The Cumberland Gap was America’s first great gateway to the West. It was the only realistic passage from the East through the Appalachian Mountains into the Ohio Valley for 100 miles in either direction. This natural route, also known as “The Warriors’ Path,” became known as “The Wilderness Trail,” surveyed by Daniel Boone and company.
We’ll stop into the park’s visitors center in Middlesboro, Kentucky. Exhibits, films, and presentations by the National Park Service rangers on the site will give us a broad overview of the historical significance of the Gap. While the park rangers offer two guided tours, we typically won’t participate in those. One is a 4-hour guided tour of the Hensley Settlement within the park boundaries. The other is a 2-hour guided tour of Gap Cave.
On Tour #1803, we’ll leave the park to visit Lincoln Memorial University and their Lincoln Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee. Then we’ll return to the park near sunset and take the winding 4-mile road up to Pinnacle Overlook to take in the view of the Powell river Valley in East Tennessee from an elevation of 2,400 feet. There will be plenty of time to view the magnificent panorama and take photos; some tour participants will want to hike a little further upward to stand on the point where Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky join. On the clearest of days, the view is said to extend as far as Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.