South Cumberland State Park: Fiery Gizzard Trail (Grundy Forest to Raven Point), Dog Hole Trail, and Grundy Forest Day Loop, Tracy City, Tennessee
South Cumberland State Park is a state park with several tracts scattered throughout the south Cumberland Plateau in Grundy County, Franklin County, and Marion County. Two of these tracts - Grundy Forest State Natural Area and Foster Falls TVA Small Wild Area - serve as the starting and ending point for a dozen-mile long trail that is known as the Fiery Gizzard Trail. The Fiery Gizzard Trail has gained the reputation of being one of the most difficult trails in Tennessee, as it traverses several rocky gorges with rugged terrain. Backpacker Magazine has ranked the Fiery Gizzard Trail in its top 25 hiking trails throughout the US due to the beauty of the gorges encountered on this trail. On this hike, you're going to follow a route that will take you past several waterfalls on Little Fiery Gizzard Creek and Fiery Gizzard Creek before embarking on a very rugged scramble through the gorge. Then, you will ascend out of the gorge to a couple of panoramic vistas of the Fiery Gizzard gorge, before returning to the Grundy Forest Day Loop and seeing more waterfalls on Big Fiery Gizzard Creek. This hike occurred on Saturday, March 12th, 2016. My plan was to first hike the eastern section of Grundy Forest Day Loop. Then, I planned to take the Fiery Gizzard Trail south through the Fiery Gizzard Creek gorge to Raven Point. After visiting Raven Point, I would take the Dog Hole Trail back to the Fiery Gizzard Trail near Grundy Forest Day Loop. I would finish the hike by taking the western half of the Grundy Forest Day Loop.
South Cumberland State Park: Fiery Gizzard Trail - Foster Falls/Climbers Loop and Laurel Gorge Overlook/Laurel Branch, Tracy City, Tennessee
The Fiery Gizzard Trail is one of the most beautiful and diverse trails in the state of Tennessee. Also, Backpacker Magazine lists it in the top 25 trails in the US. The nature in this part of the South Cumberland Plateau is beautiful. The Fiery Gizzard Trail starts on the southern edge of the city limits of Tracy City, and travels for 12 miles through rugged canyons in the Fiery Gizzard Creek watershed to Foster Falls Day Use Area. Foster Falls, a 60-foot single drop waterfall, makes for an exciting end to the trail. This hike occurred on Saturday, August 2nd, 2014. Starting the hike in the Foster Falls Day Use Area, I first checked out the Foster Falls Overlook. Then, I took the Fiery Gizzard Trail to pass above Foster Falls, and continued all the way to Laurel Gorge Overlook. My original plan was to stop here, but I decided to continue and make the rugged descent into the Laurel Branch Gorge. Then, I retraced my steps all the way back to the Climbers Access 2 to the Climbers Access Trail. This rugged trail descends down to Little Gizzard Creek and crosses just below Foster Falls on a swinging bridge, before ascending to the top of the rim and ending at the parking area.
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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