Friday, March 1, 2019

Fiery Gizzard Trail

The 12.5-mi Fiery Gizzard Trail that goes the full distance between Tracy City and Foster Falls, is one of the best known trails on the Cumberland Plateau.  It received national attention after being ranked one of the top 25 hiking trails in North America by Backpacker Magazine.

My hiking buddy, Freddie Roberts
On the Tracy City end, the Fiery Gizzard Trail features a 2-mi day loop route, which Judy and I have hiked several times with visitors, and I have hiked with friends.  Going to the left from the trail head, The main Fiery Gizzard Trail promptly descends, goes under an impressive overhang feature, passes by some 300-500 year old hemlock trees, and follows the Little Fiery Gizzard River to the point where the Little and Big Fiery Gizzard Rivers converge.  The main trail crosses the river, and continues to follow the Fiery Gizzard River.

Sycamore Falls
 Going to the right from the trail head, the trail stays on the top for about 0.9 mi before it descends, then follows the Big Fiery Gizzard River after the descent forming the complete loop where the two rivers converge to become the Fiery Gizzard River.   Hikers commonly hike to Blue Hole Falls (Little Fiery Gizzard R.), Haines Hole Falls (Big Fiery Gizzard R.) both on the day loop route, and/or to Sycamore Falls (L), which is on the Fiery Gizzard River 1.3 mi from the trail head and 0.6 mi beyond the day loop trail.

Ravens Point
A much more ambitious loop on the Fiery Gizzard Trail begins about 0.2 mi beyond Sycamore Falls where the trail splits, and ultimately re-unites roughly 3.0 miles later, near Ravens Point, a very scenic lookout.  The named Fiery Gizzard Trail follows the the river and is classified as strenuous, whereas the Dog Hole Trail, which promptly goes up to the top of the bluff, is as easy as a "walk in the park," once on top.  The only time I have hiked to Ravens Point was on February 27, 2019.  I used the Dog Hole Trail in both directions, though I had initially planned to do the loop.  The trail was longer than I had initially realized, and I was pretty well worn out by the time I got to Ravens Point, so I was in no mood to take on the much more strenuous and technically difficult trail route going back.