South Cumberland State Park is a unique 30,000-acre park with nine scattered sections in southeast Tennessee. Over 90 miles of trails wind through the park that your pup will love to explore.
The most famous is the Fiery Gizzard Trail, which Backpacker Magazine named one of the top 25 trails in the United States. It's possible to hike this 13-mile trail in a single day if you do it as a point-to-point trail with a shuttle pickup on the opposite end, but it will take at least two days if hiked as an out-and-back trail. It's not a trail for the inexperienced or faint-of-heart, as it features nearly 2,000 feet of elevation gain. However, the trail rewards the brave of heart and paw with stunning sights including several large waterfalls, huge caves, and dense, mysterious forests.
For people looking for more accessible day hikes, don't fret—South Cumberland is full of them. One of the best day hikes in the park system starts at the northern trailhead for the Fiery Gizzard Trail. The Grundy Day Loop is a three-mile loop trail with only about 300 feet of elevation gain that you and your pup can complete in a couple of hours. The three-mile route includes the hike to and from Sycamore Falls, though you can leave it out to shorten your hike to a two-mile loop. Another option is to hike to Sycamore Falls as a two-mile out-and-back hike. Either way, trickling creeks, roaring waterfalls, and spectacular rock formations
are among the sights you'll enjoy on this scenic and accessible hike.
Another great day hike in the South Cumberland State Park system is the Stone Door hike. This two-mile round-trip out-and-back hike begins at the Stone Door Ranger Station in the Savage Gulf Natural Area about twenty miles north of the trailhead for the Grundy Day Loop and Sycamore Falls hikes. There are only 200 feet of elevation gain as you pass through stone gorges and ascend to panoramic mountain ridge views.
Another great day hike for people and dogs begins at the Savage Gulf East trailhead on the opposite end of Savage Gulf Natural Area. Rangers recommend the four-mile round-trip hike as especially dog-friendly. The hike has an accessible challenge level with 500 feet of elevation gain and lots of engaging sights and smells, including fresh and scenic Savage Falls.
If you and your pup are ready for an adventure, head to wild and beautiful South Cumberland State Park for a day you'll remember furever.