savage gulf

11:40 a.m. on February 22, 2012 (EST)
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85 forum posts

This topic is mostly for those in the Chattanooga area, but all input will be appreciated. I'm probably going late march to the savage gulf area to hike, and wanting to do an overnight trail. Two trails that i'm looking at are the collins gulf trail or the big creek gulf to laurel trail. any suggestions on which to do, or any others in that area that would be suggested. never been there and just want to see what others think. thanks!

7:23 p.m. on February 22, 2012 (EST)
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103 forum posts

Ive looked into going to savage gulf a number of times. Considering its a 9hr drive from where I live I often choose something in the southern Appalachians that offers better terrain. The one aspect of that area that I am interested in is "stone door" it seems like a really cool section of trail.

6:08 p.m. on February 24, 2012 (EST)
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I have been to Savage Gulf a number of times years ago. It is a great place to hike & backpack, you can pick virtually any type of terrain or length of hike you wish using the network of trails they have there.

To be honest I can't remember the names of all trails I hiked although I remember what they were like. I hiked the rim trails and some of the gorge trails. My first trip was with my son through the Stone Door which is a really big crack in the escarpment that lets you hike from the plateau down onto the gorge.

Tomorrow morning I'll dig out my notes & map to refresh my memory and I'll get back to you with some photos.

Mike G.

8:56 a.m. on February 25, 2012 (EST)
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I've had my coffee and browsed my notes and my South Cumberland Recreation Area map (Savage Gulf & Stone Door).

I don't know if you have the map, it is a good map with a list of trail descriptions on the back, well worth getting. When I was there you could get the map at one of the ranger stations.

Here is a link to a great website & PDF download of the map for the Savage Gulf area:


Above is a Google Earth view of Savage Gulf looking Southwest towards Alum Gap & Greeter Falls.

The point on the plateau in the center of the image is the Stone Door.


This is my son Mike (same name as me) climbing up out of the gorge through the Stone Door. We hiked the Big Creek Rim trail to Alum Gap to camp, and then hiked the Laurel trail on the plateau back to the Stone Door parking area.


A photo of me at the top of the Stone Door, you can see the gorge below through the crack above me.

This is a photo somewhere on a rim trail, can't remember where.

This is a (poor) photo of me sitting on the edge of a dry waterfall, I can't remember which one, possibly Laurel or Greeter Falls.

Be sure to ask about the water levels for the time of year you plan to hike the Gulf, many times the higher elevation areas are fairly dry. Recent rainfall is a pretty good guide.

I think the Big Creek Gulf to Laurel trail option is a good choice and will let you get a good sampling of what the area has to offer. This would also let you park at the Stone Door Ranger station and camp at Alum Gap with an easy day hike back out up on the plateau. Depending on water levels you may need to fill up while down in the gorge. I don't remember there being water at the Alum Gap campsite when I was there, there might be a pump there I just can't remember.

Also check out the Fiery Gizzard Trail which is close by and makes a challenging dayhike or good overnighter at 12 plus miles in gorgeous country similar to Savage Gulf.

I hope you get to go and have a great time!!

Mike G.

9:03 a.m. on February 27, 2012 (EST)
33 reviewer rep
85 forum posts

thank you for the advice and summary. the stone door looks really cool, and i may have to give that trail a try. 

June 25, 2018
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