Print-Friendly Version
Add this event to your calendar (Outlook, iCalendar)
Add REGISTRATION REMINDER to your calendar

REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page.

SAVAGE GULF - Waterfalls, Overlooks, Rock Formations, Swimming Holes and More

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: Altamont, TN   Hike: SAVAGE GULF - Waterfalls, Overlooks, Rock Formations, Swimming Holes and More  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sun, Sep 9 2012  9:30 am >> Sun, Sep 9 2012 5:30 pm  (Carpool Departure: 6:20 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Fri, Aug 31 2012 7:07 am
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Sep 7 2012 12:00 pm
Event Duration:8 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult
Distance:10.5 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Beth H
Email Trip Leader(s)
You must be logged in to get the Trip Leader contact information.
Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:14
Minimum Group Size:4
Number Registered So Far: 14 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


Please read this entire description, the notes at the bottom of the itinerary, the Required to Bring, Recommended to Bring, and Additional Notes sections… there is important information in these.

There will be an option to go up to Foster Falls, see the falls, and camp there the afternoon/evening before it anyone would like.  (see notes section of the posting for details)


Savage Gulf is 15,590-acre natural area carved like a giant crowfoot into the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau; it is one of Tennessee's most scenic wilderness areas.  Its sheer sandstone cliffs and rugged canyons provide extraordinary views. A significant feature is Stone Door, a 10 ft. wide by 100 ft. deep crack, forming from the top of the escarpment into the gorge below. It looks like a giant door left ajar and was once used by Indians as a passageway. The spectacular cliffs offer one of the best scenic overlooks in Tennessee.  Breathtaking waterfalls form at the head of many gorges, where streams drop off over hard sandstone cap rock. Greeter Falls drops over a 15-foot upper ledge and then plummets over a 50-foot lower ledge into a cold, clear plunge pool.  Big Creek, Collins River and Savage Creeks each tumble down over 5 miles, dropping over 800 feet through narrow gorges, forming the "Gulfs." Observed from a 750 overlook, Big Creek mysteriously disappears below. Many other big streams go underground cutting through shale and limestone to form dry creek beds.

While much of the gorge is second growth forest, there is one large section of old growth mixed mesophytic forest in the gorge. The gorge forests abound with oaks, hickories, maples, yellow poplars, hemlocks, pines and many other tree species. Beneath the forest canopy is a vast array of shrubs, vines, wildflowers, mosses and ferns which rival the flora of the Great Smoky Mountains in number and variety.  Animal life is abundant at Savage Gulf.  Many species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians are found in the diverse habitats of the area.  Squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks, and skunks can be seen.  The skilled woodlorist can expect to find deer, bobcats, fox, grouse, and to hear the cry of the hawk and owl.  The natural area is a part of the South Cumberland State Park. Savage Gulf is also on the Registry of National Natural Landmarks.


The Hike:

Although there are over 53 miles of hiking trails in the Savage Gulf, we will not be able to explore them all.  However, I have planned a route which will take us to many of the great sites.

The hike will begin from the Greeter Falls Parking Area at the west end of the park.  We will follow the Greeter Falls Loop Trail for roughly 0.8 miles passing the top of the falls, winding down a spiral staircase to the bottom of the falls, and then back up to the Greeter Trail.  On the Greeter Falls Loop Trail, we will “scout” for the swimming hole that we want to use near the end of the hike.  We will then take the Greeter Trail across a suspension bridge until we arrive at the Big Creek Rim Trail.  Following the Big Creek Rim Trail for 3.2 miles we will see views from the Big Creek Overlook, Sinks Overlook, and Split Rock (Stone Door) Overlook.  There are numerous stream crossings along this trail, however, these are typically dry during the summer months.  After arriving at the Stone Door Overlook, we will take the 4-mile long Big Creek Gulf Trail which steeply descends through the Stone Door into the gulf.  This is a rugged, rocky, challenging 4-mile trail.  We will take a short side trail to several resurgent springs where the creek comes back up after a nearly 2-mile underground stretch.  We will then take a 1-mile round trip side trail to Ranger Falls and the sink where Ranger Creek disappears underground. Continuing along BCG trail, we will then take the short Sinks Spur Trail to the point where Big Creek disappears under an imposing, unstable, limestone bluff. After arriving back at the Greeter Trail, we will take it back across the suspension bridge to the Greeter Falls Loop Trail stopping at the “swimming hole.”  This is an aswsome swimming hole and even has a 33 foot ledge to jump off into the large plunge pool for anyone who desires to do so.  After a cool, cleansing, and refreshing swim we will only have a short distance back to the parking lot and our vehicles.



