Cumberland Gap Trail Mix (aka: Dirty Trail Mix)

I live in one of the most amazing locations for hiking, just a short drive away from access to the Appalachian Trail, the Smokey Mountain National Park, and dozens of other beautiful trails and waterfalls. That’s not to mention all the greenways, parks, and bike paths that run through this city. Everyone seems to be active here.

A group of friends from church recently decided to drive up to the Cumberland Gap for a picnic and day of hiking. It was beautiful.

We traveled to an enormous sand cave…


And the view from the top was amazing.

But the thing about a 10 mile mountain hike is that at some point, you’re going to get hungry. You’re going to need fuel, and that fuel is preferably going to contain lots of protein. This is what I had in mind while putting together this trail mix. Soy beans and chickpeas are protein rock stars at 8 grams and 7 grams of protein per 1/2 cup respectively, while still remaining relatively low in fat and calories and high in dietary fiber. In other words, they’re going to keep you going much longer than a chocolate bar and without any sugar headache.

My PBJ sandwich and plum lunch along with occasional handfuls of trail mix kept me going all day — literally — because a couple of trail setbacks (like losing two members of our group, oops) meant that we were gone on this trip from 7am – 10pm! (Don’t worry, we found our friends again.)

But while we sat around the parking lot, anxiously hoping that our friends would stumble out of the brush at any moment, everyone around me began passing the time by talking about food. While they were describing the greasy bacon cheeseburgers they couldn’t wait to pick up on the way home, I felt perfectly fine. Not hungry, not full, just very neutral which is exactly how you want to feel on a 10-mile hike.

One more thing. You might be wondering why I’ve titled this “Dirty Trail Mix?”


Here’s a word of advice. When your soy beans and chickpeas come out of the oven you will be excited. You’ll pop a few into your mouth and think “this stuff is great!” and you’ll want to try it all together. Please restrain yourself and don’t add the chocolate chips until you’re certain that the mix has cooled! Otherwise you’ll get melted chocolate all over the place (Dirty Trail Mix). *sigh* I really wasn’t thinking that one through.

Since my dirty trail mix wasn’t pretty enough to entice my trail mates (understandably), I have plenty leftover. I’ve been eating it a small saucer-full at a time straight from the freezer. Along with a hot mug of lemon tea, this is a nice after school pick-me-up.


Cumberland Gap Trail Mix (aka: Dirty Trail Mix)



  • 1 (10oz) package soy beans
  • 1 (14.5oz) can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips




Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Mix soy beans, chickpeas, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl until evenly coated. Pour onto a foil-lined baking sheet and spread the beans out so that they are not overlapping.

Bake for 1hour, until the insides are tender and the outsides are slightly crisp. Set aside and cool completely.

Combine the soybeans and chickpeas with remaining ingredients. Gently stir to combine. Store in an airtight container.