Explorer | 20 pts
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.