Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Greeter Falls Trail 11/1/2009

After leaving Foster Falls, we decided to go hike the Greeter Falls Trail. We reached the parking lot and began to look for the trail head. We didn't know where it began and finally saw it across the road. This part of the trail was an old logging road through the trees. It was wide and easily traveled. All of the leaves were off the trees. About .1 miles down the trail there was a spur trail off to the right going to a swimming hole. We didn't hike to it.

About .25 miles from the trail head there was a spur leading off to the left. This trail takes you to the old Greeter Home place. It was only 50 yards long so we hiked up to it. The only remains of the house are the basement and a wide well that is grated over. It seemed like a pretty nice spot for a house, but there wasn't much to look at in the way of remains. We took a couple of pictures and then left.

We got back onto the main trail and hike a little further. The trail then came to a Y. The main part led to Boardtree Falls and allows a loop back or you can start the loop by going to Greeter Falls taking the right. We elected to go right, and I'm glad that we did. The trail immediately narrowed to a single file and began to descend. The trail widened a little and began to follow a little stream. The trail next comes to a little spring coming from the rocks on the right. It was very small and would probably be dry in times of little rain. About the same time the trail narrows again as it goes down a sandstone shelf. The shelf is not technical in any way, but we watched for loose rocks. At the bottom of the sandstone area, the trail goes up against the bluffs.
Trail against bluffs

It was rocky here with lots of loose rock. The trail follows the bluffs for about .2 miles and then there is a trail that comes down from the right. The sign says to go to Boardtree Falls to stay on the trail, but to go to Upper and Greeter Falls to go right. We went right. The little trail went strait down to join with the trail to the two falls.

We descended to the magnolia surronded trail and turned right to go to Upper Greeter Falls. The trail here was not bad. It climbed a little and then leveled out before a quick drop to the falls. According to a book I have, the trail is only about 100 yards long. The drop was rocky. We took care not to turn an ankle or fall. I was carrying Mia again so I had to make sure she didn't have a heart attack. She likes trails that are old logging roads or railroad grades, but put her on a true trail and her Chihuahua shakes start in and she's ready to head to the car. Back to the trail. it ended at a cliff with the falls on the right. The falls were nice to look at, but compared to Foster Falls they were nothing special. There was a rock sticking up near the middle of the falls and it was nice to watch the spray come off it. the ledge we were on is connected to ledge of the falls and it is possible to walk to the head of the falls by just stepping over the intervening space.

Upper Greeter Falls

After pictures were done, we hiked back to the trail sign and went to Greeter Falls. The trail here is more technical. It drops from the sign into a rocky area with a thin trail among the rocks. Care should be taken here. The rocks are at odd angles and some of the rocks stood up to my mid calf. The rocky area is maybe 150 yards long. The trail then comes to a ledge and a metal spiral stair case.
Spiral Staircase
We descended the stair case and followed the trail. The trail here goes quickly down hill along the bluff. It is rocky with loose rock and water, probably due to the rain we'd had the previous week. The trail then came to a wooden staircase. The stairs were slick with water. At the bottom of the stairs is a wooden plank with with raised wooden slats to help with traction down to the bottom. We descended with much care. Once at the bottom we were in a rock garden maybe 50 yards from the falls. We took some pictures and walked around for a bit before climbing back up to the main trail.

Greeter Falls

Once back on the main, we began hiking towards Boardtree Falls. The trail stayed fairly up on the ridge and withing sight of the creek. The scenery alternated between rocks and trees. There were no real vistas to be seen. About a mile down the trail, we came to another rock garden. There was a sign that said said trail closed in the middle of the trail, but there was another sign saying trail that pointed tot he left. We followed this trail and immediately the trail became rocky. The trail winds it way along the bottom of cliffs and thru more rock gardens. This was the most difficult part of the trail. The trail went over and around rocks at all angles, both climbing and descending.

