Longmire Trail

 By Joe Feeman

Longmire Trail begins under the power line at the junction with Freeway Trail just behind the old TVA Fisheries Lab on Hwy 441. One of the steepest trails in the watershed, Longmire climbs (or falls) about 500 feet in 0.8 miles. The trail is rocky and eroded as you climb under the power line and along the side of a hollow up to the woods. This is one of the most unique hollows in the watershed; the area is heavily forested but the hollow is very open, visually. Longmire is a steep, rocky trail that has received no maintenance in years. It is used primarily by horseback riders, but some hikers do stumble on it occasionally (most watershed users expect all of the trails to be in good condition and when they see this trail on the map they think it will be like the others, but it is not typical of other trails). Although Longmire is a purple trail, open to all but motorized users, it is a difficult bicycle trail and should only be ridden by technically competent riders.

An old logging road cuts to the left soon after you enter the woods. The forest on this side of the hollow is an uncommon type for the watershed, composed primarily of northern red oak, white ash, sugar maple, white oak, and yellow poplar. This forest type is a mixture of cove and northern hardwoods which prefer north and east aspects with rich, moist soils. You will climb for a while and then the trail flattens out somewhat on a rocky surface. Notice the large embedded rock and bedrock that are on the road surface. I am not sure of the origin of this road but I would imagine it was used prior to TVA purchase to traverse the Longmire farm, which totaled over 1000 acres. In 1959, the road was used by Boyd Cupp to harvest storm damaged timber and was the site of a portable sawmill. Most of this harvest was on the upper end of the trail. In 1971, as part of the Longleaf contract, 50 acres was selectively harvested in this hollow and the main road and lateral skid roads were used to haul logs.

The trail starts to climb steeply on a difficult surface with rocks and roots. Just before you reach the top of this climb an old log road enters on the right. The trail drops slightly before starting to climb an easy slope. Notice that the forest on the right side of the trail has changed to chestnut oak, black oak, and white oak while the left side is dominated by yellow poplar. An old log road will be on your left and you will see an abundance of Japanese wineberries, another invasive exotic plant. The trail becomes more rocky and eroded as you climb. On your left another log road takes off. These last two roads which cut off to the left can be used to reach the road that runs from High Point to the cabins at Norris Dam State Park. You will have to ‘bushwhack' (hike through the woods with no trail) a short distance where there is no road, but it is a beautiful hike. The trail now starts to climb, moderately at first, and then steeply, up the rocky eroded trail surface. This old road is what a forester calls a ‘slot' road because it has become basically a drainage ditch with no outlet for the water and just gets deeper over time. Notice again the forest composition; as you climb toward the top, yellow poplar gradually gives way to oaks as the site becomes drier. The road bends left and makes the final, steep climb to the top, where you will pass by a cable and then reach Hi Point Trail, just below High Point (to the left).

Longmire Trail is the most difficult trail in the watershed. I find that hiking up it is much easier because you can navigate the rocks better. You should wear hiking boots or other sturdy shoes to hike the trail. By all means, don't just write this trail off, because it is in a beautiful hollow, unlike others in the watershed. I often hike through the woods from Freeway Trail, down the ridge and meet Longmire Trail via the old log road which comes in on the right, about half way up. From there I go up to the second log road to the left and take it across the hollow and up on the next ridge. An old road, which is faintly obvious in places, leads up along the side ridge to the State park and road that goes from Hi Point to the cabins. You will see the property line for the park which is marked with signs and paint. I then go over to Hi Point and beyond. The watershed is not a difficult area to ‘bushwhack' in, but people can get lost, so if you do try this, it would be a good idea to have a map and compass with you.     

Enter supporting content here