South Cumberland Plateau’s Small-Town Haven: Tracy City, TN
Nestled in the heart of the South Cumberland Plateau near popular destinations like Foster Falls and The Caverns, Tracy City, Tenn., is the ideal location for a quiet weekend getaway full of hiking and must-see spots.
The story of Tracy City is full of rich character and scenic landscapes. Once rooted in coal mining, subtle clues of the town’s past are scattered about in the shape of relic coke ovens, miner trails, and celebrated statues amid lush forests and pristine rivers. Use our trusted itinerary of noteworthy restaurants and outdoor activities to explore Tracy City. These locations are perfect for a day or weekend outing.
Dutch Maid Bakery
Start your journey on a sweet note at Tennessee’s oldest family-owned bakery. You’ll feel as if you stepped into your grandmother’s kitchen with a shop full of knickknacks and antiques among a collection of fresh baked cakes, pastries, cookies, and breads. Founded in 1902, the Dutch Maid Bakery is nearly as old as the town itself (and they still use the same recipes!). Be sure to try their famous Tennessee Mountain Moonshine cakes infused with flavors like chocolate, strawberry, java, apple, butterscotch, eggnog, and more.
Fiery Gizzard Trail & Blue Hole – South Cumberland State Park
Now you’re ready to hike Tracy City’s most iconic trail. Between proud pines, a babbling creek, and steep rock outcrops, there is always something around the other bend on this beautiful hike. Best of all, there is swimming at the Blue Hole waterfalls if you need to cool off after a long day. To access the Blue Hole take the 2 mile Grundy Forest Day Loop (review the map to make this excursion shorter without doing the full loop). If you’re feeling more adventurous, take the 12.7 mile trail all the way to Foster Falls – it’s well worth the additional trek! Learn more about this trail and others at the South Cumberland State Park Visitor Center in Monteagle, Tenn.
Bigfoot Adventure & Baggenstoss Farm
This new zipline adventure – set on a beautiful farm that has been in the Baggenstoss Family since the 1800s – features eight zipline courses that will have you zipping through tree lines and over ponds. They even have a shuttle to take eager campers to the Cavern – a hidden gem that the whole family will not want to miss out on while sightseeing.
Mountain Goat Rail-Trail
Start your day exploring the town via foot or bike on a rail-trail that was once used for transporting coal on what was the steepest slope for a railroad line at the time (hence the name “Mountain Goat”). The trail begins just across the street from the Dutch Maid Bakery at Tracy City’s Old Roundhouse Park and winds for three miles, ending near the entrance to Grundy Forest. Another 4-mile section of trail begins next to Mountain Outfitters in Monteagle, Tenn., and ends in Sewanee. Eventually, the Mountain Goat Trail will connect all the communities on the South Cumberland Mountains.
After a busy weekend of sightseeing, Hank’s Corner can quench your appetite with hearty comfort food and beer. The sports bar includes pool, arcade games, and large TVs for watching the game. If you’re starving, make sure to order the Soldier Burger complete with a mouthwatering 9 oz patty between two grilled cheese sandwiches. If the soldier burger is too intimidating, try the Junior Soldier Burger to get the same great taste with less beef.
Other Fun Stops
After your morning walk or run, wind down with some afternoon tea at Tea on the Mountain. The café offers a truly memorable experience with white linen tables, beautiful dishware, and a menu with lunch staples such as quiche, shrimp and grits, and crab cakes. Dinner is another option on the weekends (reservations required). Be sure to stop by some of the quaint shops in Tracy City, including the quaint Olde House Shoppe on Altamont Street and The Depot Emporium, an antique store in the historic section of town on Railroad Ave.
If you’re still looking for more to do, check out Tracy City’s other restaurants and hikes amid the South Cumberland State Park system. The town is the perfect pit stop whether you’re looking for a sweet treat from Dutch Maid bakery before a day hike along the Fiery Gizzard Creek, or want to grab a drink before a concert at The Caverns.
Article by Elaine Elliott