Located in East Tennessee, not far from Chattanooga, is one of the top hiking trails in the United States. Known as the Fiery Gizzard trail in South Cumberland State Park, it connects Grundy Forest to Foster Falls. It is a beautiful, yet trying hike! You will pass streams and waterfalls, swimming holes, rock formations and gorges, quiet wooded areas, and discover panoramic views.
We began our hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail in the small town of Tracy City. The town is charming with the old railway depot and history downtown.
The 13 mile hike is known to be strenuous, so we started out looking for some food to fuel our energy. There are no big name sit down or fast food restaurants. There’s a Dairy Bar. I imagine it is like a Dairy Queen, but I am unsure. We put in food places in our GPS and came upon a placed called Dutch Maid Bakery.
Who knew we would find such a lovely bakery in a small city!
The Dutch Maid Bakery had many sweets such as cookies, jams, and brownies, as well as homemade breads. We decided on the club sandwich, which was delicious. If you are in the area, I highly suggest stopping in this bakery. You can eat inside or go outside and watch the cars drive by in the covered area.
Is the Fiery Gizzard Trail furious?!
The locals in the area knew about the Fiery Gizzard Trail and we got the opinion that it was a very strenuous hike. We bought some duct tape on the way due to reports that the soles of our shoes may come apart in the difficult terrain. Our bellies were fully and we were hyped up for the hike!
We parked at the Grundy Forest entrance located behind the Tracy Elementary School. We were unsure how we were going to make the 13 mile hike and get back to our vehicle if we made it to Foster Falls. Luckily, we found a sign on the information board that offered a ride back to your vehicle for $10 for 1-2 people. It is $5 extra for each additional person. With this offer, we made the decision we would hike the entire trail!
We started out the trail going right towards Hanes Hole Falls. The hike on this part of the trail, known as the Day Loop Trail, is heavily trafficked. We made it just over a mile in and almost stepped on a copperhead! After our nerves calmed down, and a couple people walked through with their dog, we decided we were brave enough to cautiously press on.
This part of the Fiery Gizzard Trail has a lot of rocks and stumps along the creek side. It is very quiet and beautiful. The Day Loop Trail is my favorite part of the Fiery Gizzard Trail. When we got to the wooden bridge, we crossed over the creek and headed towards Sycamore Falls.
Sycamore Falls has an area where you can easily swim and relax.
Then, we continued our way on the Fiery Gizzard Trail. We decided to take the Dog Hole Trail versus the gorge trail because time was getting away. Once we made it up the steep hill, the terrain was much more level. We passed Yellow Pine Falls and several overlooks before making it to Raven’s Point Overlook. This overlook provides a panoramic view of the park.
After calculating the time, we decided instead of going all the way through to Foster Falls, we would have to turn back the way we came. I was disappointed but, since we did not know the terrain, we did not want to chance getting stuck out there in the dark.
We took the same trail back, passing the Blue Hole Falls portion of the Day Loop on the way back. It was almost dark before we arrived back at the vehicle. Our Iphone calculated we had walked 13.5 miles, and we felt like we had!
Here is a map of the Fiery Gizzard Trail.
Tips for the Fiery Gizzard Trail:
- If you decide to complete the entire Fiery Gizzard Trail, I advise to leave at sunrise. There are many places along the path where you will want to stop and take pictures.
- If coming from I-24, you can stop at the South Cumberland Visitor’s Center in Monteagle for maps and information about the Fiery Gizzard Trail.
- Start your hike at the Grundy Forest and make your way to Foster Falls. Have another vehicle waiting on the other side or call for a ride.
- Bring lots of water. The hike is strenuous in areas.
- Where good hiking boots that are well broken in. I have heard a lot of stories about the soles of the shoes coming apart. That’s why we brought duct tape! Glad we didn’t have to use it!
- The Avenza map was helpful but there were areas of the trail it did not show exactly where we were. I still recommend it versus not having the map. It is worth the 99 cents.
- If you don’t have time to do the whole Fiery Gizzard Trail, I recommend the Day Loop Trail to Sycamore Falls or the trail to Foster Falls.