Cincinnati Weekend Getaway: Cumberland Gap National Historic Park
Want to get away, but short on time? We get it, and we have a few suggestions. You don’t have to go far to get away from it all! Here is a weekend itinerary that includes mountain views, small-town eats, a gnarly cave, and a perfect campground for you to call home base. Book your weekend at Aclipse Campervans and let’s head south to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park.
To make the most of the weekend, leave Friday after work. This is about a three and a half hour drive. Add “Cumberland Gap” to your playlist, it will quickly become a singalong for the rest of the trip.
Wilderness Road Campground, is a secret gem of a place at 854 National Park Rd Ewing VA 24248. Book a site without electric $14 (van has solar). Reservations can be made, (606)248-2817. I liked the F loop, but all sites are wooded and spread out for privacy. Campground includes, bathrooms, drinking water, and my favorite, free hot showers. The campground, park, and our van are pet-friendly so, you don’t have to leave your four legged friend behind. We camped here at the end of July, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it cooled down to low 60’s at night. Perfect weather for a blanket and a campfire, which is how I suggest you start your first night.
Day 1: If you set up camp the night before and are eager to hit the trails, several trails leave from the campground. I ran Gibson Gap while I was there. This trail was very peaceful, moderate to hilly and takes you through a variety of woods and scenery, making the effort, very worthwhile. If you want to ease into your day, (COFFEE PLEASE!) make some in the van, or head to Gap Creek Coffee House. Here you can get a variety of caffeine fixes as well as a quick bite for breakfast or lunch. Staff is not short on southern hospitality. However, don’t stay too long, Pinnacle Point gets busy later in the day. You can drive right up to Pinnacle Point or stop at Iron Furnace or Thomas Walker parking area and hike up. From the view you can see three states it is considered the best view in the park. There are a few hikes out of Thomas Walker Parking Area with varying distances and difficulty. Cumberland Gap Visitor’s Center is not far from here. There you can book a cave tour or find out about local events. The cave tour is awesome, allow 2 hours for this. If you need to refuel, head to Middlesboro. There you will find Kroger, Safeway, along with, fast-food chains if you need to stop.
Day 2: Drive out to Wilderness Road State Park. It is a great place to see the mountains and all their glory. If you are lucky, you can catch reenactors at the settlement just behind the visitor’s center. The wilderness trail cuts through the park here. Flat, shaded, ideal for dogs, bike riding, (which you can rent from the visitor’s center) and buffalo can be spotted from this trail.
From the parking lot you can see White Rocks, which is where I suggest heading next. Pack some food and plenty of water, this hike is a dozy! It is my favorite in the park. Pick up the trail in Ewing, VA. The hike is steep to the top, but the view from White Rocks is lovely. Once you have gone to the top of white rocks head over to the sand cave for a glimpse at the waterfall and giant sand cave. The sand cave is a great place to rest and take in the Mars like surface of the cave’s ceiling. After we made our descent back to the car I was ready for my favorite recovery food, Pizza. We headed straight for Angelo’s In The Gap. The pizza is great after a long day of hiking and the staff is happy to take care of you.