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Savage Gulf Backpack Loop

The Basics:
Event Type:Backpacking
Event Location: Savage Gulf Natural Area, Palmer , TN   Backpacking: Savage Gulf Backpack Loop  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Fri, Oct 11 2013  7:30 am >> Sun, Oct 13 2013 5:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 7:30 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Thu, Sep 19 2013 8:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Wed, Oct 9 2013 12:00 am
Event Duration:2 Days 9 Hours 30 Minutes
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult (Exploratory)
Distance:19.9 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Mike Pawloski
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:10
Minimum Group Size:4
Number Registered So Far: 7 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: Yes

Note: This is an "EXPLORATORY" trip. This means that there are parts of this trip, or perhaps the whole trip, that is new to your Trip Leader(s). However, they are confident that this will not be an issue.
This note is here so that you can make an informed decision. When a Trip Leader isn't personally familiar with a trip, there is an increased chance of things not going as planned and you need to be prepared. The Trip Leader may have additional details in the itinerary.


Located in central Tennesse in the South Cumberland mountains, 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.  This natural area is a part of the South Cumberland State Park.  Savage Gulf is on the Registry of National Natural Landmarks.

This is two night backpacking trip.  Please have prior multi-night backpacking experience.  In addition, please have a reasonable level of fitness (enough to complete ~20 miles of intermediate to advanced backpacking and avoid the dreaded "bonk"!)

The number of dogs is limited to 2, and there will already be one dog, Cedar, attending the event.  Please be aware that the Connector Trail we'll be hiking on Day 2 is very rocky and may be difficult for some dogs to traverse. 

The hike is structured so that we can maximize our time in the wilderness enjoying this remote and primitive area.  The tentative itinerary is as follows.  

Day 1 - Arrive at the Ranger Station and register.  We'll then start out on our 8.2 mile hike to Hobbs’s Cabin, where we will spend our first night.  It's a fairly easy route and there are a lot of beautiful overlooks along the North Rim Trail that we'll be hiking.  Plan on stopping frequently along the way to enjoy the scenery.  Once at camp, we'll set-up, gather some firewood, and prepare dinner while enjoying camaraderie and fellowship.

Day 2 - The days hike will be 5.8 miles.  We'll leave late in the morning and begin day 2 by hiking along the Connector Trail.  This is a very rocky and treacherous stretch; therefore we will not be in any hurry so as to avoid injury or mishaps.   At mile 11.2 we'll stop at Sawmill campsite to check it out and take a break.  We will continue up the historic Stagecoach Trail, another rocky and rough climb.  The scenery is interesting here, as huge boulders litter the forest.  At mile 14 we will reach Stage Road campsite, where we will spend our second night.  There is a spring located nearby for water.  Once at camp, like the first night, we'll gather some firewood and prepare dinner while enjoying camaraderie and fellowship.  

Day 3 - The final days hike will be 5.9 miles.  On our last day, we'll plan on getting an earlier start.  The South Rim Trail that we'll be hiking follows the same pattern of the North Rim Trial that we hiked on Day 1 - cross a stream bed, then head to the rim edge and an overlook, then dip back and hike along to another overlook.  Most of the overlooks are accessed on spur trails, and most of the streambeds will be dry under normal conditions.  Overlooks will be found at 14.1 miles, 14.3 miles, 14.5 miles, 14.7 miles, and 14.8 miles.  At mile 15.1 we can check out the remains of an old moonshine still.  There are several more overlooks until mile 18.5, where we cross a suspension bridge and complete the loop portion of our hike.  The final 1.4 miles returns us back to the Savage Gulf Ranger Station.

Required Items to Bring:

Backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent, water, food, extra clothes, PMA (Positive Mental Attitude), Sense of Humor!

Please bring sufficient cash to cover car pool costs if you plan to travel as a passenger with another attendee.

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

I will carry one Sven Saw and one collapsible bucket.  It will be helpful to have a second saw and second bucket.

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

Trailhead GPS Coordinates are: N35 26.06' / W85 32.38'

Ranger Station Address: 31557 State Route 399, Palmer, TN 37365

We need to register at the Ranger Station before beginning our hike.

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):360Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 7:30 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $144.00 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.


Here's a link to a book by Johnny Molloy that provides the details for this particular Savage Gulf backpackng loop trip:

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

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