Montgomery Bell State Park – Northeast Loop
60 Hikes within 60 Miles took us this weekend to Montgomery Bell State Park’s Northeast Loop. With the weather finally warming up during this last weekend of February, we opted for a longer trail distance, and the Northeast Loop was a perfect fit.
This trail makes for a good Sunday outing, but you may want to hold off if it’s been raining in previous days. A lot of creek crossing without many good stepping stones could make for a lot of water in your shoes. Unless you’re like Nate… and opt for Chaco sandals as hiking shoes. Trail Rating Summary:
- Scenery: 2.5
- Difficulty: 2.5
- Length: 6 miles
- Dog Friendliness: 5
- Convenience: 2
- Bonus Funtimes: 2
Scenery (2.5 out of 5): This trail has plenty of pretty spots, but lacked the scenic views of many of the other spots we’ve trekked to, even in my novice experience. While the views were limited, there were still plenty of pretty spots, especially at the beginning and end of the trail. A brief interlude in a flatter, pine tree patch broke up the moderately hilly scenery with typical Tennessee trees & vegetation.
Difficulty (2.5 out of 5): There were a few solid hills, but overall the trail wasn’t very difficult. A fair number of tree roots sticking out on the path caused a few trip ups, but no major spills. It took us about 2 hours, including a nice rest break, to finish this trail.
Length: 6 miles
Dog Friendliness (5 out of 5): This is a great trail for dogs. Plenty of water sources make this an easy trail to keep the pups from overheating. Ezra also got to play hunting dog for a few seconds before Nate was able to pull him back to the trail from chasing a mystery critter.
Convenience (2 out of 5): The 45 minute drive time was the only drawback to the convenience of this trail. Aside from the drive, the roads were good with easy directions to follow.
Bonus Points (2 out of 5): Aside from camping, there wasn’t a lot else going on with this trail. If you’re into fishing, this may be a nice little spot. We saw several people casting lines at the small lake that we ran into about 4.5 miles into the hike. This lake, Creech Hollow, made a nice spot to rest up on some tree logs towards the end of the lake. Also in the area was a golf course that we walked next to for a few minutes, sadly without seeing any golfers in audacious pants. The state’s site lists additional activities at Montgomery Bell State Park.
But the trail gets the biggest bonus points for our post-hike lunch at the Twin Lakes Catfish Kitchen, renowned for its contribution to enormous catfish statues. We dropped by mid-afternoon so there wasn’t much of a crowd, but our waitress was immensely personable and the entire place reminded me much of the small town cafes in my grandparents’ hometowns. If you choose to drop by, bring your appetite. The Catfish Kitchen is more than generous with sides, especially homemade hush puppies. And as an added bonus, the waitress, who couldn’t have been older than 21, said, “I’m old fashion, so this is for you,” and handed Nate the bill.