Collins Gulf and Stagecoach Road Historic Trails is a 12.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Gruetli-Laager, TN that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
The Collins West portion of the loop is becoming overgrown with thorns and bushes. The Stagecoach portion of the loop is a solid rock trail that is rough on the knees and ankles. The different waterfall areas were very nice even though there was no water.
Stagecoach road trail SUCKS. Something like 1.6 miles down a pretty decent slope and the trail is littered with baseball-size and larger LOOSE rocks. We were lucky not to break an ankle on this trail. They should rename this trail the "Pecan Deathmarch." It was much more difficult hiking it downhill than uphill. Despite its difficulty (which, to AllTrails' credit, it's marked as "difficult") there's not really much to see.
Wow, what a trail and I didn't even do the hardest part I've been told. Arrived at noon on Friday and took the Collins gulf trail. This trail was mostly down hill to the Collins River crossing and then on to Sawmill camp ground. Now I've not been on the trail since May and I'm not in the best of shape but my 25# pack with the warm weather was hard on me. Add to this a tough night camping as it was so hot and not even a slight breeze but what I expected in summer. So I decide to not make the entire loop and come back up the Collins Gulf trail. Since I didn't sleep I got up at 5 am to beat the heat. It was a tough hike out. Being exhausted from the day before I was hurting when I arrived back at my car. It's now Sunday and I'm so sore I can hardly walk. I think this trail would be much easier in cooler weather and if I were in a bit better shape. So I give the trail 5 stars as there's plenty to see as in Suter falls (slight trickle) and HorsePound falls (decent flow) but I will warn anyone this is a tough trail with a lot of rocks and rough terrain.
This was a great trail to hike. I was glad to have my trekking poles though, as there are many areas with rocks and boulders. I did the whole loop solo in about 6.5 Hours with 25lbs in my pack. I had to break out some rain gear halfway. I would recommend hiking it counter clock ways. If it has rained or is raining while on this trail, be prepared for lots of slick rocks to manuver over. If your not an experienced hiker in good shape I would not try to finish it in a single day hike. I would also hike it with another person as the potential for injury from falling is high, especially with all the Rocky terrain.
Within minutes of pulling into the Collins Gulf parking lot, the park ranger was at the scene (thank goodness) and offered me some great advice about the trail-to start backwards, with the rough boulder fields first, and to take plenty of water (he asked if I had a water filter, because it would be helpful, but I am somewhat new to hiking and figured my Camelbak and a couple extra Nestle water bottles would suffice, and it did) as well as bring a trail map on my journey.
The first couple miles were difficult, and I spent time half of the time trying to locate the white blazes- when I was unsure if I was headed in the right direction, I looked behind me for the blazes going in the opposite direction and whichever direction the blazes were facing, was the direction I headed. The boulder fields, although hard, are fun and challenging, but it would be a great idea to either have trekking poles or find some sturdy branches to help aid in the rocky terrains.
This trail has it all- from rainforest-like lush greens to waterfalls (especially the waterfall at the end) to springs, bridges, and caves, it will not disappoint.
I hiked solo, but would recommend company while on this trail, as it easily takes 5-7 hours (I was averaging about 20-25 min miles because altitude + rocks= longer time).
I was expecting (but hoping not) to see a snake or two, but thankfully, no snakes today- lots of other critters though, and I even saw an eagle's giant shadow.
This trail was fun, and I hope to do it again, but with another person next time :) Enjoy.
Trails are well-kept, nice waterfalls and swinging bridge with primitive camping.
I hiked this alone in late March (middle aged woman) -- a little scary at first, but a great experience. Lots of wildflowers, but will have to go back when the laurel and rhododendrons are in bloom. Began the 13 mile trek from the West lot, checked Suter Falls out, then back to to the loop in a counter clockwise direction to get the heaviest boulder fields out of the way. I've done lots of hikes in TN, NC, WA State, etc., and this was easily the most difficult. Tons of hiking over huge boulders, numerous stream crossings (none too deep when I went), and some climbing, especially at the end. I took lots of pictures, which slowed me down, and completed the loop in 6 hours. My normal hiking pace is between 13 and 15 minutes per mile (18 when climbing), but the rocky terrain slowed me way down. So allow plenty of time to get out of the woods before dark! I needed at least 2L of water for the loop in 62 degree temps -- wish I'd had more. Several guys had told me they hike Collins/Stagecoach in running shoes -- glad I didn't listen, as just over the ankle lightweight hikers gave me much needed protection and stability. Great great hike, beautiful views, multiple waterfalls and streams... But when you read that it's a trek for experienced hikers, believe that!
Very difficult but beautiful hike. Take plenty of water and give yourself time. I would suggest doing the trail counter clockwise so you get the hard boulder field out of the way. The valley is beautiful. Don't forget your camera.
Absolutely stunning and very challenging
This is my favorite loop hike. I hiked it solo in early Spring 2015. Wildflowers are abundant in the gulf and on Stagecoach Road. If you take the spurs to Horsepound Falls and Schwoon Spring the hike is 13.5 miles. Waterfalls, overlooks, boulder fields, this hike has it all. Skinny Falls was an awesome surprise after the climb out of the gulf on Stagecoach Road.
My boyfriend and I just completed this loop. We started towards suter falls towards sawmill campground, making a connector loop around stage coach and back towards collins east campground. It was a great trail but extremely difficult and seemed to be 14 miles not 12. It was very dry out so water was a bit scarce. Schwoon spring had the best water throughout the loop. It was also the last main water source for almost 4 miles passed sawmill. If we hike this loop again we would probably start towards collins east rather than towards suter falls due to the uphill terrain and boulder fields for the last 8 or so miles.
I took the west access trail to Suter Falls and then headed on down the rim trail to the larger bridge. I didn't go past that point. The trail is very difficult. I knew there would be rocks but I just wasn't expecting what was there. It was practically all rocks. Good Day hike though. Will go back in the fall.
Great hike but very difficult for me, 73 years old, on the boulders. Trekking poles (2) are of great assistance. Would have given 5 stars if the information obtained from the rangers had been a little more specific regarding that portion of the trail. There were 3 adults and 6 children and all of us successfully completed the hike. There was adequate water available, whether using a gravitational filter system or a filter pump. Campsites were well marked and in great condition.
Gorgeous trail. The waterfalls make it worth the hike. Went after a steady rain earlier in the week and the falls were spectacular. I suggest walking sticks to help maneuver the rocks.
This trail has a lot more to offer than I originally thought. Multiple waterfalls and cascades close together that make you feel like you're deep in a jungle. Great hike for any season. During the spring, summer and fall you can admire the overlooks, while the winter is the best time to see all the waterfalls and the river. Back-country camping is also great around Collins East and West campsites.
Good hike..some pretty falls along the way. Lots of other pretty scenery too. Rocky in a few areas..but not too difficult. Worth it:) saw 2 snakes along the way so watch your step..
Though I can't recall my specific experience on this portion of the South Cumberland State Natural Area, as I was much younger, I will say that at no point does this park disappoint. Scenic views, plenty of water sources and well maintained trails make for great hiking ALL across South Cumberland State Park. A goal of mine is to work hard to complete every trail in the park in a week's time...I believe that's 88+ miles of some of the best hiking in the Southeastern US.