For adventure-seekers, nearby South Cumberland State Park is a wild and interesting area to discover.
The park is located within four different Tennessee counties: Grundy, Franklin, Marion and Sequatchie. The park is composed of approximately 30,845 acres in nine separate areas and boasts some of the best hiking and backcountry camping in the region.
With 12 trailheads at the park, a new one is being showcased each month. For December, Lost Cove North Trailhead is featured. At this trailhead, hikers will find the Sewanee Natural Bridge, only a few hundred feet from the parking area.
A masterpiece of Mother Nature’s handiwork, the 27-foot-tall natural bridge has been artfully weathered from solid sandstone by water seeping from the bluff and by winds coming up from the valley below.
This “bridge” started out being part of the bluff-line, but over time, the entire rock formation has migrated away from the bluff, slowly sliding downhill.
The unusual nature of the Natural Bridge made it a popular tourist attraction beginning in the 1870s, when the nearby University of the South was founded.
The following ranger-led activities are also available for all to enjoy. Some activities require registration and a small fee to help support Tennessee state parks.
For more information call or visit the park’s visitor center at 11745 U.S. Hwy. 41 in Monteagle, 931-924-2980. To register for an event, visit www.friendsofsouthcumberland.org.
Cancellations must be made no later than 48 hours prior to the program's scheduled conclusion to receive a refund.
Walk off that Thanksgiving big meal by joining Ranger Ryan Harris for a Turkey Trot hike on Friday. Hikers will travel to a special overlook on the Fiery Gizzard trail, which is rated easy-to-moderate. Come prepared by dressing appropriately for the weather and wearing sturdy hiking shoes or boots. The hike is free, but donations are welcome. Visit the park’s website to register for this hike, email email@example.com or call 931-801-2568.
Join Ranger Spencer Baxter for a night hike on Saturday from 6:30-9 p.m. at Stone Door. This is a two-mile, roundtrip leading to several overlooks to allow hikers to experience the night sky and the unseen wonders of night in the beautiful Savage Gulf State Natural Area. Visitors are required to bring their own headlamp, sturdy hiking boots, appropriate clothing for the weather, and the spirit of adventure. This hike is limited to the first 10 people to register. Cost is $10. Check in with Ranger Baxter at the Stone Door Station, 1183 Stone Door Road, Beersheba Springs, about 15 minutes before the start of the hike.
Join Ranger Jason Reynolds on Saturday from 1-5 p.m. for a Secret Sherwood hike featuring a moderate, three-to-four-mile, out-and-back trek. The hike may have a few difficult sections and will involve some off-trail hiking. Cost is $7. Meet at the Sherwood Forest parking lot. Take Exit 156 to Old CCC Road. Sherwood entrance is opposite Coyote Cove Lane.
Ranger's Ramblings will be held Dec. 1 from 9-9:30 a.m. with Mark Greenwood at Stone Door Pavilion. The topic will be, “What it takes to be a ranger at Savage Gulf.” Cost is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and younger. Meet at Stone Door Ranger Station, 1183 Stone Door Road, Beersheba Springs.
Ranger's Ramblings will be held Dec. 2 from 9-9:30 a.m. with Mark Greenwood at Stone Door Pavilion. The topic will be "Rangers on TV and in books." Cost is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and younger. Meet at Stone Door Ranger Station, 1183 Stone Door Road, Beersheba Springs.
Join Stewardship Ecologist Murray Gheesling from 10 a.m. to noon on Dec. 11 for a hike on the completed portion of a three-mile loop trail at the newly designated State Natural Area and SCSP-managed area. Gheesling will discuss ecology and rare species and will lead hikers to view great vistas. The trail is easy but rocky in places. Be prepared with proper footwear, water and clothing layers. Take Exit 156 to Old CCC Road. Sherwood entrance is opposite Coyote Cove Lane.