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The Fiery Gizzard Trail is one of the most spectacular hikes in the Southeast, and is considered by many to be the best hike in the state of Tennessee. The trail has four campgrounds and two trail heads with loops possible, as well as a through hike like we did.
This Trail is located in Grundy & Marion counties of TN just south of Tracy city. USGS Topos - White City & Monteagle
Its physiographic province is the Cumberland Plateau, part of the Appalachian Plateau, which is the last remaining forested plateau in North America. The plateau is bounded by escarpments on all sides which create wonderful watershed areas whose streams are randomly branched (dendritic).
The Fiery Gizzard Trail is a 13 mile hike through one of these watersheds with part of the trail in the river gorge, and part on top of the plateau.
A bit of trivia for you, the trail supposedly got it's name when Davy Crockett burned his tongue on a hot Turkey gizzard while camped in the gorge. Another story claims it got it's name from iron smelting in the area.
On February 13, 2011 at 5:30 AM four members of Trailspace met at Foster Falls, the southern trail head for this hike and hopped into a Jeep Cherokee for the shuttle ride to Grundy forest, the northern trailhea,d and started the 13 mile hike back to our meet up spot at Foster Falls.
We quickly descended down into the Gorge where both the Little & Big Fiery Gizzard creeks converge.
This was a welcome sight for me, rugged terrain and some ice and snow. Just before I took this photo I slipped and fell on an icy flat rock, a wake up call to be more careful. My excuse is that I was wearing new socks (if you can think of something better E-mail me).
A beautiful cascade down through a section called the Black Canyon due to the organic stain on the rocks. Just enough snow & ice to get hurt. I noticed no one mentioned trying to cross the log bridge, and I was glad it wasn't part of the trail!
At 1.2 miles you get to see Chimney Rock a 20' rock column. I know somebody in the group mentioned climbing the Chimney, but time didn't allow for such heroic activity. Although I could have done it, just sayin.
Here's a lot of loose cantaloupe sized rock lining the bank of this stream to the left. Walking these rock fields can be tricky and treacherous, a good hiking stick or some trekking poles helps a lot!
Cool, clear water. Man if the water temp wasn't so low I would seriously be tempted to wade in. We hung out here for a bit taking photos and just enjoying our surroundings. I took the water temp when we filled up on water, it was 41.9 F.... COLD.
The water pouring over some rocks like this really makes me wish I had a better camera. If there are fish in the stream you can bet they will be hanging out just below areas like this waiting on food to come downstream through narrow areas they could keep an eye on. It has a lot to do with a fishes vision.
Well after the steep 800' ascent (the trail guide calls it "arduous") out of the river gorge the trail levels out on the plateau and branches with a spur trail leading to Ravens Point, the trails main overlook. This is where we rested and ate lunch. It was windy, but warm enough.
A couple of Forestry Workers were putting up a new trail sign and offered us a ride on their 4 wheeler to the parking area for $100.00. That could be a real money maker in some areas, but we declined.
We ate lunch on Ravens Point, I had an MRE with beef stew, and Gonzan made Buffalo Chicken Wraps using his alcohol stove, for him, Rocklion, and Beersheba.
Here's a view up Laurel Branch Gorge, note how steep the sides are, the steep rocky terrain is typical of Southern Appalachian slopes, and the trails often go straight up or down with some switchbacks in places.
It was a blast to hike with these guys, and I plan on doing it again soon.