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170 Volunteer Trail 2009-12-30

Percy Priest Lake from Volunteer Trail, Long Hunter State Park

To complete our hikes at Long Hunter State Park, we returned for the Volunteer Trail (a.k.a. the Overnight Trail.) The trail is an "out and back" and between 11 and 12 miles long - we saw two different mileages listed. The trail is dog friendly, so Jake joined us.

The trail starts at the same trailhead as the Day Loop. After leaving the parking area, it is not long before the trail veers right and continues over the rolling terrain until reaching a junction. At the Loop Trail junction, we turned right, where both trails share the same path for 1.3 miles. After climbing over a modest hill and passing through an old stone fence, the trail descends to another junction. Turning left continues the Loop Trail the right branch is the Volunteer Trail.

An information kiosk is near the junction. Leaving the kiosk the trail climbs another easy hill and continues along the Percy Priest Lake shoreline. It follows close to the water’s edge for the rest of the hike. The trail is not traveled as often as the well trodden Loop Trail. The white blazes were easy to follow, but the trail at times was faint from the fallen leaves.

The trail ends at the backcountry campsites after 5.5 miles. The trail does not loop, so like the Bryant Grove Trail, you just turn around and return.

A few trail notes:

  • The Day Loop Trail is blazed orange and the Volunteer Trail is blazed white. I don’t know but the Volunteer Trail seems like it should have been orange (you know, The University of Tennessee Volunteers - the Big Orange).
  • The trail was relatively flat.
  • Once on the Volunteer Trail (not the joint trail section) there were no more benches.
  • There was a huge stone fence near the campsites.
  • The campsites were at a great location. Of course there were several other unofficial campsites along the way. One of the unofficial campsites even had a white plastic chair!
  • Trash along the high water waterline was once again an issue. Maybe we could start a Leave No Trace for Boaters and Fishermen. Of course it would be hard to "leave no trace" when you operate a big boat with a big motor, trailer, and huge truck just to pull the boat to the lake. There are fishermen who don’t use a boat and some boaters who only use a small jon boat or even a small boat with no motor! Sorry to be picking on the fishermen and boaters, but the trash was evident. There were plastic blue bait containers everywhere.

The overall hiking experience was good. It was an easy path and quick to walk. We did the round-trip in four hours walking fast, we did not run. It would really be a great overnight hike in warmer weather. The campsites looked great but might be used by boaters as well as hikers.

Happy Volunteer Trail.


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