The South Cumberland Plateau is home to some of Tennessee’s most diverse and spectacular scenery. It is the largest remaining forested plateau in the continental United States. Totaling 21,649 acres, the South Cumberland is managed as a single park. It is a popular destination for hikers. In addition to hiking and camping, the park offers opportunities for picnicking, swimming, fishing, caving, visiting historic ruins, rock climbing and rappelling, viewing spectacular rock formations, wildlife and waterfalls. The Perimeter Trail, located on the University of the South also offers hikes and scenic views around the Domain. Some valuable resources to get you started on your exploration of the area include the Friends of the South Cumberland State Park and the Sewanee Outing Program. The Sewanee Herbarium also sponsors events. Click here for a detailed map of the South Cumberland Park. Photos by Friends of South Cumberland Recreation Area unless otherwise noted.
Big Creek Gulf Trail, Rim Trail
The Big Creek Gulf Trail and Big Creek Rim Trail form a loop of approximately 8 miles that goes in the state natural area. It is part of the Savage Gulf Natural Area.
Blue Hole Falls
Carter Natural Area
Cator Savage Cabin
Grundy Forest Natural Area. The Chimney Rocks are rock formations that range from 25 to 60 feet tall.
Collins Gulf Trail
South Cumberland. The Collin's Gulf Trail is access from the trailhead near the Swiss Memorial School in Gruetli-Laager. The parking area is on 55th Avenue, about three miles south of State Highway 108. This is a spectacular area for spring woodland wildflowers. It is approximately a strenuous 4.5-mile hike.
Dog Hole Trail
Dog Hole Trail is a 5.6 mile out and back trail located near Tracy City. The trail is moderate and primarily used for hiking. It is part of the Grundy Forest Natural Area.
Part of the Perimeter Trail. Most of this trail is a beautiful bluff path with a final stretch along a wide fire lane through the woods. After the first creek crossing, the trail passes through an old sandstone quarry site where you can see evidence of drilling in the rocks. Take a look back over your shoulder at the creek bed to see a lot of the discarded quarry stone.
Bridal Veil Hike
Perimeter Trail. Bridal Veil is a moderate three-mile hike in Sewanee that features a waterfall. It is part of the Perimeter Trail. The Bridal Veil Arch is located at the sinkhole at the bottom of Bridal Veil Falls. Facing the valley at Morgan’s Steep on Morgan’s Steep Road, take the Perimeter Trail to your right.
Fiery Gizzard Trail
South Cumberland. Fiery Gizzard Trail goes from Tracy City to Foster Falls. The 17-mile Fiery Gizzard Trail provides numerous waterfalls, gorges, overlooks and campgrounds.
Denny Cove, a new 685-acre section of South Cumberland State Park. Photo courtesy of Access Fund
Franklin-Marion County State Forest
This forest is approximately 7,737 acres. The land was acquired in 1936 from the Cross Creek Coal Company and was highly degraded. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division assumed management of the area in 1940. The Forest is on the Cumberland Plateau and located in south-central Tennessee, in Marion and Franklin Counties. The forest has been traditionally used for hunting. Other recreational uses include horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, and camping.
Perimeter Trail. Green’s View is accessible by car. From University Avenue, turn onto Green’s View Road and travel to the end of the road. Green’s View offers a spectacular view of Roark’s Cove. It is also an access point for the Perimeter Trail.
Part of the Savage Gulf Natural Area and located in the northeast corner of the South Cumberland complex, Greeter Falls features a day use trail that is part of the Savage Gulf trails network. The trailhead is three miles from the town of Altamont and is just off Highway 56. Greeter Falls and Boardtree Falls are highlights within this strikingly beautiful area. Greeter Trail connects this section with Stone Door and other features within the Savage Gulf area.
Grundy Forest Natural Area
Grundy Forest is a 234-acre natural area located in Grundy County. Grundy Forest is located on the southwest side of Tracy City. The area features streams, waterfalls, rockhouses and steep cliffs. This natural area is the northern trailhead of the Fiery Gizzard Trail, which connects to the Foster Falls small wild area. The natural area is accessed via Highway 41/56 in Tracy City. Just after entering the town on the west side, or just before leaving the town coming from the east, look for the Grundy Forest Natural Area sign. Turn and follow the signs through two more right turns before entering the parking area.
Hobbs Cabin is the South Cumberland Park’s only cabin. A 9-mile hike from either the Savage Gulf or Stone Door entrance, it is primitive, with 6 bunks, fireplace, and a counter area. A spring is located just outside. Cabin use is first-come, first serve basis. There is a campground nearby.
