Fiery Gizzard waterfall

South Cumberland State Park is a big and wild place with 31,000 acres for hikers to explore.

There are 12 trailheads within SCSP, each leading to amazing places and great adventures in different parts of the park.

Over the next 12 months, the TrailTracker is featuring a different trailhead each month, with inside information about each that hikers can use to have a great adventure in that area of the park.

Hikers can plan to experience a different part of the park each month during the time of the year when there’s something especially interesting or unique going on at each trailhead.

SCSP’s Visitor Center is located at 11745 US Highway 41 in Monteagle.

For more information, call 931-924-2980 or visit www.friendsofsouthcumberland.org/trail-adventure-october.html.

Fiery Gizzard North

October’s featured trailhead is Fiery Gizzard North, where swimming holes, history and geology will be a part of the adventure.

This trail is 2-1/2 miles long for a two-to-three-hour hike.

In Tracy City, the Fiery Gizzard North Trailhead at the Grundy Forest State Natural Area provides hikers with access to the Grundy Forest Day Loop Trail, which, in turn, can lead to the CCC Camp Interpretive Loop as well as the northern end of the Fiery Gizzard Trail and Dog Hole Trail along with many beautiful waterfalls, swimming holes and backcountry camping at the Hemlock Grove/Grundy Forest Campground.

The Grundy Forest Day Loop trail leaves from the trailhead kiosk.

Simply bear left at the trail split, 50 feet from the kiosk. About a quarter mile from the kiosk, the trail descends from the plateau on stone steps and arrives at the Cave Spring Rockhouse, an early Native American habitation site.

The large hemlock tree in front of the Rockhouse is at least 375 years old.

About a half-mile from the kiosk, the trail crosses a wooden bridge with a staircase on the far side.

This is an area known as Blue Hole and is a popular summertime swimming hole.

The concrete foundation there is what remains of a pump house, constructed to supply water to the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp up the hill, which hikers will encounter later on, if they choose to walk the entire Grundy Day Loop Trail.

About 500-feet past Blue Hole, a metal footbridge to the left crosses Little Fiery Gizzard Creek and marks the northern terminus of the Fiery Gizzard Trail.

This bridge was installed this summer following a very wet winter in 2020, which flooded the creek and washed out the prior wooden bridge.

Continuing on the Grundy Forest Day Loop, about 500-feet past the Fiery Gizzard Trail footbridge is the junction of Little and Big Fiery Gizzard Creeks below the trail and to the left.

Heading upstream along Big Fiery Gizzard Creek, about 500 feet past the creek junction, the Grundy Forest Day Loop comes to Hanes Hole Falls.

The plunge pool below this small but scenic waterfall is less than six feet deep, thus not suitable as a swimming area.

About 500 feet above Hanes Hole Falls, Big Fiery Gizzard Creek forms a large and deep swimming hole, albeit without a waterfall. This has been a very popular place for hikers to cool off in the summertime.

Just above the swimming hole, the Grundy Forest Day Loop bears to the right and ascends to the plateau, away from the Big Fiery Gizzard Creek.

About a quarter mile after leaving the Big Fiery Gizzard Creek, the Grundy Forest Day Loop comes to the site of a historic Civilian Conservation Corps Camp.

A 1/3-mile loop trail takes you past bathhouse, laundry, watchtower and icehouse building foundations as well as recreational courts and other remnants of the camp.

A portion of the loop trail utilizes the camp’s original service road. A dozen interpretive sign panels scattered along the route tell the fascinating story of CCC Company 1475, which called this site home for three years from 1935-1938.

A half-mile beyond the CCC Camp entrance, the Grundy Forest Day Loop crosses Schoolhouse Branch on a small wooden bridge; a 20-foot waterfall is just downstream, to the right. At the base of the waterfall are remnants of an old moonshine still.