Foster Falls and Fiery Gizzard - Hiking

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About

Summary

The Fiery Gizzard Trail in South Cumberland State Park is considered one of the nation's top 25 trails. Great for an all day hike, trail run or a weekend backpack!

Written by

Rodger Ling

Distance

12.7 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

30.8 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

6 hours

5-8 hours

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

The Fiery Gizzard Trail is considered to be one of the top 25 hikes in the United States. This trail is so beautiful in places that pictures cannot do it justice. Whether you come for a hike, trail run, or overnight backpack, you will not be disappointed.

What Makes It Great

From its start near Tracy City, the Fiery Gizzard Trail is graced with rushing creeks, waterfalls, ancient hemlocks, ferns, and rock gardens. You'll encounter a deeply cut "mini-gorge" known as Black Canyon, the beautiful Sycamore Falls, and pass between house-sized boulders. After three miles the trail becomes rocky, then leaves the creek to climb steeply to Ravens Point, where an overlook and camping area are found. If you prefer, you can use the Dog Hole Trail (named for the old coal mines it passes) to make a loop or as an easier, if less scenic, route to Ravens Point.

From the Point south towards Foster Falls the trail is an easy path through the forest until mile 9.7 when you must make a steep, rocky descent into Laurel Branch Gorge. The final two miles along the rim of the gorge to Foster Falls provide magnificent views. The falls are breathtaking, especially after rainfall, and you can finish a summer hike or run with a dip in the huge plunge pool below.

While the climb up to Ravens Point and through Laurel Branch Gorge are extremely technical, the majority is moderate to easy. Camping is available at Ravens Point or near Foster Falls (permit required).

Who is Going to Love It

Families can picnic near the vast open space of Foster Falls or do a short, easy hike at either end of the trail. Doing a thru-hike or run is strenuous and definitely for the well conditioned. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Foster Falls is 13 miles north of Jasper on Highway 41, about 45 minutes from Chattanooga. To reach the Fiery Gizzard, continue on US 41 through Tracy City, following signs to the Grundy Forest State Natural Area.

You can also approach via I-24 at Monteagle, stopping for maps and info at the South Cumberland Visitor's Center.

Location

Foster Falls and Fiery Gizzard

Tracy City, TN, 37387
35.2512, -85.7457

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