Troop 868 in Action

Mischa Mokwa Trail  (April, 2001)

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The Mischa Mokwa Adventure Trail is not a specific trail but, rather, a route which involves three different trails in the Cumberland Gap National Park.  The beginning trailhead is located at the edge of the Wilderness Road Campground.  Hikers walk approximately 6 miles up the mountain via the Gibson Gap Trail then turn eastward onto the Ridge Trail which runs along the crest of the mountain range.  Along the way, hikers pass near Hensley Settlement, Sand Cave, and the White Rocks overlook.  All of these sites are less than a half-mile detour from the main trail and are well worth the extra steps to visit them.  Past White Rocks, hikers move onto the Ewing Trail for a 100% downhill descent from the mountain top.  The trail ends at Civic Park in Ewing, Virginia.  Though only about 22 miles in length, the Mischa Mokwa Adventure Trail is no easy walk in the woods.  The views are spectacular, but the climb up the mountain is a real challenge, especially for casual hikers.  (Miles 3-6 are the killer stretch!)  For this reason, most Scout groups choose to make it a backpacking trip (as we did).   We'd strongly recommend that groups enforce a strict weight limit on packs.   (About 15 pounds would be reasonable.)  We allowed our guys to carry too much weight and the trail was a real struggle for many of them.  Fortunately, all the guys on this trip were experienced hikers and all were in good physical condition, so we struggled through --- but it was a challenge!  This was one trip which the hikers will be talking about for a long, long time!  (And, yes, seeing Sand Cave made the whole trip worthwhile!).

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Ready for dinner in basecamp the night before.  Pictured L to R are Alex, Paul, Mr. Guzman, Shane,
Mr. Freeman, Sam, Florencio, and James.
At the Gibson Gap trailhead and ready to hit the trail are James, Sam, Paul, Alex, Florencio, Shane, Mr. Guzman, and Mr. Meek (taking the photos).
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Crossing one of several creeks as the trail started off as an easy walk through the woods.   Then about 3 miles in, the climbing began and continued steadily upward for the next 4 miles.
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But once we reached the ridge crest, the view was fantastic.  No, that's not fog --- those are clouds below us!  James treks along the Ridge Trail in the photo at right.
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The climb was rough and the weather was unseasonably warm for early April; temperatures reached the mid-70's.  Rest breaks were frequent, which reduced the group's speed to about one mile an hour.