Great Hikes: Fiery Gizzard Trail, Cumberland SP

This southern trail, an hour outside of Chattanooga, is packed with natural features
Staff Writer


Foster Falls is one of many natural features along the Fiery Gizzard Trail.

The Fiery Gizzard Trail is located in South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee, on The Cumberland Plateau–the largest remaining forested plateau in the United States (21,649 acres). The 12.5-mile trail gives you plenty of bang for your buck. Along the relatively flat path, you still pass by many natural features: cascading streams, waterfalls, panoramic overlooks, rocky gorges and lush woodlands. For this reason, The Fiery Gizzard is called one of the most diverse and beautiful trails in the state. This is also a great trail for fungi enthusiasts. You can find many different types of mushrooms along the trail including a variety of boletes, black jelly drops and golden chanterelles. 

If you choose to break up the trip, you can stay at one of the four primitive campgrounds. Make sure to get a permit at the trailhead before you depart.

For a detailed map of the trail, check out the Friends of South Cumberland State Recreation Area website. 

Distance: 12.5-miles
Elevation Change: Approximately 600 feet
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Duration: One or two days
Best Time to Go: September–October is the ideal time to visit for cooler weather and fall colors

How to get there: The closest major cities by car are Chattanooga (one hour) and Nashville (about two hours). You can start the trail from the north entrance in the Grundy Forest State Natural Area, about three miles from the South Cumberland Visitor Center, or from the south entrance near the Foster Falls area. For detailed directions, contact South Cumberland State Park.

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