Frozen Head’s Old Mac Trail

Take a 7-mile trek up one of the best trails in the Cumberlands.

Photo by Keith Norris

If you are anything like me and hike to escape the crowds of the city, going to the Smokies may not give you that fulfillment, especially during peak times of the year. Frozen Head State Park is a great way to avoid the crowds, while still being able to enjoy the grandeur of East Tennessee’s Mountains.

Photo by Keith Norris

Recently, I trekked along Old Mac Trail where I found myself walking on a blanket of fallen leaves, the brown leaves under my feet starkly contrasting against the yellow canopy of the expansive forest, intensifying the experience into a surreal explosion of color, as if someone shook the yellow out of a paintbrush over and over again. It was a playground for my senses, the sweet scent of rain on the breeze, of damp dirt and moss. The forest was still, with only the occasional echo of a song bird in the distance. I huddled along the bank of the river to feel the coolness of the water on my fingertips and climbed the fern and moss covered boulders strewn throughout the forest—evidence of how ancient these mountains are.

On the day I was there, the top of the mountain was shrouded in a mist that made me think the mountains hide a mysterious secret of the past, and as I walked enveloped in the mist, I felt hidden and inclined to leave some of my own secrets behind. At the top of this trail is Lookout Tower, an old fire tower that has been modified with an observation deck, and on a clear day provides exceptional views of the Tennessee Valley and beyond. Escape the crowds, awaken the explorer within, and discover this gem in Knoxville’s back yard.   


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