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)

Other Trails in the Park: Cumberland Plateau, Byrd Creek, Overnight Trail

For Map, Trail Mileage, GPS, and Trail Notes go to Page 2

Pre-Hike Comments

The Pioneer Loops were supposed to be more popular trails than the Overnight and Byrd Creek Trails.

The Trail

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.

Historic plaque of CCC work in area

CCC Sign

The orange blazed Byrd Lake Trail follows the shore to connect with the Pioneer Loop at the bridge.

Byrd Lake Dam

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 Boat House

The Bridge and Boathouse

At the bridge, the Pioneer Short Loop begins. Parking is also available at the Boathouse.

White Trail

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.

swinging bridge

Suspension Bridge

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.

small Creek crossing

Creek Crossing

The trail follows the upper Byrd Creek to the Old Mail Road and bridge.

Fat Man's Squeeze

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.

stone fence

Old stone fence

After a tenth of a mile a stone fence shrouded in moss tells a story of days before barb wire.

creek crossing

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.

road sign

Joining Old Mail Road

Reach the road in another .20 miles. From the suspension bridge it is 1.45 miles to the road.

trail sign mising an I

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.

trail sign pointing which way to go

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.

finishing the walk, hiking between the lake and the restaurant

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.