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Rock/Creek Upchuck 50k

The 7th race in Rock/Creek Trail Series
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 31 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  The Upchuck 50K is a wilderness trail run/race on the Cumberland Trail just outside of Chattanooga based on the experience of 2 local ... more »

Tips:  This is not a beginner's race. Do not attempt unless you are experienced and prepared.

Pay attention to course markings especially... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Race HQ

You will meet here and check in on raceday. The race organizers will bus you to the start. The only way back to your car is to keep moving and survive.

2. Rock Creek Section Trailhead at Lower Leggett Road

The fun begins here. Seriously, there is a great creek along the first half of this section with miles of wilderness. This is a nice spot to walk and explore with the family. This portion of the trail is called the Rock Creek Access Trail and has blue blazes until you reach the Cumberland Trail.

3. Signs and Markers

The CT has signs and markers all over the place so pay attention. Many turns have arrows with or without a Main Trail sign. I ran the course for first time and had only one confusing intersection at beginning. Entire course is signed and very well marked. Pay attention at intersections and then confirm you are on trail by use of white blazes.

4. Rock Creek Access Trail

The first section of trail is 1.2 miles long and is called the Rock Creek Access Trail. There are blue blazes on this section. You will cross a couple of small bridges while following the course of Rock Creek. There are some side trails leading to creek and this area is well-used so look for blazes. It is flat at the start and then gets into some ... More

5. The CT Bridges

Throughout the entire route you will periodically cross bridges both wooden and fiberglass. There are old, new and primitive bridges.

6. Plants and Animals

We only saw 1 deer all day. Granted it was August and 90 degrees, but we also saw a few lizards and toads and plantlife and trees and more trees and even more trees. Lots of mushrooms and fungus and stuff like that. Under many of the cliffs there were lots of spider traps in the loose dirt.

7. The Cumberland Trail

2 intersections on this initial section. Both are part of Rock Creek Loop. Stay left and head downhill at first and go left and across bridge of Boiling Springs, at second. By the way, this bridge is the first of 3 mediums.

8. 2 Small, 3 Medium and 1 Large

I like knowing where I am on the trail. Think of it this way...You cross 2 or 3 small bridges before 3 medium sized bridges over Boiling Springs, Flat Branch and Rocky Branch. Finally you arrive at a large fiberglass bridge over Rock Creek.

9. Rock Creek Bridge

Your first large bridge of the day spans Rock Creek. This 80-foot fiberglass bridge has a nice swimming hole down to left. On the day I ran it we did course in reverse and cooled off in creek below.

You've got a nice climb out of this gorge, there's even a ladder.

10. Retro-Hughes into Possum Creek Section

Your first road crossing is at the completion of Rock Creek Section. Now it's onto Possum Section. Pretty straight forward crossing, look almost directly across road and there's the trail. This next 3.4 of miles of trail is fairly mundane. A winding trail through pine forest.

11. ATV Trail

There is a sharp downhill that drops you onto an ATV trail. Turn right to Little Possum Creek crossing, no bridge. Cross over and pick back up the trail. There are some intersecting trails here so confirm where you are going with signs and blazes. There is a small CT sign with arrow on far side of creek.

12. Concrete Bridge

You pop out on a dirt road. Turn left downhill towards creek. Cross concrete road over culverts and keep right around corner. Look for trail on right just 50 yards or so up road after turn. This turn is easy to miss if you are not paying attention. You will soon be running along creek so if you are not back in woods and following blazes, you... More

13. Old Strip Mine Section

This section of trail has several unique features. First, is an old mining road from a strip mining operation in the 1950's. Second, there are some dangerous and remote rapids in the creek to your right for expert kayakers only. And finally, some interesting climbs and descents along the way including stone steps and water running across the trail... More

14. Imodium

Not long after concrete bridge you will pass Imodium Falls. I know you have a long way to go, but this is what makes this trail superb. Stop and have a look at this C chaped waterfall. For the majority of runners a minute or two of rest and scenery will do more good. Expert kayakers give this a go when the water is right.

15. Little Possum Creek

Another fiberglass bridge. Just remember, if you go downhill into a gorge, you've got to climb out. And this is a sharp one.

16. Climb out of Possum

Nice set of steps and rock work in this section.

17. Perkins Point

There are a few overlooks along route. You'll see a side trail to your right with a yellow blaze. Perkins Point awaits you. Take a breather and enjoy the day.

18. Big Possum Bridge and Climb

Around the point and along a cliffline and back into another creek, this time Big Possum and another fiberglass bridge. Get ready for another climb. This is another great section of trail. Yes, uphill, but there is a really great rock wall. Only about 1.5 miles to civilization.

19. Hidden Waterfall

The CTC trail guide mentions this waterfall. It is not easy to find, but is worth the little bit of bushwacking if you like waterfalls. Just as you come around the corner of the point you begin to hear the creek on your left below. I could see the golden or brown rocks below (iron runoff from mining). The falls are tiered and the final drop or... More

20. Heiss Mtn Rd Approach

The approach to Heiss Mtn Rd is a favorite of mine. A bridge, rocks, climb and waterfall all in a compact section of trail. If looking for a day-hike, this section is really cool and easy for the family. And since you are beside a creek for a mile or so there's water for your dog.

21. Heiss Mtn Rd

Finally, civilization. A short climb up stone steps brings you to the one and only aid station on race day at Heiss Mtn Rd. A right turn, follow guardrail and you will be at Jones Gap Road and 'the store.'

22. American Trading Post and Grill

This is the Upchuck store at Jones Gap and Heiss Mtn Roads. Get some grub. Then a left onto Jones Gap Road and crossover Hwy 111. If looking to re-create the Upchuck moment, a couple of hotdogs, a cold beer and ice cream should have you barfing on Hwy 111.

23. Highway 111

How often are you directed to run along a highway. Well, this is your lucky day because there's no other way to get back on the trail. Take a right down off ramp and follow 111 until past the Jones Gap 1/2 mile exit sign. Then a left up into grass right where concrete culvert begins. It's easy to find, I promise.

24. Fence and Steps

Okay, off the highway and back into the woods. A run along the fenceline and over a set of wooden steps. This next section is kind of easy and scenic along a creek.

25. Run along Boardcamp creek. Easy section

This section is easy. A nice run along a creek. Fairly level, shaded, and comfortable. There's a section of old road and mining here so watch your blazes.

26. Big Soddy Creek Crossing

Only 1 more to go. There are a couple of crossings with no bridges. There were trees blocking the trail on the day we were out and we just looked across for markers and went for it.

27. Deep Creek Crossing and Trail

Last creek. This next trail section is rocky and technical all the way to Hotwater Road.

28. Rock Harvesting

Apparently the mining rights are owned by a company which came in and bull-dozed the trail, took the rocks underneath, and then either never repaired trail or just plain stunk at it.

29. Coal Mine

A genuine coal mine. Certainly not what I expected.

30. Danger, Danger - Hotwater Road

Out of the woods and onto pavement. You are now leaving the CT. You come down a very steep hill. Do not cross road. Turn left. All street from here on in. A guy missed this turn last year and kept going down CT. The search centered on course. He was off course and was found, luckily, by hikers early in evening. Watch for course markings at all... More

31. The Road In

Just in case you are making it official...Hotwater to Back Valley Rd, right turn, to next intersection, Durham St and left. Follow Durham to left into park after Depot St. If lost, you are looking for Senior Center near Ball Park. Food and beer await you. Congratulations.