Tennessee's best backpacking getaway

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of September 28-October 5, 1995

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Tennessee's best backpacking getaway

Tennessee's best backpacking getaway
Q: What are some cool spots for a Thanksgiving backpacking trip, given that most people have only a few days. Any good spots in the Midwest or a bit south?
Ann Arbor, MI
[email protected]

A: We recommend heading down to Tennessee's South Cumberland Recreation area, more than 100 square miles of virtually untrammeled wilderness smack dab between Nashville and Knoxville. Because the region includes eight distinct park areas over 30,000 acres on the Cumberland Plateau, you'll have your pick of dozens of challenging and scenic backpacking trips. One good option is the Fiery Gizzard Trail, a 13-mile one-way trek that connects the Grundy Forest State Natural Area with Foster Falls Small Wild Area. Pick up the trail at the well-marked parking area on Highway 41, just outside of Tracy City, and follow it through dense woodland forests, past roaring waterfalls and spectacular sandstone formations to its end at Foster Falls. From there, you can either retrace your route back to Grundy Forest, or, if you've dropped an extra car off in advance, hike out to the parking area on Route 41 North, between Tracy City and White City. As for camping, you'll need to self-register at the trailhead for a free backcountry permit before heading out; camping is permitted only in the two designated, first-come, first-served sites along the trail. For more information and trail maps, contact the South Cumberland Park visitor center at 615-924-2980, or check out "Tennessee's Fiery Gizzards" in the Destinations section of our March 1993 issue.

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