1)    Difficulty Rating: This hike will be approximately 11 miles long and have an elevation gain of approximately 1,900 ft. Occasionally a hike of this distance and elevation gain might be at the very upper end of a D4 rating. However, due to the fact that some of the trails are difficult, rocky, and challenging, the event is classified as a D5.  You should have solid D4 hiking experience, good balance/coordination, and be comfortable on sections with extremely rocky terrain.  If you do not have D4/D5 hiking experience, the TL may elect to remove your registration.

2)   I am planning to go up Saturday afternoon/evening to visit Foster Falls and camp there prior to the event.  (see addtional notes below for details)

3)  We will be stopping for dinner in Chattanooga after the event.  If you don't wish to do this, you should plan to arrange your own carpool with others who do not wish to stop, or else drive yourself to the event.

Required Items to Bring:

* Good sturdy hiking shoes (the terrain will be very rocky in places - athletic shoes are not acceptable)

* Water and/or Sports Drink (2.5 liters minimum)

* Lunch and Snacks

* Change of clothes for the ride home

* Cash for your carpool driver

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

* Bathing suit or quick dry clothing you can swim in

* Towel

* Camera

* Sunscreen

* Insect repellant

* Water shoes/sandals

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

--From Chastain Rd take I-75 N 85 miles entering Tennessee

--Take exit 2 on the left to merge onto I-24 W toward Chattanooga/Nashville

--Travel on I-24 W for 26.8 miles to Exit 158.

--Take Exit 158 for TN-27 toward Powells Crossroads

--Turn right onto TN-27 E/Ra Griffith Hwy and travel 0.3 miles

--Turn left onto TN-2 W/US-41 N/US-64 W/US-72 W/Dixie Hwy W

--Continue to follow TN-2 W/US-41 N/US-64 W/US-72 W for 3.8 miles

--Turn right onto TN-150 N/Betsy Pack Dr

--Continue to follow TN-150 N for 16.4 miles

--In Tracy City, Continue onto Altamont St for 1.5 miles

--TurnleftontoFire Twr Rd and travel 171 ft

--Turn right onto TN-56 N and travel 14 miles

--Turn right onto Greeter Falls Road and travel  0.7 miles 

to the Savage Gulf - Greeter Falls Parking Lot

GPS Directions
For best accuracy, enter the following coordinates into your GPS:  N 35 26.311' W 85 41.880'
Alternately, you can enter the approximate street address: 
Altamont, TN 37301

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):300Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 6:20 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $120.00 using a reimbursement rate guideline of $0.400 per mile. The total amount should be divided by the number of people in the vehicle, including the driver. This is a guideline, not a rule, for drivers but the cost should not be higher unless there are extenuating circumstances.


Foster Falls Camping - My plan is to camp at Foster Falls.  I plan to take a short hike on the "climber's loop" to see both the top and bottom of the falls and plunge pool.  The Falls are very pretty and have a huge plunge pool at the base.  Foster Falls is only about a 35 minuted drive to the Savage Gulf trail head, so will be convenient getting to SG in the morning.  If you are interested at all in doing this please let me know.  I'll send out more information after having some time to research the camping location. This part is completely flexible and optional... some may want to leave in the afternoon to allow time before dark to see the falls, and some may just want to get there in time to camp at night.  There will still be the normal carpool departure Sunday morning (6:20 AM) as posted.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.