Hike the Cumberland Scenic Trail

With finals over, and graduation still two days away, this is the perfect time to throw your gear in your pack, load in with Campus Rec, and enjoy a night under the stars, and a day on the trail. On May 2, a small group of hikers will leave for Chattanooga, departing on what is sure to be another memorable adventure. Spend the night camping under the stars at Prentice Cooper State Forest, where we will join in fellowship around the campfire before retreating to the tents for the night. The next morning, we'll set out for a day of hiking 16+ miles on the Cumberland Scenic Trail, passing abandoned mines, over creek crossings, and across swinging bridges. With an early morning start, we will reach Heiss Mt. trailhead in the mid-afternoon, and be back through Chattanooga in time to grab a hot meal on our way home to Nashville.

As this takes place in May, the weather can be tricky, but temperatures can be expected to be warm/hot during daylight hours and comfortable during twilight. Sudden rain showers are always a possibility this time of year, so preparing accordingly is encouraged. Participants will need their own gear (gear list below), and be able to carry a day pack (15-20 lbs, average) for 16+miles. Though this will be a single-day through hike, it will still be a backcountry environment with no facilities present - participants should keep this in mind when assessing their desire to go on this trip. Food will be the responsibility of each participant, and our seasoned staff are more than happy to help anyone navigate what that should/will look like. 

Detail Basics:

Leave Lipscomb University May 2 at 4:00 pm

Camp at designated campground in Prentice Cooper State Forest night of May 2

On trail by 6:00 am morning of May 3

Return to Lipscomb University May 3 around 8:00 pm

Cost - $15 (covers transportation and exclusive Lipscomb Backpacking patch)

Meals are not included on this trip. Participant is responsible for own food during trip, including money for a fast food dinner stop on way down, and a lunch stop on the return trip to Nashville. 

Participants must have own gear, and must be capable of completing a 16+ mile hike unassisted.

*** Campus Rec staff have training in Wilderness First Aid, and will be carrying a SPOT GPS locator in case of emergency.


Below, you will find lists intended to help you prepare for this trip. Know that these lists are not intended to be exhaustive, and are only offered as guidelines for what could help you have a great experience on this trip.

Gear List

*** (these are only the basics needed, and should not be viewed as an exhaustive list)

  • Backpack (hiking, not school)
  • Sleeping bag (rating matters; ask if unsure)
  • Tent or hammock (tent will be warmer)
  • Refillable water bottle/bladder
  • Way to treat water (tablets, filter, etc.)
  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • Hiking boots/shoes (preferably waterproof)
  • Layered clothing
  • Rain Jacket
  • Hat

Optional Gear

  • Walking poles
  • Personal stove (if bringing food that must be cooked, or to boil water)
  • Sleeping pad (highly recommended for insulation/warmth and comfort)

Food List

***(These are potential items you could use. It is up to you to decide what will work best for you, but we are happy to answer questions that could help you decide on your menu)


  • Pop-tarts
  • Granola bars
  • Any breakfast bar
  • Dry cereal
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Bag meals - Mountain House/Backpacker's Pantry/etc. (boiled water needed)


  • Tuna/salmon/chicken pouches
  • Salami/jerky/summer sausage/etc.
  • Hard cheeses
  • Tortillas/bagels/crackers/etc.
  • Peanut butter


  • Dried fruits (whole/fresh fruits are heavy and take up large amounts of space)
  • Nuts
  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars


  • A bad attitude (this is the most important thing to leave at home)
  • Electronics outside of cell phone
  • Larger than necessary bags/packs
  • Anything that is cumbersomely heavy
  • Too many clothes (most people bring changes of clothes, but never use them. That's extra weight!)



Cumberland Scenic Trail Hike

Registration for Hike the Cumberland Scenic Trail trip with Campus Recreation.