Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Travel Guide

  • Park entrance
    Park entrance
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  • Fort Lyon site
    Fort Lyon site
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  • View from the overlook
    View from the overlook
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Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Things to Do

  • Gap Cave

    Timing was wrong to join a tour of the cave, but even without the tour, you can go poke your head in. From the Daniel Boone Visitor Center, it's about a half mile hike up the hill. If you follow the trail to the right (to the cave), it quickly becomes a fork in the road. Take the left fork, and you will be near a closed off section of the cave....

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  • Iron Furnace

    If you travel through the town of Cumberland Gap, you'll eventually hit a small parking lot maintained by the NPS. From there, it is an extremely short jaunt along a paved trail to find the remains of the Iron furnace. This was used in the mind-1800's to turn limestone and iron ore into pig iron, which was then shipped to factories. You can walk up...

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  • Pinnacles Overlook

    It's a short, but very windy road up to the top of the mountain, which gives you the chance to see KY, VA, and TN all together. From the parking lot, you just have to hike a few hundred feet to the actual overlook, which is full of placards to help point out some of the areas features. You can see the mountains and the town of Cumberland Gap, TN....

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  • Pinnacle - see all 3 states

    Its worth the winding drive up the mountain (ok, I liked the drive too) to see a great view of Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky at once.

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  • The Gap

    It's cool to know that Daniel Boone and a large percent of American ancestors came through this gap to the West.

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  • Gap Cave Tour

    I have been in a lot of caves, and this may be my favorite. The park ranger guides were very informative and personable. The cave is beautiful. It isn't very commercialized. We got to see quite a few bats at close range. There are even signatures from the civil war. (ask your guide what the gave was like before it became part of the National Park)

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  • Visit the Visitor Center

    Start at the park visitor center on the Kentucky side. It's full of information about the historic trail and information about where you can go hiking and the drive to the top of the Pinnacles. See the movie (25 minutes or less). It's a great summary.

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  • View from the Pinacles.

    It's a steep drive, but once you're on top, the view is wonderful. You can see south along the chain of mountains. This is a rare place in each of the three states it's in. Technically, the Pinnacles is in Virginia, but you reach it from Kentucky.

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  • Drive the tunnel.

    Sounds silly, but tunnels are rare in most countries and especially in the U.S. Here, you can quickly pass under the mountain and visit the Tennessee side. Little to do, but it's the historic eastern end of gap and the eastern segment of the Wilderness Trail (Daniel Boone Trail).

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  • Other areas of the park

    There are also other areas of the park that extend further into Virginia. If you are a hiker and enjoy beautiful views and want to be able to see for miles then I would suggest making a trip to Ewing Virginia for a visit to the sand cave and also to the white rocks where you can see for miles. The trail is steep and rugged. If you have weak ankles...

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  • Tri State Peak Trail

    The tri state peak trail is just a little over a mile and begins at the saddle of Cumberland Gap. On the way to the top, you'll find the remains of a Union brigade's camp which was blown up when the Union had to retreat. The Gap actually changed hands between the north and south several times during the war and ultimately fell, obviously, to the...

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  • Daniel Boone Trail

    The Wilderness Trail, also named after Daniel Boone, runs from Tennessee through the gap and into Kentucky. This was the road that hundreds of pioneers crossed on foot and later in covered wagons in their quest for establishing settlements in the west. You can walk a portion of the Wilderness Trail from the Iron Furnace Trail. The plaque dedicated...

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  • Civil War lookout point

    When driving to the top of Pinnacle Overlook, you'll notice a turnout for one of the lookout points along the gap. A canon still stands as memory to the war fought on this terrain. Later in the war, when the Union army advanced, soldiers dug earthworks and took defensive positions to maintain their hold on Cumberland Gap. The plaque explains a bit...

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  • Pinnacle Overlook

    This beautiful overlook is the high point of the park, both literally and figuratively. From the visitor's center, a twisting hairpin curved road leads up a mountain to the overlook. A short trail leads to the observation deck and the gap appears below.

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  • Gap Cave

    The cave tour was very informative. Each person carried their own flashlight which allowed us all to look where we wanted to. The cave had a lot of history associated with it. It was intresting to learn how the cave had been used in the past (for instance, it was used as a hospital during the civil war by both sides). It even had civil war era...