The trail came out along the bluff and then through the trees we could see Boardtree Falls. Unfortunately we could could get no closer. So we took some pictures through the tree of the falls. the trail then climbs up the ridge to another trail. The sing pointed tot he left saying parking area and to the right it said Alum Gap. We could see a swinging bridge over the head of the falls. We decided to walk over the bridge for pictures. There was a small trail that led to the top of the falls. We went down this trail and took some pictures there.
Boardtree Falls
With all the pictuers taken and daylight getting short we went back to the car. The trail was the same one we started out on, the old logging road, so we made good time.
Total Miles Hiked: 2
Mia at Jacks River

Foster Falls/Climbers Loop Trail 11/1/2009

After seeing pictures of the falls at the South Cumberland Visitor Center, Jackie wanted to go and take pictures of Foster Falls. So we had a Saturday off together and went. Foster Falls is a TVA Small Wilderness area. At the parking area there are picnic tables and restrooms. The parking area is also one of the trail heads for the Fiery Gizzard Trail, the other trail head is the Grundy Forest parking area.
Foster Falls Sign

The Foster Falls trail head is to the left of the state sign, pictured above. There is a nice metal and wood walkway built up to take you over a creek and the top of the plateau. The bridge ends at the overlook. THe overlook provides some good, albeit distant, views of the falls. Jackie and myself took several pictures from here. We took Mia with us on this hike.

Foster Falls from the Overlook

The trail to the base of the falls begins at some steps that lead down from the overlook. The trail starts off as a road along some power lines. After going about 30 yards, there was a sign on the right that points down off the plateau. There are steps that help get you down over some rocks. After that, the trail disappears into the rocks. To follow the trail you must look for some flat rocks and white blazes on the trees. The trail isn't that hard to follow, but care must be taken over the rocks. We both stumbled several times.

Once at the bottom of the plateau there is a bridge across the creek. You can either go across or thread your way over rocks along the base of the plateau and over rocks along the base of the overlook to see the falls. We decided to jump the rocks first. I fell once, holding Mia and Jackie's extra lenses for her Cannon camera. We got some good pictures here. We also found a side waterfall that started under the overlook. The falls were beautiful. There had been some rain the week before and the falls were running at full power.

Jackie and I retraced our steps and crossed the bridge. The trail ran to the right and to the left. We went right, but Jackie was later told by a classmate and I found in 40 Hikes in Tennessee's South Cumberland Third Edition book that the trail to the left made a loop back to the parking area. There is a beach a the end of the trail, but the bottom the bottom was filled with rocks. Not good for bare feet swimming. We got some more pictures here. It was a nice spot. We went back to the bridge and took some more pictures. After those pics were done we went back to the car. The climb up was tough, read steep, and the rocks didn't help much. There were a lot of people on the trail that day.

Foster Falls from the end of the trail followed by the Swinging Bridge
Total Miles Hiked: .8
If we had followed the loop it would have been 2 miles

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Stone Door + Laurel Falls Trails (Savage Gulf S.P.) 10/23/2009

After finishing up with Grundy Day Loop Trail, Jackie and I decided that we had enough time to try the Stone Door. We got there around 3pm. The trail began after the ranger station. There was a wooden trail sign for peopel to sign in on. We signed in and saw that to the right was the Stone Door Trail and to the left was the Laurel Falls Loop Trail. We went right.
Trail Sign

The trail started off easily enough, it was paved. There are bridges over all the water crossings. The trail lazily winds its way through the trees. After about 1/3 mile thee is a trail to the right leading to a privative camp site. We kept going. After about a 1/2 mile we cane to Laurel Overlook. The views here ware great. All of Savage Gulf spread out before us. We could see fall colors in all directions, rocks shown from the top of the plateau. We took lots of pictures. We could see the Stone Door From where we were.
View from Overlook
Stone Door from Overlook

Pictures done, we began to hike again. The pavement ends about 50 yards past the overlook. We met a group of people coming back. They were mostly 50+ in age. I hope to be able to hike when I get their age. We continued winding our way along the now dirt trail. The trees were tall, but not much variety in color. Mainly the trail was just a stroll in the woods.

After a mile we came to the Stone Door. the grass and dirt gave way to bare rock and moss. There were a couple of stunted trees growing there. The rock went out to a point and then there was a small gap and the other part of the point went out maybe 60 feet further. Just before the crack, the trail turned to the right and went down a crevasse where it joined with another trail. The trail going down went between the plateau and the point forming the door. By looking down the trail you can see that the point was still attached to the plateau proper, but the only way to go out onto the point was to step over the crack.
The Crack

So we took all of this in. Jackie stepped over the crack and out onto the point. I walked up and put one foot over the crack and looked down. The fall to the right side was further than that on the left. I don't like heights to begin with and this did not help any. It was windy the day that we went and I had to hold onto my hat the whole time we were on the point. There were a few stunted trees growing there, mainly pines. Moss was also growing on the rocks. The views from here were great though. We could see up all three branches of the Gulf. We took several pictures from here. Also we just sat for a bit and took it all in.

