UPDATE: South Cumberland State Park began closing Grundy Lakes Loop Road to vehicle traffic daily beginning Monday, Nov. 10 and will continue the closure until Monday, Dec. 22. The main parking area and restroom facility are open daily from sunrise until sunset, as well as the picnic area, the dock to lower lakes, the beach, hiking trails, the historic coke ovens and the loop road for pedestrian use.
South Cumberland State Park is located within four different Tennessee counties: Grundy, Franklin, Marion and Sequatchie. The park is composed of more than 20,299 acres in nine separate areas and boasts some of the best hiking and backcountry camping in the region.
The Fiery Gizzard Trail is a 12.5 mile long one-way trail that connects the Grundy Forest and Foster Falls. Hikers may observe nature, swim in Fiery Gizzard Creek, see spectacular rock formations, cascading streams, waterfalls, rocky gorges, panoramic overlooks and lush woodlands. This trail has been rated by Backpacker magazine as one of the Top 25 in the country and should not be missed!
The Savage Gulf and Stone Door areas of the park offer over 70 miles of hiking to remarkable vistas, waterfalls and historical locations such as the Stage Coach Road. The Great Stone Door is an impressive cliff line overlooking the Savage Gulf. It gets its name from a crack in the cliff that runs from the top to the bottom that looks like a door left slightly ajar. This is one of the many ways to access the gulf below. Many of the trails are perfect for wildflower hunts as the hiker traverses the different environs of the top of the plateau and the deep gulfs.
Carter Natural Area is part of a unique 18,000-acre enclosed-valley sinkhole aptly named Lost Cove. Dense forests, clear streams the striking Buggytop Cave entrance, one of the largest cave openings in the state, are a few of the features found here.
Sewanee Natural Bridge is a beautiful sandstone arch that overlooks Lost Cove and is an easy hike from the parking lot.
Grundy Lakes, a day-use area near Tracy City, provides swimming, picnicking, fishing, hiking and a view of 19th century coke ovens.
The visitor’s center has interpretative exhibits and provides information on each component of the South Cumberland State Park and is a great place to picnic before beginning the adventure. Also located just outside the visitor’s center are various recreation fields (Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Horseshoes, Tennis, and Baseball) and equipment can be rented for free from the front desk.
South Cumberland State Park has two picnic pavilions for larger parties that can be reserved in advance. There are also eight other small picnic areas with grills located throughout the park.
Backcountry camping at South Cumberland can be a wonderful experience with 110 backcountry campsites scattered throughout the park. These are primitive, backcountry sites and hiking is required to reach all of them. Some are only a few hundred yards from the parking lot and some are five or more miles away. Fire rings and outhouses are located at each of the 14 fourteen designated camping areas and a permit is required for backcountry camping. Water is mostly seasonal with many of the water sources being creeks and springs, call ahead if you have any questions about water availability.