Tag: TripReport

Trip Report: Greeter Falls Trail, Big Creek Rim, Big Creek Gulf, Ranger Falls

The Description

Today we hiked out in one of our favorite hiking areas, the Savage Gulf State Natural Area. Because we hike out in this area a lot, we decided to hike a little different route than normal. We started in the Greeter Falls parking area and hiked the Greeter Falls Trail –> Alum campground –> Big Creek Rim Trail –> Stone Door –> Big Creek Gulf trail –> Ranger Falls and then back to Greeter Falls trailhead.

The Hike

Rain was falling as we put boots on trail at 7:30am central time. The Greeter Falls trail is a rolling, 1.5 mile trail from Greeter Falls parking lot to Alum campground. There are a couple nice overlooks right on the trail so it’s pretty easy to check them out.

Trailhead selfies! Bluffs on Greeter Falls trail

After Alum campground, Big Creek Rim trail is ~3.5 miles of gently rolling trail. There are 3 (?) overlooks with the best ones coming first after leaving Alum campground. This section of the trail is probably the most boring section so the decision to hike our hike in the direction and order we did it was to get this section of the trail out of the way at the beginning of the hike so we’d have interesting stuff to look forward to at the end of our hike. We made good time from Alum campground to the bluffs at the top of Stone Door.

Untitled View from the Stone Door bluffs

After a quick break at the bluffs, we started our descent along Big Creek Gulf trail down to the bottom of the mountain to the old river bed. We made good time down even though there are some rock fields and they were wet; nobody fell and only a few slips!

I was trying a new load out with my gear this trip. Normally, I hike with my 2 liter water bladder but this time, I decided to hike with only a 1 liter bottle and my Sawyer Squeeze water filter. The idea being, I’d just filter water once we hit some water sources. It was really hot and muggy and we were making haste to Ranger Falls so I could filter water because I ran out! As we’re hiking along the old riverbed, we heard some flowing/falling water. Meredith volunteered to scamper over and fill up my new CNON water container so I could filter some water. Yay for Meredith aka, Spooky Raccoon!

Ranger Falls was amazing as usual. A difference on this trip than the last two we’ve done here is that we saw a lot more people. We’ve never saw any other people at Ranger Falls but this time we ended up seeing three.

Ranger Falls!

Once you leave Ranger Falls and hike back out to Big Creek Gulf trail, there are some climbs that I always seem to forget about and I remembered thinking that this was more elevation than I remembered previously! Another mile down the trail takes you to another interesting place to take a break if you’re so inclined and we’re always inclined to relax near water when hiking.

Big Creek break spot

After leaving the second spot, we hiked along next to the river with Meredith making happy noises behind me. As we hiked up and away from the river, the happy noises ceased and the groaning started from the both of us because it was getting hotter and more muggy. Eventually, the trail and river meet back up for just a few minutes before making a hard right and kicking up the side of the mountain for the final climb back up to to Alum campground.

Start of the climb up to Alum campground

The climb was difficult as we were doing it during the hottest part of the day – around 2:30pm. Additionally, we’re making our ascent after hiking over 10 miles already. We paused frequently but ended up doing the climb in 22 minutes – only 3 minutes slower than our previous effort. I’ll take it for a super hot day.

Once we climbed back up to Greeter Falls Trail and started our way back to the Greeter Falls parking lot, we were pretty exhausted. We had originally planned to go down and check out Greeter Falls, and maybe go for a dip but we were too tired and just wanted to finish and go eat some burritos. Anyhoo, below are some of my favorite photos. 🙂

Untitled Spooky Raccoon!!! Moose Tracks at the bluffs! Lil salamander! Going downnnnnn Weirdly colored fungus! A big ole toad! Meredith is not pleased about the heat and the climbing 😆

Trip Report: Cumberland Trail Laurel-Snow SNA Section

Edit 07/28/2019 8:49pm: Meredith wanted me to edit this and let everyone know chiggers are bad here 😆

Distance: 12.97 miles
Elevation: 2,177 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous
Strava Track: https://www.strava.com/activities/2568385320
Full Route Name: Cumberland Trail Laurel-Snow SNA Section: Laurel Falls, Dunn Overlook, Snow Falls, Buzzard Point.

