THE ROUTE

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What is the Mountain Goat Trail?

From 1856 to 1985, the Mountain Goat Railroad carried coal and passengers between Palmer and Cowan in Grundy and Franklin Counties of the Cumberland Plateau. It was named the Mountain Goat because the climb onto the Plateau was one of the steepest railroad ascents in the world.

Now, the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance is seeking to reclaim the path of the railroad. Working with local governments and other interested groups, the Alliance’s mission is to turn the old railroad bed into a multiuse recreational path. When finished, the 35-plus-mile trail will connect seven towns in two counties, offering health, recreational, and economic benefits to the area.

How much of the Trail is accessible now?

The section in green above, between Sewanee and Monteagle, is paved and accessible. This almost five-mile stretch sees consistent use from walkers, runners, cyclists, and canine friends.

Where can the Trail be accessed?

The paved section of the trail begins in downtown Sewanee and ends at the Dollar General store in Monteagle.

The best place to park in Sewanee is in the gravel lot  on Highway 41A at Hawkins Lane. Here’s a Google map that might be helpful. (The Mountain Goat Trail in Sewanee is part of the 20+-mile Perimeter Trail around the University Domain, which is why it’s labeled that way on this map.)

In Monteagle, we recommend parking at Mountain Outfitters, and crossing the Dollar General parking area to access the Trail.

What is the next phase of the Mountain Goat Trail?
 The Downtown Tracy City section of the Trail (in aqua above) is due to begin construction in 2017. This section, made possible by a Transportation Alternatives Grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, will follow the Mountain Goat Railroad railbed from Tracy City Elementary School into and around the historic downtown area of Tracy City.

Next, the Tracy City Phase 2 section of the Trail (in pink above) is due to begin construction in late 2017. This section, made possible by a Recreational Trails Program Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, will follow the Mountain Goat Railroad railbed from Tracy City Elementary School west to Ingman Farm Road, the boundary between Tracy City and Monteagle.

Finally, the Monteagle-Tracy City section of the Trail (in aqua above) is due to begin construction in early 2018. This section, made possible by a Project Diabetes Grant from the State of Tennessee Department of Health, will follow the Mountain Goat Railroad railbed from Ingman Farm Road to the DuBose Conference Center at Highway 41A in Monteagle.

6 Comments

  1. Is there a plan to complete the trail from where it abruptly ends at Dollar General to cross I-24 and come on into downtown Monteagle?

    • Yes, the MGTA is partnering with the Town of Monteagle on a plan to connect the Trail through that area. We are also working with Dollar General on a near-term plan to connect through to the Mountain Outfitters parking lot. Thanks for your interest!

  2. Is the planned trail section from Sewanee to Cowan clear enough to be hiked at the present time without “bushwhacking”

    • The Sewanee-Cowan section is privately owned and not open to the public. There is fencing blocking the railbed.

  3. We just tried that section yesterday and were disappointed at the gate! Are there any plans for the owner to allow access. It was such a beautiful trail, and a cool way to get to Cowan.

    And, how can we get to the Cowan tunnel?

    • Sorry about your visit — the MGTA is negotiating with CSX Railroad and the landowners along the route to acquire the railbed and construct trail. As of now, none of the railbed between Sewanee and Cowan is open to the public.

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