Hawkins Cove Natural Area
The Cumberland Plateau is home to a large number of rare and endangered species of plants and wildlife. The Hawkins Cove Natural Area is the most recent addition to the South Cumberland complex. Its 262 acres were designated as a natural area in 1985 to preserve the rare Cumberland Rosin Weed. Additional information about this tract is available at the Visitor Center.
Laurel Falls Loop Trail
This starts at the Stone Door ranger station and goes to Laurel Falls. It is an easy 15-minute hike.
Lone Rock Loop
This trail is part of the Grundy Lakes State Park. It goes by four lakes and the remains of the Lone Rock Mine coke ovens built in 1883.
The Sewanee Memorial Cross is a memorial to Sewanee citizens and students who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. It was built in 1922. From University Avenue, turn onto Tennessee Avenue. At the end of the road is the Cross. From there you are able to see the Franklin County valley below. It is an access point to the Perimeter Trail. Photo by the University of the South
From Morgan’s Steep you can see Hawkins Cove. To begin the hike, start at Morgan’s Steep on Morgan’s Steep Road. Facing the valley, head down the stairs you’ll find to the left and follow the blue blazes to the Memorial Cross and University View.
Mountain Goat Trail
The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance is committed to building a multiuse, multimodal walking and cycling trail connecting the communities along the path of the historic Mountain Goat Railroad. It gets its name from the Mountain Goat Railroad, constructed in 1853. At the time it was the steepest railroad incline from Cowan to Sewanee. The line extended to Tracy City, Coalmont, Gruetli-Laager and Palmer. Plans are in the works to extend the Mountain Goat Trail.
Natural Bridge is a three-acre natural area located in Sewanee. The Natural Bridge is a 25-foot high natural sandstone arch with a span of approximately 50 feet. From the bridge, you have a scenic overlook of Lost Cove. There is a wet weather spring by the rockhouse, which is behind the bridge. The site is referred to as Sewanee Natural Bridge since the University of the South once owned it. The natural area is part of the South Cumberland Recreation Area. Public access is allowed. There is parking and a short hiking trail.
The Perimeter Trail is a 20-mile loop located on the domain of the University of the South. The Tate Roberts Memorial Fund made the trail possible. There are many hikes on the Perimeter Trail. Access points are located at Green’s View, the Memorial Cross, the University Gates, Lake Cheston and Breakfield Road. The Perimeter Trail is marked with blue blazes. Secondary trails are marked with white blazes. Maps are available at the Bishop’s Common on Georgia Avenue.
Savage Gulf Natural Area
Savage Gulf is 15,590-acre natural area located in Grundy and Sequatchie Counties. It is considered one of Tennessee’s most scenic wilderness areas. It contains some of the most spectacular natural rock formations in Tennessee.
Sherwood Day Loop Trail is in the recently-acquired Sherwood Forest area of the park, about 15 minutes south of Sewanee, off Jump Off Road.
Shakerag Hollow/Beckwith's Point Trail
Start at Green’s View. Facing the valley, take the trail on your right. When 3.5-mile loop you come to the rst signpost, follow the Beckwith’s Point Trail, which stays on top of the plateau. Coming out of the woods, fol- low the signs indicating the trail continues along the edge of the golf course. After the short section on the golf course, the trail re-enters the woods, taking you all the way to the Perimeter Trail. Take a left onto the Perimeter Trail, which leads you down into Shakerag Hollow. (Taking a right leads you to the University’s east gates.) Follow the trail and take a left at the signpost pointing to Green’s View.
The Stone Door Ranger Station is within the Savage Gulf area and is accessible off State Highway 56 near Beersheba Springs. It is named for the Great Stone Door, a 150-foot deep crevice at the crest of the Plateau. It is the western access for the Savage Gulf-Stone Door trails network.
Suter Falls is part of the Collins Gulf area of Savage Gulf.
Part of the Fiery Gizzard Trail.
Thumping Dick Cove
Start at Gate 7 on Breakfield Road. After eight-tenths of a mile, the old road crosses a broken wooden bridge. A small path (which is not easily visible) is located on the left just on the far side of the washed-out bridge. Follow the little path down the steep slope to the small cave on the left.
Walls of Jericho
The Walls of Jericho is a 750-acre natural area that is within the 8,943-acre Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which is contiguous to the Skyline WMA in Alabama. Both of the public lands on the Tennessee and Alabama side total 21,453 acres. The initiative to acquire this land was a lengthy project completed by The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee and Alabama. The natural area is approximately 12 miles south of Winchester. The southern boundary of the natural area follows the Alabama Tennessee state line where the actual “Walls of Jericho” is located.