This section of the Cumberland Trail is really one of my favorite hikes and certainly ranks up there with Stone Door for me so I was pleased when Meredith suggested we do this hike again and we decided to hike every bit of the trail for this section.

The trailhead for this hike is located in Dayton, TN. Both Waze and Google Maps will take you straight there without any issues if you search for Laurel Snow State Natural Area. It’s about 150 miles from Nashville so we tried to get on the road by 5:30am. We managed to get boots on trail by 8am.

The first mile or so of the hike is lovely as it parallels Richland Creek which makes for a pleasant experience. The water flows fast and heavy enough that there’s a nice river sound and the temp is pleasant as you’re hiking along the trail.

Richland Creek
Richland Creek

The trail turns away from Richland Creek, climbs a little and then crosses Laurel Creek as you’re making your way through the holler over to Laurel Falls. As we turned away from the river, the humidity started to come on so we were glistening by the time we crossed Laurel Creek to negotiate this weird little natural feature that I’m negotiating below.

Negotiating this feature thing!
Negotiating this feature thing!

There’s some elevation after crossing Laurel Creek and I always seem to forget about this part but we made decent time and was pleasantly surprised by nice water flow at the falls. I really expected the water level to be low since it’s the end of July.

Laurel Falls!

Meredith played in the water while I had a snack and relaxed with the view of the waterfall. After our break at the falls, we headed back down, through the holler and to Laurel Creek bridge. We took the other fork to make our way towards Dunn Overlook, Snow Falls and Buzzard Point. Before taking the other fork, we both struck a pose with a little waterfall; Meredith nailed it.

Striking a pose!

After the fork you make your way by the camp site area and come to a big ole metal bridge to cross over what has now turned into Henderson Creek before beginning your assault on the mountain. And by assault, I mean walking slowly up the side of a mountain, in the humidity while trying not to have a heart attack or heat stroke. Isn’t this fun? I like to say assault because it makes me feel more badass.

A steel bridge! Big metal bridge!

After the Henderson Creek bridge, you start the climb. Strava has a segment labeled as Rogers Road Climb for this part of the trail. As we started our ascent up the mountain, I was feeling pretty good and wanted to see if we could improve on our time from when we did this on May 31. We made great time and only paused once for a quick fiver. We did this climb on May 31st in 1 hour 29 minutes. On this trip, we did it in 46 minutes. We’re definitely not going to break any land speed records but we got a lot better and faster and that feels nice. 🙂

At the top of Rogers Road Climb

At the top of the climb we took the right fork to head to Dunn Overlook. This section isn’t hiked very much it seems and it’s definitely spider web season. Normally, I’m ok just plowing through the webs but I get a little more jumpy when there are spiders in them *shivers*! This section of the trail, all the way to Snow Falls, is more overgrown than the rest of the trail and there’s a fair amount of brambles, stickers and briars so that’s not super fun. From Dunn Overlook you can see the top of Laurel Falls and Buzzard Point. There are some power lines here but I thought it was still pretty cool.

Dunn Overlook

After a quick break, we ambled our way in the general direction of Snow Falls, fighting spider webs the entire way. On the way to Snow Falls, you have to cross over Morgan Creek. The last time we did this, the water level was low enough that we could hop along on the rocks without getting wet but today the water was too high for that so we got our feet wet! When this happens, I like to tell everyone we had to ford a river! Again, this makes me feel more badass.

We had to ford a river!

We took lunch at Snow Falls because it was so much more pleasant than the last time we were here. There was lots of flowing water and the levels were pretty high. The only minor bummer about this falls is that the trail takes you to the top of the falls and this lazy, tired hiker couldn’t find a way to the bottom.