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  • Tri States Peak

    This small wooded point, at an elevation of 1,990 feet, would seem insignificant among the surrounding higher peaks and ridges, except for one thing. Here is where the three states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia come together. A small pavilion has been built by the National Park Service, and on the concrete floor are maked the lines of the...

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  • The Pinnacle Overlook

    From the Visitor's Center a winding four-mile-long road leads to the Pinnacle Overlook parking lot. Here you find an easy paved pathway will take you to the Pinnacle Overlook. Along the way you will step over the Virginia/Kentucky border. The overlook offers spectacular views of three states, down onto the little town of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee,...

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  • The "Wilderness Road" Trail

    This trail follows the original route of Daniel Boone's "Wilderness Road." It is reclaimed wilderness today. After the tunnel was built through Cumberland Gap, the old highway over it was replaced with this well graded three-mile-long footpath. Along the way you will see the this old iron furnace and other reminders of pioneer activity. This hike...

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Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Transportation

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated May 27, 2004

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    You can't drive over the Cumberland Gap any more, not since Oct. 1996. Which is wonderful, because now there is a very quite hiking trail where the old road used to be. The pity is that many people, much too much in a hurry, now zip through the 4,600-foot four-lane tunnel on U.S. 25-E, and never know what they are missing. Be sure to stop and take a look around.

    The northern portal to the tunnel is in Middlesboro, Kentucky, and the southern portal in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee.

    Tunnel through Cumberland Gap
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Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Local Customs

  • Civil War history at the Gap

    Cumberland Gap was both a lookout point and a strategic hold of the south during the civil war. It was referred to as the Keystone of teh Confederacy and both sides felt that an invasion by the other would come through the Gap. To prevent this, the Confederate army cut down a large number of trees covering the mountain and scattered them like a...

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  • Earthworks

    The original earthworks dug by Confederate soldiers remain along Cumberland Gap. When driving to Pinnacle Overlook, you'll see a sign indicating a civil war historic site. Here a short trail leads to a lookout point guarded by a canon and the entrenchments used by Confederate soldiers. The overlook also provides a view of the land these soldiers...

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Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Warnings and Dangers

  • k4uad's Profile Photo

    by k4uad Written Mar 31, 2006

    I want to point out the dangers of doing any hiking in this area. I know the dangers of the area well because I live here. If you are planning to hike or camp at the Cumberland Gap camping sites, be wary of poisonous snakes such as rattlesnakes and copperheads. They are very active during the summer months. I had a friend to be bitten by a copperhead on his 16th birthday party by wandering into a weeded area. So be careful.
    Also be sure you know what poison ivy and poison oak plants look like. It can save you a lot of pain and make your stay here a lot more comfortable. Depending on your level of tolerance to these plants, it could range to mild irritation to spreading all over your body.

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Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Off The Beaten Path

  • The best view

    This hill is located along the trail leading to Cumberland Gap. There's a footpath along the side, which I thought was the actual trail, so I hiked on up to get a better view. It was very steep actually and tough to get down (almost tumbled a couple of times). Bur the view was pretty amazing.

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  • Abraham Lincoln Museum

    Two miles south of Cumberland Gap, In the small town of Harrogate, TN, is the campus of Lincoln Memorial University and the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum. Here we thoroughly enjoyed viewing one of the largest and most diverse collections anywhere of memorbilia concerning America's 16th president and the Civil War Era. This surprising gem of a...

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Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Favorites

  • Cumberland Gap Visitors Center

    The main Cumberland Gap visitor's center lies just off hwy 25E in Kentucky. The two story structure has a few exhibits, but mostly some arts and crafts for sale. When I visited, I noticed the log cabin and several other structures on the expansive green lawn adjacent to the visitor's center. It appears that the park is trying to create a depiction...

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  • Tri State Area

    Cumberland Gap lies at the intersection of three states- Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. Portions of the park cross these states. If you drive to the Daniel Boone Visitor's Center and the town of Cumberland Gap, you will cross the Tennessee and Virginia border. When I visited, people were stopping along the highway, taking pictures of the...

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  • Iron Furnace

    The Iron Furnace is located off a short trail which begins just outside of the town of Cumberland Gap. The furnace was originally 30 feet high and was used to produce iron, hence the name. From here, the trail connects with the Wilderness Trail, the Tri State Peak and also leads to pretty incredible views of Cumberland Gap.

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