After pictures were done we walked down the tail through the crevasse. There was a twisted and dead tree by the top of the trail. Small stone steps had been placed on this part of the trail to help with going up or down. Still it was tough going. Our calves were burning by the bottom. The steps would be very slippery when wet. We took pictures and climbed back up. we then went back to the trail head the way we came.
Stone Steps

Once we got back to the sign we decided to hike the Laurel Falls Loop Trail. The trail can either be hike by going strait at the sign or taking a right and go
ing down. We went strait. The trail descended down to the creek. At the creek there was a trail to the left that went to an old grist mill. The trail was dirt, no pavement. At the grist mill there was nothing really to see, just a broken concrete wall.
Laurel Falls

Over the Edge

About .05 miles from the spur trail, the trail came to the top of the falls. There is a small 3 step cascade before the falls proper. Jackie and I took some pictures there and I took one holding the camera over the edge of the falls. It turned out pretty well. jackie and I followed the trail again and went to a steel overlook. We took several pictures there. Once done we climbed the trail back to the parking lot. The climb back up was steep and there were metal stairs for people tu use. It was a good trip.

Total Miles hiked: 2.5

Grundy Day Trail (South Cumberland State Park) 10/23/2009

Jackie and I wanted to see some of the fall colors. We had planned to ride over the Cherohala Skyway but since it was raining, we went west. I had been wanting to go to the Savage Gulf, so we went. We reached the Park Visitor Center around 1-1.30 and the woman there told us about Grundy Forest. Not knowing when the sun would set, we went there.

The trail started at a picnic pavilion. There are two ways to hike the trail. One is to start on the Fiery Gizzard Trail Head and the other is to start the trail behind a picnic table pavilion. We decided to start behind the pavilion.
Start of Trail

The trail started off winding its way down the side of the ridge, very gradually. Within .25 miles we had dropped maybe 50 feet and came to a small creek making a waterfall down the side of the ridge with a bridge over the top of the falls.

We took pictures and then went over the bridge and on the trail. The trail climbed a little ways up the ridge and was fairly strait. When we came to the CCC Camp Site, the trail turned to the left and started down the ridge. Going down was pretty steep, but nothing bad. At the bottom of the ridge, the trail turned back left and followed a creek. It was nice with the mist in the air causing sun beams. The ridge was steep here, falling directly to the creek. The trail became very narrow, Jackie and I could not walk side by side any more. The trail reminded me of a mountain goat path. This was maybe .75 miles into the trail.

At 1 mile we came to the Haynes Hole Falls. This was a neat waterfall. It falls 25 feet according to the info I could find. We took many pictures here. There was a bridge over part of the rocks. it was really a nice spot. The water here was cold.
Haynes Hole Falls
The trail continues along the side of the ridge, a goat path for about another .5 miles. Then it meets with the Fiery Gizzard Trail. The Gizzard goes to the right over a bridge and up a ridge. After meeting up with the Gizzard, the trail widens back out. About .1 miles from the bridge, the trail comes to Blue Hole Falls. In my opinion it is not a pretty as Haynes Hole Falls and it was further away from the trail, but we were still able to get a couple pictures. The trail then goes into some undergrowth. It was like walking through hedges. Once through this area the trail becomes rocky. It runs against some bluffs and goes under a little overhang forming a cave. It was a nice spot. A good place to be if it begins to rain, but I would not want to camp there.

After getting through the bluff, the trail begins a sharp ascent. It climbs up the bluffs that it followed. The trail is steep and twisting. Once to the top the trail becomes level and there is an overlook, but with the trees being higher than the spot we couldn't see much. After the overlook, the trail begins a wide arc back to the parking area. It was a nice trail and I would hike it again.

Total Miles Hiked: 2


Hello all. My name is Aaron and I live in South East Tennessee. I'm a Christian who enjoys getting out and wandering through God's green Earth. So I plan to use this blog as a trail report journal. I'll list all of the trails that I walk and try to write them in a way that will help those who have not hiked them know what they are getting into. I will try my best to be unbiased but, since we are all human that might not be possible.
My main hiking partner is my girlfriend, Jackie. Occasionally her little Toy Chihuahua Mia goes on our adventures with us. Due to our work schedules, we don't always get all day to hike, thus the title of the blog. It seems like we are always outrunning something, dark or storms, but we have fun and take pictures along the way.
I hope that you all enjoy this blog as much as I've enjoyed hiking the trails.