Friday, March 14, 2014

Trail Review - Mousetail Landing, Eagle Point Trail

Mousetail Landing Eagle Point Overnight Trail

Trail: Eagle Point Overnight Trail
Location: Mousetail Landing State Park - Linden, TN
Trail Length: 8 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Solitude: Good

I suspect that the Eagle Point Overnight Trail is the best marked trail in all of Tennessee's state park system. Spray-painted blue blazes are everywhere. They are on every other tree. They are on roots. They are on rocks. One would have to be near blind or severely impaired by hallucinogens to become lost on this one. One of the rangers told my girlfriend that children had been tasked with blazing the trails, and their enthusiasm is noted in large swaths of royal blue bark at every step. While no spectacular vistas or mind-blowing features are found on this trail, I can relate to the young tree-tagging advocates. This is a really nice, expansive trail located within a well-designed park, and both seem to be a bit under appreciated in a state dominated by the more dramatic mountains of the east.

The Eagle Point is a lollipop trail consisting of what I would guess has (roughly) a two-mile stem and a four-mile loop. Although we car-camped* the night before our hike, the trail has two backpacking shelters on opposite sides of the loop, each with bunks accommodating eight. The Eagle Point trail is pleasantly meandering with frequent but modest elevation changes. The "stem" portion of the trail wanders up and down hills and offers a couple of stream crossings. The majority of the loop section runs parallel to a junction of the Tennessee River and Lick Creek, offering limited views of water through dense woods of youngish forest. In the summer, I'm sure the views are even more limited. Despite a spectacularly beautiful day for March, the trail was very sparsely populated with one exemption. The trail's namesake, Eagle Point, houses one of the backpacking shelters (Shelter #2). Several tents were pitched in this area that apparently offers unencumbered views of the Tennessee River from a modest bluff. Because of the many tents and our weak "winter leg" fatigue setting in, we opted not to disturb the backpackers or interrupt our solitude, and simply kept moving past the side trail to the shelter and overlook. Even so, this was a very pleasant hike offering interesting terrain, a few armadillo sightings, and exceptional solitude (at least during our visit.)
*Tip: If you're heading to Mousetail for car-camping, consider getting campsite 24. It's a bit pricier than other spots ($20/night) because it's designated for RVs, but it backs right into the woods and offers a side trail that takes you right to the Eagle Point trail, probably shaving a mile off of the stem portion. The advantage here is having all of the "glamping" amenities of car camping with the easy trail access of backpacking. During our visit, we had the ENTIRE campground to ourselves.

Shelter 1, Mousetail Landing Eagle Point Overnight Trail
Shelter 1 on the Overnight Trail

Mousetail Landing - Dead tree along Eagle Point Overnight Trail
This sparse tree stood out in one the rockier sections of the trail. According to the rangers, rattlesnakes have been seen in this section.

Mousetail Landing State Park, view of Lick Creek
Here's a view from the trail of Lick Creek near its juncture with the Tennessee River.

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