Fiery Gizzard Reroute

Fiery Gizzard at Tracy City, TN was a phenomenal hike before the reroute, earning recognition across the southeast as a must-do trail with breathtaking views, many water sources, a gorgeous waterfall complete with swimming hole at BOTH ends!  At just 13 miles with 2 overnight camping spots along the route, it was perfect for a challenging day hike or a weekend with some buddies.Along came the reroute and a few things changed.

The reason for the reroute was that 2 adjacent landowners near Ravens Point asked for the trail to be moved off their property.  The trail crosses a few sections of privately owned land and that arrangement has relied on hikers and landowners working together.  I am unsure what happened, but I do know that the last time I thruhiked this trail before the reroute, a group of college aged kids had set up camp on the Conry property, which is well within earshot of 3 houses even if they can’t be seen through the trees.  At 10 a.m. they were drunk and howling.  So, I will put forth a completely unconfirmed supposition that things of this sort were part of the decision.  I am sure they did nothing in favor of hikers at any rate.

One of the changes for the worse was that the trail lost a campsite at Ravens Point, now the only camping along the route is 2 miles from Foster Falls at Small Wilds (well, and Father Adamz, but that is 200 yards or so from the same end of the trail).  There is also camping at Foster Falls with pull in sites and hot showers (no power or water at the sites) and at the CCC campsites at Grundy Forest about half a mile walk past the parking area.

 

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The trail from Foster Falls to Small Wilds is easy walking with several overlooks and small creek crossings.  These little creeks spill off over the rim making lots of noise that when combined with the wind in the pines makes for a relaxing break when stopping to get water.
Treat all water along the route and do not get water from the stream on the Doghole Trail that is located at the point the trail drops off the rim (it is unmistakable).  Twice we have passed it and it’s been full of washing machine runoff from a local house.  The water reeked of fabirc softener and the pools had a soapy rim.

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Past Small Wilds, the trail turns sharply to the left and drops off into Laurel Gorge.

The trail is unchanged until just before Ravens Point.  It drops off the rim and follows just under the edge and then…

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…it goes under a waterfall!

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I will admit, this was my favorite part. But I did once haul 3 carloads of people to North Carolina to drive under a waterfall because-UNDER a waterfall!  So I may be biased, but I do find them magical.
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The trail stays just inder the rim.  Wildfires hit the area last fall and that’s ash all over, not shadows.  It’s hard to tell because it was so bright the day we hiked.

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I hiked this with 4 teens, Paycheck and a surprise guest-Journey!  He hiked with a leg bag full of beef jerky, JEANS, a cotton sweater, his leather shoes from ballroom dance class and a couple water bottles clipped to his belt.  And a cooldana around his head.  And I think he fared better than any of us with our packs and boots.
Look how that trail drops off!
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This is what I am calling the Anderson Falls corridor.
It is the most challenging and beautiful stretch of the whole reroute.
The trail drops down quickly with a very short side track to Anderson Falls, which is 100% worth taking. From where the girls are sitting, the stairs built by the property owners can be seen.  I have walked those several times as a guest and they were tough.  There are 200 of them.


The reroute goes way, way, way below this point.  The climb is probably 3 times this distance.

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It’s such a pretty spot!  I suggest stopping at this point for a snack because I didn’t and the climb out was tough.

That being said, just writing about this stretch has me itching to get back on it!

The trail at the top meanders around closer to the rim than before, there is currently (March 17) wildfire damage.  It runs into the trail to the Ravens Point overlook, which we skipped this time because it was going to get dark on us.  We took Doghole down to the Grundy Forest stretch.

Once across the bridge and back on the final stretch on the day loop trail, there are some minor reroutes to battle trail damage, but they are easy to navigate.

If this trail is not on your list, it needs to be!

 

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