazed if you go left but some of the blazes have disappeared if you tackle it from the right so you may want to look over your shoulder if you get off the path. This is a great trail for Fall through Spring but can get overgrown in the summer.

hiking
1 month ago

Enjoyable hike through the woods. Rocky terrain with some nice scenery of the Tennessee river. Marked really well.

Great hike in the woods! We went on a Sunday morning and didn’t see one other person. It has minimal views of the water, and lots of mosquitoes- so we definitely recommend cooler weather hiking for this trail to avoid the mosquitoes as much as possible! We saw a huge buck and some birds. Pretty quiet once you get about halfway out- otherwise you hear the highway most of the time. Overall a good trail with well marked trees and pretty decent trail maintenance considering the lack of hikers. Happy Wandering!

hiking
2 months ago

Just hiked this one today. The path was overgrown in some areas, and as autumn comes, I imagine it might actually get difficult to identify the trail. That being said, the trees have white paint here and there to let you know you're still doing just fine.

Pretty hike. Saw multiple deer, and found some wild plums that we're going to be delicious in a few weeks. The path has one or two good overlooks of the river. The path also dips down to the river a time or two.

Lots of spiderwebs. Lots of geographic diversity. Interesting plants along the way, and plenty of American Beautyberry

3 months ago

Not very used and a bit hard to stay on trail. Has not been cleared or maintained in a few months.

hiking
3 months ago

Trail is a bit overgrown and you really have to pay attention to trail markers. We went at about 8:30 -10:30am and didn’t see anyone else in the trail at all. Basically a walk in the woods with some nice rock formations but you can really only get some limited views of the lake. Take a stick with you to knock down all the spider webs :-).

walking
8 months ago

I really enjoyed this trail. Not only was it beautiful, but if you’re looking for an easier trail then this is for you. There’s a couple of rocks to step onto but other than that it’s a dirt trail that is kept up and extremely nice. I would definitely recommend it.

hiking
8 months ago

great spring hike with numerous wild flowers and habits.

9 months ago

The trail was semi wet from all the rain recently but still very navigable. I was passing through on a road trip and loved that this trail was right off the highway to stop for lunch. I would call this trail easy. The elevation gain was gradual. Very well marked!!! Great views, especially for being right next to the highway, I was more than pleased. Better hike than I could have anticipated and great views to sit and eat lunch!

9 months ago

Beautiful this time of the year. Love all the moss covered rocks. Interesting how the scenery changes. Will go back.

hiking
10 months ago

We started hiking again and picked this as our first trail. It is a beautiful trail with lots of scenery and a great view of the Tennessee river.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Beautiful hike near a lake. Trail was well marked. Not too difficult, however there was probably close to a dozen trees fallen and covering the path that you had to climb over or under. Downside.. it was close to the interstate and you could hear that the majority of the time.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I practically live on this trail( only a little over a mile from my home) There is a pond atop the trail that I have NEVER seen gone dry in all my years of hiking here. The upper bluff offers great viewing.

hiking
Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Beautiful 3.3 mile loop:) was pleasantly surprised

hiking
Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Beautiful 3.3 mile loop:) was pleasantly surprised

Friday, June 02, 2017

Great trail! I would say this is on the easier side of moderate. Would be good for families! Very beautiful!

hiking
Saturday, April 08, 2017

great trail steep in parts but overall a moderate hike.

hiking
Monday, December 19, 2016

Great trail for a quick day hike. Wife is 7 months pregnant and did it with ease. We lost our dogs at some point and its conveniently fenced and surrounded by water so I ran the trail a second time and found them.
Great views of the river and the surrounding area.

hiking
Friday, November 04, 2016

Loved the trail! It's absolutely gorgeous and very easy to do.

hiking
Monday, October 24, 2016

The Little Cedar Mountain Trail is a TVA trail located within TVA’s Little Cedar Mountain Small Wild Area. It is a total of 4 miles, including a loop trail and a short 1 mile trail to a tranquil wetland pond located on the ridge summit. Along the way you can view a plant unique only to this area of the world, scramble across limestone outcroppings, and have several opportunities for scenic overlooks of the Nickajack Dam embayment and Tennessee River Gorge.

Begin the hike by crossing a wooden footbridge from the trailhead parking lot as it leads into the hardwood-pine forest. A little over a quarter of a mile into the trail, the loop trail splits. Veer to the left to go uphill and through an impressive assemblage of John Beck’s Leafcup (Polymnia johnbeckii ). This species of Leafcup was recently described as new to science in the past few years and is found in only two places in the world; one of these locations is along the Little Cedar Mountain Trail. With a soft, fernlike appearance, the Leafcup can be found flourishing along the trail and across karst topography. The trail continues approximately a quarter of a mile across the ridge and to the shoreline. Continue along the contour as the trail leads upslope for a little less than a mile to the pond trail or continue on another quarter of a mile to a scenic overlook. The pond trail is an interesting diversion as it leads to a small forested wetland pond at the top of Little Cedar Mountain. Vernal pools are seasonal, shallow depressions of water and provide important habitat for plants and animals, especially amphibians. This one is unique in that it is found along the top of the ridge and water remains throughout the year. It is a great opportunity for photos and exploration. Continue ahead to take the pond trail back to the remaining portion of the loop trail or retrace back to the loop trail towards a scenic overlook. From the spectacular panoramic view atop Gray’s bluff you can see across the lake towards Sand Mountain.

The landscape within the remaining portion of the loop trail provides a different perspective, as it leads from the steep, eastern embayment side of the parcel to a more moist environment on the western side. There are many impressive geologic features on this portion of the trail. Stacks of boulders that border the trail, large rock footbridges, and mossy outcroppings of limestone and occasional chert. Look for owls and other birds in the large shagbark hickories.

What Makes It Great

The variety of habitats encountered along this trail means that there is a little something for everyone (steep climbs, geologic features, scenic vistas, wildlife viewing, vegetated canopy, wetlands, and bluffs). Plus this trail is literally right off of the interstate. It is the perfect side trip to tag on if you are on the way to or going out of Chattanooga.

Who is Going to Love It

Naturalists and historians will love this trail as it winds through historic lands that were important to Native Americans and Chief Dragging Canoe. The location overlooks the former Nickajack Town, one of the five lower towns previously occupied by Native Americans.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Take I-24 West from Chattanooga and turn left off of exit 158 to continue on TN 27W/TVA Road. The trailhead parking lot is approximately 0.3 miles on the left.

Tennessee Valley Authority manages the Little Cedar Mountain Trail and this Natural Area for resource and scenic protection and hiking. Trailhead and parking lot signs are visible on the main road and there is a large parking lot. Foot traffic only.

hiking
5 months ago

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