Hike and Camp on the Volunteer Trail



11 miles

Route Type


Added by Rachel O'Neil

The Volunteer trail is a great 5.5 mile one-way day hike or as a relaxing one night camping trip. This trail has slight increases in elevation as it leaves the shore and climbs up the bluffs overlooking the lake. Plan to enjoy rock gardens, mossy cedar glades, scenic lake views, and even cactus on this 11 mile journey.

Starting at the Bakers Grove Area parking lot, start hiking on the lovely wood chipped trail. The Volunteer Trail and Day Loop share this first section of the trail.

In about .5 miles you will reach a sign and a junction on the trail. Follow the whites blazes on The Volunteer Trail to the right (the Day Loop goes Left with Orange Blazes). A gradual uphill will bring you the 2nd junction of the Day Loop and Volunteer Trail in about 1.3 miles. Turn right at the junction and pass a kiosk.

The trail continues through a rock garden, and for the next few miles you'll pass several rocky coves, beaches, and view points. Some of these beach areas have illegal campsites- tempting, but stop there for a snack and photo opp only. We hiked in the evening so were able to catch a pretty rad sunset (this also meant night hiking - so make sure you are prepared and are using fully charged headlamps).

The trail continues to the east through another rock garden, and through a mossy cedar grove. Just beyond that you'll reach the primitive campsite. There is a large fire ring, with stump benches, and plenty of tent and hammock spots. Stop here for the night, or a break and then take the same trail back to the parking lot for a total of 11 miles.

A few notes about the Volunteer Trail:
This trail is great as a day hike, or as an overnight. Either way, please Leave No Trace. Although this trail is isolated, there can be a lot of litter that washes up on the shore. Please play your part and pick up a few pieces to pack out.

The Volunteer Trail and Day Loop are becoming quite popular. Don't let a full parking lot deter you: most people hike the Day Loop so you can enjoy a quiet Volunteer Trail.

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Known for

Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Swimming Hole



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Lovely Place, In Unlovely Surroundings

The park itself is beautiful. But between the people who trash it beyond belief and how well you can hear "the outside world" anywhere on the hike it lessens the enjoyment. Still, it's a great one night, chill sort of hike and waking up at dawn to look over the lake is almost worth any of the bad.

Fun Intermediate Hike

Brisk hike with lots of rock formation and gorgeous views of the lake. Take care for the Prickly Pear Cactus that grow alongside the trail in certain locations! One thing you may want to be aware of - if you are looking for a quiet, peaceful hike, you may want to avoid this trail on holidays during the summer months. The trail runs right along Percy Priest Lake for much of the time and boaters like to anchor nearby - especially at "Party Cove." Loud music and revelers can make it feel like you've been invited to the party, too.

Beautiful Views

Great intermediate hike along the volunteer trail. Prepare for gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, however beware that the trail runs directly under the airplane travel area and you'll get lots of overhead noise. Otherwise a great hike! We'll be back!

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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