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40 Hikes In Tennessee's South Cumberland
by Russ Manning (The Mountaineers Books)
© Russ Manning/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
Great trail with plenty of water sources. The trail had a good mixture of easy hiking and somewhat strenuous climbing, especially between camp 1 and 2. Great scenery throughout the trail. We ended up setting up camp at campsite 2 and had plenty of room even though there were a few other hikers camping at the same site. The white trail markers were pretty easy to follow. The only downside to this trail was towards the end you start running into tourists and visitors wanting to see the falls that are not interested in hiking at all. A few kinda got in our way. All in all it was still a fun and challenging trail.
I did this trail twice in 2008. Spring was with my son and in the fall with my girl friend. The Spring was a better time to travel, although it was cooler, there is more sources of water. We had water issues when the creeks and Caney River were dry. The 2nd day is the most challenging with an decent into Caney River Gorge and back up the other side. Only a 2 1/2 mile trek and all day to do it, so it is easily obtainable if you need to take your time. Campgrounds are remote and the people you meet on the trail are in excellent spirit and a pleasure to be around. Trail is marked well and has alot to look at. I recommend Winter and Spring to hike. We had alot of bugs (mites) that embedded themselves into our clothes and socks in the Fall which made the trip very uncomfortable. The trail is full during the Spring and empty in the Fall. I loved this trail and it will always be one of my favorites.
This is a beautiful hike with scenery and challenge. We hiked it in January and there were quite a bit of people in the park. Imagine it would be really crowded in spring or summer. We hiked the trail in reverse order from the maintenance area to the Nature Station and from there to Campground 2. The trail begins easy enough on both ends and is very well marked. There is still evidence of a previous tornado with many downed trees and some still on the path. The trail to campground 2 had some up and downs but fairly easy. Campground 2 was a small campground, so get there early. It was in good shape and clean with water pumps available. The pumps did not work when we were there, but probably due to the cold weather. The very challenging part is the 2 1/2 mile hike between the campgrounds. You descend 500 feet down the gorge and 500 feet up. The hike is mostly rocks and boulders. Hard to see where you step with all the leaves, so you need to proceed carefully, which will take a while to hike only 2 1/2 miles. From campground 1, which is similiar to campground 2 it's a pretty easy hike out. The view when hiking the gorge are really beautiful, although in summer you can probably not see as much. Many suspension bridges on cables and lots of creeks and easy access for water.
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