When I got to the end of the Wildcat Trail/beginning of Ore Pit Loop Trail and looked at the trail map, I quickly realized that the trail was going to be longer than the 0.9-mi listed on the Montgomery Bell State Park website. So I turned on my Hiking Project app and kept the GPS tracker running for the entire loop. Final mileage total: 1.7-mi.
Ore Pit Loop Trail is so named because iron ore was discovered in what is now Montgomery Bell State Park back in the early 1800s. Mining the iron ore is what’s caused the pits in the earth surrounding the trail, but the Civil War caused the mining to cease and it never picked back up again. The result is that the loop is much more varied in terms of topography than the previous two trails, and you get more of a workout.
Part of the loop follows the Montgomery Bell Overnight Trail, which is a little over 10-mi loop with three overnight shelters along the way. I’ve actually never hiked the Overnight Trail, but it’s on my bucket-list for 2018, for sure. While the trails were combined, I passed by McAdow Cabin, which is a replica of the log cabin owned by Reverend Samuel McAdow, the founder of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. There were also several signs for the Bell Ringer 25K/50K ultra marathon, which had me worried for a little bit that I would be hiking and all of a sudden runners would appear out of nowhere to trample me. Thankfully, the race happened at the beginning of December and they just hadn’t removed the signs yet.
Like the Wildcat Trail, this hike was also incredibly muddy, but for a much longer stretch of trail. I was so thankful I had extra shoes waiting for me back at the car, because driving home in my mud-caked boots would have been such a mess. Even with the mud, though, this is definitely a trail I would recommend to others. You get a great view of the park with only moderate difficulty.