Big Creek Rim Trail Professional Review and Guide
"The 4.0-mile Big Creek Gulf Trail and the 3.2-mile Big Creek Rim Trail form a loop that penetrates the remote country of this third gorge in the state natural area. Descending through the Great Stone Door to emerge in Big Creek Gulf, the route drops to Big Creek and follows it upstream, passing a side path to Ranger Creek Falls and reaching the sinks of Big Creek, where the stream usually drains below the rocky creekbed to run underground. Ascending from the gulf, the route passes Alum Gap Camp Area and returns along the rim of the gorge, with several overlooks of the deep gulf."
--Russ Manning, 40 Hikes In Tennessee's South Cumberland (The Mountaineers Books).
2 really good trail combos. the rim is easy and runs along the rim and has great views. The BCG runs along the gulf and is more difficult plus you have to come out of the gulf at some point and every way out is up up up!
This was a wonderful hike and can be a challenging day hike or a more leisurely overnighter. We did it as a daytrip and throughly enjoyed it.
Big Creek is raging right now due to the rainfall and is absolutely beautiful. Ranger Falls was inaccessible due to high water. We will have to check it out next time.
I have hiked all of the Savage Gulf trails and this is certainly one of my favorites.
First of all, you can easily separate these two trails. If you are looking for an easier hike you can start at the Stone Door Ranger Station and do a loop consisting of the following trails: Stone Door, Big Creek Rim, and Laurel. This is a fairly easy set of trails that will loop back to the ranger station. The total mileage is about 7 miles. Also near the ranger station is the Laurel Falls trail which is VERY short, but provides a nice view of the falls.
Now - for the more hardy amongst you, the Big Creek Gulf trail is a full 4 miles of difficult trail. Add in another mile if you go on the Ranger Falls spur. And you might as well take that spur since you are in the area anyway. As a previous review mentioned - be sure to wear sturdy boots! Most all of the BCG trail is rocks and boulders. Smooth trail is very scarce indeed.
If you are an experienced hiker, then you probably know what conditions to expect. If you are just getting started or haven't been on a wide variety of trails yet then plan on a pace through the BCG which is about half the speed you are used to. And make sure you carry more water than you think you'll need.
Enjoy the hike!
This was a great hike!!! We hiked in to Alum Gap and camped for a night. All of the camp sites in the Gulf have privies for a slight luxury. The only problem with the camp site is that water is about 1.5 miles away. While we were in the Gulf it was very dry. Greeter falls was just a small trickle. We got water there the first night and enjoyed a great night in the woods. One strange thing while we were sleeping there was a bird calling in the night that I haven't ever heard. If anyone has any ideas let me know. The rim trail was very flat all the way to alum gap and the gulf trail drops straight down to the bottom close to 700Ft from the camp site. The rim trail has great views all the way to the camp area.We made a stop at ranger falls and it was running but it went underground immediately but the water was nice and cold.
In the springtime Savage Gulf is a place of verdant beauty. This trail descends through the famous Stone Door directly into the gorge. I advise wearing sturdy boots, as much of the trail is steep and rocky. Once down in the gorge you wind your way along the bootom, now alongside, now apart from Big Creek. When the water is up the creek (a river at this point, really) creates whitewater reminiscent of streams in the Smokies and even the Rockies. Most of the time the water is low, but we went after a week of rain, making the river a boisterous companion to our conversation. If the water is too high you won't be able to visit Ranger Falls, for which a fording of the creek is necessary (I understand this doesn't take place too often).
Be ready for a steep climb out of the gorge. At some points you feel as though you're going straight up. Persevere; it's over sooner than you fear it will be. After that the hike is a lovely, flat meander through the woods back toawrd the Stone Door, and on to the ranger station and parking lot. There are several gorge overlooks along the way, and twice while stopping at one of these I've seen eagles soaring over the gorge.
All in all an excellent day hike, one you won't regret taking.
Sign in/up to upload photos.