Well we got a little busy and forgot to post about this adventure. In early October of this year, we made trip down to the South Cumberland State Park Unit called Savage Gulf and visited the Stone Door area in the Savage Gulf. This was going to be a trip to see some fall colors, but we were a little early. Instead, we were treated to some steep, rocky hiking, and several waterfalls.
This trip started at the Stone Door Ranger Station with a short side trip to Laurel Falls; we then hiked to the Stone Door, a massive crack the provides access to the valley floor. We then took the Big Creek Gulf Trail (BCG) through the gorge up to the Alum Gap campground. From here, we added about a 2 mile side trip to Board Tree Falls, Greeter Falls, and Upper Greeter Falls. The next day we hiked the Big Creek Rim Trail back to the Stone Door and then to the Stone Door Ranger Station. Along the way we saw five waterfalls.
The trails in Savage Gulf are rugged and as a result have some interesting trail features, like the Stone Door, Board Tree Falls suspension bridge, and a spiral stair case to access Greeter Falls.
While hiking in Savage Gulf, the rangers will ask that you hang your food as a precaution against black bears, but currently they are rarely seen and not a problem. The park does not want them learn that sloppy backpackers might be a easy source of food. Another thing to watch out for is venomous snakes. While we have never had a problem any where with snakes, we have encounter a eastern Copperhead on the trails in the Savage Gulf area. Finally, be careful on the cliff edges, in many places the trail will lead you right up to the edge of a very high cliffs; the views are great, but be careful.
Overall, Savage Gulf / Stone Door is an awesome place to hike, but pick your trails based upon your skill level. The Big Creek Rim Trail is easy, and the Big Creek Gulf Trail is a challenge. We are looking forward to visiting this area again and trying to find Ranger Falls.