Explorer | 20 pts
This trail is challenging, and offers lots of diversity and beautiful scenery. The first 4 1/2 miles takes you along Fiery Gizzard Creek that flows through a narrow gorge. The gorge stays cool even during the hottest part of the day and maintains an almost rain forest feel(and humidity). However, about half of it was tough going over boulder fields that required attention to every step.
If you go any time soon, make sure you tank up before the climb out because rain has been scarce and creeks on top of the plateu are mostly dry.
The 500' climb out to the top of plateau reward you with several of the most spectacular overlooks in Tennessee scattered along the next 5 miles which is also easy walking. You then take what the brochure calls a "steep decent" into Laurel Creek Gorge, and it is. A very narrow trail takes you 150' down a bluff. Including about 15' where you have to hang onto a cable to make sure your decent doesn't get too steep (i.e., vertical and quick). There is a huge blowdown blocking the trail at the bottom between two house size boulders. Make sure you pay attention as you scramble around it so you don't miss the trail back up. After getting back on top, you go from one great overlook to another until you reach a 150' water fall which marks the 12 1/2 mile mark.
An alternative route is the Dog Hole Trail which takes you out of the gorge sooner so you can miss most of the boulder fields (and some great scenery).