This is a hike I did last August on Monteagle Mountain in central Tennessee. I started in late afternoon and wanted to get done before dark.

Beckwith’s Point Trail is a one way 1.9 mile hike from the trailhead at the entrance to The University of the South to Green’s View overlooking the valley below. After consulting the trail map, I decided to follow Beckwith’s Point Trail to Green’s View and then cut down a 1 mile length of the Perimeter Trail to return back to the trailhead on the 1.6 mile Shakerag Hollow Trail. Total length would be a manageable 3.5 miles round trip.

The Beckwith’s Trail heads left from the trailhead crosses a creek and skirts a golf course before rejoining the woods near a large granite overlook. The trail still splits here: straight ahead a short tenth of a mile to Green’s Overlook or right down a steep and winding stone staircase to the “hollow” below.

I went ahead and checked out the views of the Valley from Green’s View and then backtracked down to the “hollow”. This rocky area was the prettiest part of the hike and led to a green filtered forest below. This part of the trail was narrow, damp, and mostly flat and traversed through a good bit of green undergrowth.

I quickly joined up with the Shakerag Hollow Trail and was enjoying the home stretch of the hike. I remember thinking “look around and enjoy the forest, don’t just look at my next step”, when I heard a loud, sustained rattle immediately in front of me. I jumped back and almost fell over, as a slowly realized that I had almost stepped on a rattlesnake. I backed away about a hundred feet and was amazed to see the largest rattlesnake I had ever seen right in the middle of the trail looking directly at me and rattling away.

As the adrenaline rush from my near death experience abated, I tried to decide what to do. The giant snake appeared to have no intention of leaving the trail and the underbrush around it looked suddenly ominous. I tried throwing some rocks at it, but that didn’t phase it a bit. I saw no other option, but to return by the route I had gotten here.

As it got darker, I ran nervously through the “hollow”, climbed the stone stairs and back down Beckwith’s Point Trail to the trailhead. This added about 2+ miles to the hike but I was extremely happy to make it back to the car.

I’ve hiked this area before without seeing snakes, but I haven’t hiked this area since. rk

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