Byrd Lake Trail, Pioneer Short Loop, and Pioneer Trail
Date Hiked: 11/22/09
Park: Cumberland Mountain State Park
Address: 24 Office Dr, Crossville, TN 38555
Latitude: 35.90054, Longitude: -84.99714
Trail Rating: Easy
Round-Trip Mileage: 5.55 (all three trails as a loop)
For Map, Trail Mileage, GPS, and Trail Notes go to Page 2
The Pioneer Loops were supposed to be more popular trails than the Overnight and Byrd Creek Trails.
Directions: The Park was easy to locate. From any of the Crossville exits off of Interstate 40, go south to reach Hwy 127 (exit 317, the most westerly exit, is hwy 127). Hwy 127 is Main Street. Head south or east on 127. After passing through town, it is about 3.5 miles to the Homestead junction. Bear right to stay on Hwy 127. The Park entrance is .75 miles on the right. On entering the Park, the Park Office is located on the right before Byrd Lake. Park at the Office or continue across the Dam and park at the restaurant. Information about the Park is available at the Office.
Starting at the Park Office cross the road and head south along the east side of the lake - opposite the restaurant.
The orange blazed Byrd Lake Trail follows the shore to connect with the Pioneer Loop at the bridge.
Byrd Lake Dam from the Lake Trail
There are some great photo-op's of the dam along this trail. A creek is forded after .4 miles and the large bridge at the boat dock is at .6 miles from the road.
The Bridge and Boathouse
At the bridge, the Pioneer Short Loop begins. Parking is also available at the Boathouse.
Hiking along the shores of Byrd Lake
The white blazes continue to follow Byrd Lake to the swinging bridge.
After .20 miles a creek is crossed and after another .15 miles a rock bluff overlook can be seen on the opposite bank of the lake. The trail is now sandwiched between the lake and the golf course.
It is .40 miles to the next creek and then the suspension bridge is another .25 miles away. This leg of the Short Loop is 1.05 miles (including one bridge crossing).
Cross the bridge to continue on the Short Loop or begin the Pioneer Trail blazed with green markers.
The trail follows the upper Byrd Creek to the Old Mail Road and bridge.
Fat Man’s Squeeze
There are a number of rock house features along this section of trail. After crossing a couple of small creeks, go through the Fat Man’s Squeeze rock formation at .7 miles.
Old stone fence
After a tenth of a mile a stone fence shrouded in moss tells a story of days before barb wire.
Rock hopping on the Pioneer Trail
The trail crosses a couple more creeks.
Passing through the Outcropping
After .15 miles the trail enters another distinguishable rockhouse. The trail finds a passage between the walls.
Joining Old Mail Road
Reach the road in another .20 miles. From the suspension bridge it is 1.45 miles to the road.
Crossing the bridge on Old Mail Rd
Go onto the road, cross the bridge and then return to the trail. Be sure to look under the road at the bridge construction, it is quite impressive.
The return trip seemed faster.
Crossing a Creek
After .85 miles a creek is crossed followed by another after only a short while. The suspension bridge is reached at .15 miles.
Rejoin the Pioneer Short Loop (white blaze) and continue following the creek and headwaters of the lake.
Rock Overlook, can also be seen from the otherside of the Lake
After .55 miles the small rock bluff seen from the trail on the other side of the lake is reached. This is a great place for a small break. Hiking another .35 miles is the boat dock and bridge. The boat dock is .9 miles from the swinging bridge.
Nearing the dam
From the boat dock either continue hiking on the same side of the lake or cross the bridge and finish on the Byrd Lake Trail. To continue on the west side of the lake, follow the road for a hundred feet and then cut off to the right behind the old bath house. Return to the lake in front of the restaurant and walk to the dam. Cross the dam on the road and return to the Park Office.
The lengths of the trails are as follows: Byrd Lake Trail (orange) - .6 miles, Pioneer Short (white) - 2.00 miles (crossing both bridges), Pioneer (green) - 2.5 miles (crossing the Old Mail Road Bridge), and the walk in front of the restaurant is .25 miles. The total roundtrip is 5.55 miles to hike from the Park Office and back.