Hiking is a thrilling way to immerse yourself in nature, and South Cumberland State Park in Tennessee offers some of the most breathtaking trails in the region. From scenic overlooks to stunning waterfalls, this park boasts an array of landscapes that cater to hikers of all levels. Here are the top four hiking trails in South Cumberland State Park that are bound to leave you in awe:
1. Fiery Gizzard Trail
12.5 miles | Out-and-Back | Difficult
The Fiery Gizzard Trail is known for its challenging terrain, stretching over 12 miles and connecting Grundy Forest to the famous Foster Falls. The trail is beautiful but challenging, with multiple spots to stop and enjoy the scenery.
While hiking, you will come across waterfalls, streams, swimming holes, and rock formations. The trail is almost 13 miles long, and it is recommended that you leave plenty of time to make the trek.
If you don’t have an entire day to explore, we recommend taking the day loop or the Foster Falls trail, allowing you to slow down and enjoy the hike. At the end of the trail, there is an option for shuttle rides back to your car, so you don’t have to worry about how you will return at the end of the day.
2. Foster Falls Trail
0.6 Miles | Out-and-Back | Moderate
For a shorter but equally captivating hike, the Foster Falls Trail is a must-visit. This 1.5-mile loop trail leads to the breathtaking 60-foot Foster Falls, a popular spot for climbers and nature enthusiasts alike. The trail meanders through a forested area and opens up to the stunning overlook of the falls, providing a picture-perfect setting for a peaceful hike.
As you approach the falls, you will find yourself at a steep downhill slope leading to a rope suspension bridge that crosses the river. Once you’re on the other side, you can enjoy the view of the falls from a viewing area.
Depending on the weather and the time of the year, the falls will vary in flow, but this area is breathtaking even without the rushing falls. At all times during the year, the large swimming pool is deep and backs up to towering cliffs. It is like your own hidden-away oasis.
If you’re interested in rock climbing, you can continue straight after crossing the suspension bridge and find numerous climbing walls. No matter which route you choose to take, the journey to Foster Falls will be memorable.
3. Stone Door Trail
1.9 Miles | Out-and-Back | Moderate
The Stone Door Trail offers a unique hiking experience with its awe-inspiring rock formations and panoramic views. The trail, which is around 1.5 miles long, leads hikers to the “Stone Door,” a dramatic cliffside overlook that offers sweeping vistas of the surrounding landscape. The trail is moderately challenging and rewards hikers with captivating views that are worth every step.
The first part of the trail is a smooth and easy quarter-mile paved road that’s wheelchair friendly. After that, the trail becomes a natural path. As you continue on the trail, you’ll come across the Laurel Gulf Overlook, where you can enjoy the surrounding mountain views.
If you’re up for a challenge, keep going past the overlook for more stunning views. Further down the trail, you’ll come across a stone stairway that leads to the Stone Door. Be careful around this area as it’s close to the high cliffs and deep rock crevices.
Once you’ve enjoyed the views from the Stone Door, you can either continue down the trail or turn back. The last part of the trail is a bit steeper and rockier, so if you’re here for the views, this may be the perfect place to end your hike.
4. Grundy Day Loop Trail
2 Miles | Loop | Easy
Perfect for those seeking a leisurely hike immersed in nature, the Grundy Day Loop Trail is approximately 2 miles long and features a picturesque creek and serene woodland. This trail is family-friendly and provides an opportunity to enjoy the park without strenuous climbs, making it ideal for a relaxing day out.
5. Collins Gulf Trail
3.9 Miles | Out-and-Back | Easy
The Collins Gulf Trail is a 3.9-mile hike that features two waterfalls. The first one, Suter Falls, is located just 0.4 miles from the Collins West Parking lot. After admiring Suter Falls and its surroundings, continue on the trail until you reach the spur trail that will lead you to both Horseback Falls and Fall Creek Sink.
The trail runs alongside the Collins River, providing beautiful scenery throughout your hike. You should be prepared to cross a few shallow rivers, so make sure to wear shoes that can get wet. You can start your journey from either end of the trail.
6. Greeter Falls Hike
1.1 Miles | Loop | Moderate
Another short beauty, the hike to Greeter Falls, is one you want to take advantage of. Located minutes from Altamont, Tennessee, this trail leads you to a 50-foot cascade. Your experience on this journey will be nothing short of beautiful.
Head to the paved parking lot near the main road to start your adventure. Follow the flat, gravel path through the wooded area until you come across a spiral metal staircase – it’s quite unique! Go down the spiral staircase to reach a set of wooden stairs that will take you to the base of the falls. Just be careful because the stairs can be slippery, especially when returning after a dip in the pools.
South Cumberland State Park’s diverse trails offer something for every hiker, from challenging treks to tranquil walks. Whether you’re seeking adventure or a peaceful day in nature, these top hiking trails are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories of Tennessee’s natural beauty.