How I Got Lost on the Foster Falls Trail

Foster Falls. The perfect way to spend a fall day!

The Fiery Gizzard Trail in South Cumberland State Park in Sequatchie, Tennessee is one of the top trails in America. I had hiked the opposite entry into the Fiery Gizzard trail earlier in the year and, unfortunately due to it getting dark, did not finish the whole trail to see Foster Falls. The Foster Falls 1.6 mile loop trail had been on my radar since. It was a warm fall day and I felt it to be perfect time to check out what I had missed.
When I arrived at the Foster Falls side of the Fiery Gizzard trail, I noticed a parking lot with a picnic table and some bathrooms. Perfect place for a picnic before the hike, I thought. I grabbed my morkie dog, Bandit, to join me on my hike.

I made my way to the Foster Falls trailhead and went towards the left to check out the overlook. There was a sidewalk and area made of wood to view the falls from afar.

Tennessee trails
Foster Falls

After taking a few photos, I made my way towards the signs that pointed to the bottom of the falls. It went from open land with an easy trail to steep stairs and rocks.

Foster Falls trail

A giant leaf that had fallen that was bigger than my head…or my dog!

I made my way down a steep hill by stepping carefully on the rocks until I made it to the bottom and could see the falls.

Foster Falls

There was a swinging bridge across the river to get to Foster Falls.

Foster Falls

Foster Falls is a 60 foot waterfall that provides a great swimming hole.

South Cumberland State Park
Foster Falls trail
Tennessee waterfalls

People were swimming in the pool below the falls, despite it being early November. Not knowing how long I might be on the trail, I wanted to get a move on. I made my way back to the trail following the well-worn trail.
The quiet area and beauty of the fall colors amazed me as I walked along the Foster Falls loop trail.

Fall is so beautiful in Tennessee!

Bandit lead me along, I felt as my body guard. (That little ankle biter can be mighty fierce when he wants to be!) After a while, I noticed others along the trail that were rock climbing. I stopped and watched about a half dozen people climbing the rocks.

Rock climbing in South Cumberland State park
Rock climbing in South Cumberland State park

I got to a sign that read, “Climb area. No exit.” It was up a steep embankment with some woods steps placed for better footing. Bandit wiggled his way up what he was able to, but, I ended up putting my camera in my bag and carrying him up the hill. I would place him on the rock above me and then pull myself up, then repeat.

Rock climbing in South Cumberland State park

The whole time, I was thinking, “There is NO way I’m going to turn around now!”

When I finally made it to the top of the big rock, I looked at what I had just climbed and then turned towards where I thought the trail was heading. I wasn’t quite sure where the trail was going. There were no white marks on the trees, rock steps, or wood placed for a trail. I pulled out my Avenza map and could see that I was close to where the trail was to connect to the other side. So, I started heading that direction. I passed what I’m pretty sure was a bear cave, or for some wild animal hibernating.

I recommend the Avenza Maps for all the hiking trails!

At one point, I came to a fallen tree. Bandit didn’t want to go any farther and tried to return the way we had come. It was as if he was saying, “I don’t smell any people on this trail.” I picked him up and set him on the other side of the tree. It was too low for me to crawl under, but too hike to climb. I wiggled my way onto it and then jumped off the other side. I made it about 10 feet when I came to a big pile of rocks.

It was a dead end! There was nowhere to go!

I was afraid to go any farther on that trail but I was afraid that there were snakes and who knows what in the boulders. Just 2 months earlier, I had seen 2 copperheads on the other side of the trail. I had no choice but to turn around and make my way down the trail I had come.
I wiggled my way over the fallen tree and down the cliff. It was much harder getting down because I was afraid I was going to fall farther than I wanted to. When I made it to the bottom, I was so upset. I was determined to figure out this so called Foster Falls loop! How could the sign tell me to climb the area as if there was no exit beyond it, when it was a dead end?

THEN it dawned on me! I read the sign wrong!

In typical Becci fashion, I realized the sign probably was referring to the trail I had just taken all the way to the dead end. The area was for the climbers with all their fancy equipment to help them up the steep rocks, not for hikers!

So, I went past the sign that was actually on a well-worn trail. There were times I wasn’t sure where I was going but eventually I would pass a tree with a white trail marker, or some evidence that I was going the right way. I climbed another steep hill that lead me to some stairs.

Tennessee trails
Foster Falls
Foster Falls trail

The stairs were SO steep! I was scared!

Not sure that Bandit could climb the stairs, I carried him in one arm, and pulled myself up with the railing. The stairs were much steeper than the picture looks!

Foster Falls loop

It wasn’t too much farther before I came to the Fiery Gizzard trail. I felt a sigh of relief that I was on a known path! This area of the trail is overlooking what I had just climbed through. The views were stunning!

Foster Falls trail
Foster Falls trail

I came to an overlook of Foster Falls with another smaller waterfall to the right of it that I was unaware of. This view is my favorite!
I tied Bandit to a tree so he wouldn’t get close to the edge as I enjoyed Foster Falls from above and took pictures.

South Cumberland State Park
Foster Falls overlook
South Cumberland State Park

The sun was starting to go down and I didn’t know how much farther I had to go, so I decided I better get to hiking.

Foster Falls trail

Then, I came to this sign!

Foster Falls trail

I’m assuming this is in regards to the actual 12.3 mile Fiery Gizzard trail and not the entire loop I had just made. I crossed the bridge before Foster Falls and made my way to the area to pass where the little waterfall was coming.

Foster Falls trail
Foster Falls trail

Shortly after, I made it to where I had started. I checked out the view from the overlook one more time since it was almost sunset. I had gotten lost on the trail but I made it out!

Foster Fall overlook
Foster Falls in Fall

Have you hiked the Foster Falls loop or Fiery Gizzard? Comment below!

By | 2017-11-23T08:35:36+00:00 November 14th, 2017|


  1. Mark November 14, 2017 at 7:29 PM - Reply

    Yes, just this past weekend! A group of us hikers went there to train for Everest Base Camp in March, and we did the entire 12.3 miles. It was CRAZY. We got a late start and ended up doing about 4 excruciatingly slow miles in the dark with nothing but headlamps. Honestly, I thought we all might die there. But we survived and it was, indeed, epic. Great story and pics, thanks so much!

    • BecciEdington November 18, 2017 at 6:30 PM - Reply

      WOW! I can’t imagine doing this in the dark. Situations like this make such great stories. Glad you made it!

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