Top of snow falls Top of snow falls again

We ate food and Meredith ran around to play in the water like usual. I filtered some water for the first time and it worked great! This was such a pleasant break and it was hard to get back up and head out but by this time we were starting to talk a lot about eating Mexican food and Ubereats doesn’t deliver to Snow Falls in Dayton, TN last time I checked.

Top of snow falls

After leaving Snow Falls and crossing back over Morgan Creek, we backtracked to the access road that goes to Buzzard Point and took that all the way to the point. This was a nice section and is flat and we made good time over to the point.

I did want to take a moment to point something out. Both on AllTrails and on Strava (I presume they use the same underlaying map data), they show there being a trail going from Snow Falls to the access road but that trail just doesn’t exist. In the screenshot below, the left screenshot is the real actual map from the CT website. The screenshot on the right is the incorrect data from AllTrails, Strava etc. The arrow points to the non-existent trail. Please plan accordingly.

This section of the trail doesn't exist.

We hustled to Buzzard Point and talked with a couple who had hiked up to the top. After snapping a few photos, we started back down the mountain with burritos on our minds.

Arriving at buzzard point Buzzard Point view

This next part of our hike is the worst part of every hike because now we’re just walking back to the car so we can get food. We made pretty good time and no doubt, the idea of eating food was driving us. We found a local Mexican place in Dayton and both ate burritos as big as our heads. It was heavenly.

This was a super great hike and I do recommend this to others. It’s a long hike but also pretty rewarding. I do think it’s strenuous because of the climb and because of the length. Anywho, below are some more photos.

Pre hike selfie is a must! And up we go! Departing snow falls Thinking deep thoughts and shit This one though Untitled

Trip Report: Stone Door Trail, Big Creek Gulf Trail, Ranger Falls, Big Creek Rim

I really love the Savage Gulf area and hiking these series of trails. After last week’s disaster of an effort, I needed something familiar yet challenging so I could prove that I’m still a hiker. I tell you guys, last week really shook my confidence. This week, we decided to hike Stone Door Trail to Big Creek Gulf to Ranger Falls to Big Creek Rim and then back to Stone Door. Strava recorded it as a bit over 11 miles.

We arrived at the trailhead and had boots on trail by 7:30am. The hike through the stone door and down to the Big Creek Gulf trail was super muggy, wet and sweaty. There’s a couple rock fields during the descent but they weren’t wet enough to cause any problems. Meredith will tell you but I descend and negotiate rocks like an old man with sore knees but I still feel we made good time.

Stone Door!
Stone Door from the bottom
Tying my dang shoe and steaming!!
Steaming though…

Once at the bottom, we hightailed it over to Ranger falls and stopped for refueling and for a Meredith-play-in-the-water session. The water level for Ranger Falls was lower than it was the first time we came through this year but still plenty of flow and the water was good and cold.

Ranger Falls
Ranger Falls you guys!
Meredith playing in Ranger Falls
My normal view of water falls…
Spooky raccoon
Spooky Raccoon turned Rambo

Once we cooled off, we headed back to Big Gulf Creek trail and headed down for another mile to take our lunch and another cool off session at a nice pool and area of semi-swift water. I’m not sure if it actually has a name or even what the name of the river is there but it’s the second favorite part of the hike for me. Again, Meredith played in the water and I took off my boots to cool and rest my feet. In retrospect, I think we hung out here too long as I was feeling like I could take a nap at one point.

Lunch spot!
Lunch spot!

After getting back on the trail, it wasn’t too long until it’s time to make the ascent up to Alum gap campground. This is the section I had been preparing and waiting for and I was determined to make a good ascent. This ascent has some grades at 30% according to Strava and it’s about .5 miles to the top. On the ascent, I felt great and was ascending at a good pace that I could have kept up for a good long time.

And now we go up!
And now we go up!
That's where we came from!
That’s where we came from!

Once back at the top, we pushed on to Big Creek Rim trail and had scenic but otherwise uneventful hike back to Stone Door Ranger Station.

Taking a fiver!
Taking a fiver!
Nice views on Big Creek Rim Trail
Nice views on Big Creek Rim Trail
Heading to the rim!
Heading to the rim!
Proof of life! I made it!
Proof of life! I made it!

Last week I tried a new hiking clothes configuration. On the right, I’m wearing hiking pants and a hiking/travel shirt. The idea in making the change was that I’d be more protected from brambles and ticks and such. On the left is the current setup and one I wore Saturday on our hike. I think the clothing situation was the single biggest thing contributing to my problems on the trail while hiking Fiery Gizzard. I still need to change the shorts again as these did cause some chaffing that I didn’t notice until I was home. I’m going to try a pair of running shorts with a tights/compression type liner.

Clothing changes!

Fiery Gizzard Trail to Raven Point Trip Report

The crew!
The crew, pre-hike selfie!

Many reviews on AllTrails mentions hiking the trail counter clockwise because of the rock fields and I’d have to agree 100% with this idea. I’m a big guy and the focus and balance required to hike on rocks for nearly 4 miles is pretty challenging. Doing this while you’re fresh is best.rock fields and I’d have to agree 100% with this idea. I’m a big guy and the focus and balance required to hike on rocks for nearly 4 miles is pretty challenging. Doing this while you’re fresh is best.

Sycamore Falls
Sycamore Falls

The first part of the hike was pretty lovely. The trail is scenic and goes along the river which makes for pleasant viewing and temps. The rock fields don’t seem so bad at first and I was kind of wonder what the big deal was about all the reviews. It turns out that hiking on rocks for a couple hours wears me out. There’s a certain amount of mental focus and balance and concentration required to do that type of hiking. It was bothering my knees and I have to pick my way carefully.

Since we were hiking along the river, I knew we had to do a big climb to get up to the top of the mountain so we could get to Raven Point. The climb up the mountain was pretty severe. Easiest the hardest and most severe climb for me this hiking season and we’ve hiked Stone Door down to Ranger Falls and back out and Virgin Falls.

These are the new clothes I was wearing on the hike.

I recently decided to try a different clothing setup – pictured above. I have been hiking in gym shorts and my sleeveless, merino wool shirt that I use for cycling. The shirt very light weight and probably the best piece of clothing I own. The reason I wanted to switch to hiking pants and a hiking/travel shirt was mostly for protection from brambles, ticks and the sun. Making this change during the middle of the summer hiking season turned out to be a huge mistake. After taking our lunch at Raven Point and heading back along the ridge, I was overheating and just couldn’t cool off. It caused me to hike very slow, slowing down my hiking partners. I was feeling nauseous and even got sick a few times. The hike back took a lot longer than it ought have.

As we were getting close to the end of our hike, we started coming across swimming holes and we decided to get in the water to get cooled off and it helped tremendously. We should have done this at the very first opportunity. My take away from this is that anytime Meredith says get in the water, I’m just going to do it, no questions asked.

After our dip we started hiking the last mile or so back when the cherry on top happened. As Meredith will tell you, I roll my ankles and they do so for no good reason. Most of the time it’s a little twist and awkwardly catching myself and we carry on like nothing happened. I guess I was so tired and was mid step when it happened this time that I took a tumble and started tumbling down the side of the trail embankment. It was happening in slow motion for everyone who was involved and witnessing it. Ugh.

I’d definitely rank this hike as difficult and strenuous; at least it was for me. I’m not sure how much of that was because I was experiencing some heat exhaustion. I intend to this hike again this season. I came away feeling embarrassed with my confidence shaken. I would recommend this hike to hikers as I think it’s definitely some of the best hiking in TN, right there with Virgin Falls and the Stone Door trails. I’ll be back Fiery Gizzard.

Little copperhead
Little copperhead!
Post hike selfie!
Post hike selfie. Ha ha.
Raven Point
Raven Point