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Hiked this yesterday in the cold and fog. It was indeed a challenging hike but worth it for the many elements and variety.

hiking
3 days ago

Really nice hike. 4 waterfalls and a rugged trail. Interesting water features...some with no outlet. Be sure to take the Sheep Cave side trail. Not a beginner hike.

3 days ago

Strenuous but fun!

So so pretty. Definitely a little challenging but doable. Just have to pay attention to what you’re doing. I would be very reluctant to do this trail after some rain. A lot of rocks but well marked. Virgin Falls at the very end is worth it I promise!

hiking
8 days ago

ran out of time but hiked it for a couple hours. gorgeous. hope to go back and finish.

great hike but better take note of the firwt sign you see it is strenous but well worth it. i do believe we will camp overnight sometime

Love this trail for a good challenge! Be ready for steep inclines and declines!

Its been raining a lot so some of the trail was quite muddy. Bring water proof shoes and you’ll be fine. Awesome trail.

(TL;DR As a workout, by itself, this trail is good for an easy day/recovery day. If you want some spice at the end, do it counterclockwise and charge the ascent.)

Doing it counterclockwise, the trail is a very smooth day-path until you get close to the ascent. Be aware, the first chunk of the trail is paved. There are a couple of fall-to-your-death spots on the way out, but otherwise very easy. The descent is very gentle and afterwards stays level until the ascent. If there has been a lot of rain, your feet will get wet, but nothing past the ankles.

The ascent starts where the trail connects to the Sawmill trail. There will be a number of scrambles, but all of them are brief. The ascent can be quite steep. Charging the ascent was very satisfying, and a person could have a lot of fun running the ascent a few times in a row, I think.

If you're looking to do this as part of the Stone Door Perimeter Loop, this will be the easiest part.

Amazing, beautiful, strenuous... this area is one of God's most beautiful creations!!! The place is awesome. Not for beginners. Like others, we started at the the stone door and took the trail clockwise starting down the Big Creek Gulf trail, to the Big Creek Rim trail, where we had to take a detour onto the shorter Laurel Falls trail to get back to Stone Door do to lack of day time left. The hike out of the gorge to alum gap/Big Creek Rim trail was tough, but doable. Temp outside was about 40°f and by the time we got off the BCG trail and to the top of the gorge, I was down to my short sleeves, no beenie cap, and sweating pretty good. There are so many trails to take here that we are going to be back for sure and do some overnight camping at the primitive campsites and do some multi day hikes. The climb out of Big Creek Gulf trail is definitely no joke. Very doable, but will work your legs and calves big time. Lots of rock scrambling, which was fun, and the Creek was roaring which made it even better. An amazing time in God's country and we will definitely be going back.

3rd time I’ve hiked this trail. Really enjoyed each but liked the winter hikes the best. The underground stream flows make this waterfall hike unique. Be cautious as the descent is deceptive making the return hike more challenging then one might expect especially in summer weather.

hiking
21 days ago

like stepping into a world away. so much to see & explore with eyes wide open, but definitely strenuous for small children or those with weak knees/ankles as there are a lot of slippery, somewhat treacherous spots on the descent. i highly recommend doing the short spur hike up around the top of virgin falls.

hiking
21 days ago

This trail was great. Did this trail twice this summer. On one trip I followed the main trail then took the side trail to martha's pretty point off the main trail. The second time I took the martha's pretty point trail. This trail is a little more open but does get less foot traffic by all the spider webs we had to walk through. Carried a stick with me after a few minutes. Martha's pretty point is a great overlook. There is a point that you have to cross over the creek with a cable. The first time I encountered this it was the morning after a big rain and there was water over the rocks and moving swiftly. A family at the crossing leaving had to remove their shoes and socks to cross as they didn't wear proper footwear. The second time I went the water was not over the rocks and you could cross fine without getting wet at all. There are 4 falls on this trail all of which have their own merits. Honestly, I loved it more after the rain the falls were big and full. This is an out and back trail. The out part is easy you are going downhill the entire time. It is not til you turn around to head back you realize how far down you had traveled. The trek up was exhausting in the July and August heat. I brought 2 L of water in my camelpak and drank almost all of it. *This part I found slightly distressing. My friend and I did encounter another hiker that was in distress. She had ran out of water and food and was feeling dizzy and nauseated. We stopped and gave her snacks and water til she felt better. We exchanged numbers with her to make sure she reached her car safely. YES this hiker was unprepared for the heat and humidity of this strenuous hike, but what was more distressing is that we saw people before us pass her half laying on the trail with her dog sitting with her and didn't ask if she was ok or if she needed aid. Even while we were with her no one asked! Scary! The hiker stated she had done the hike before but the heat and humidity were kicking in over drive that day. Gotta love that southern weather. Morale of the story come prepared even if you are experienced. There is absolutely no cell service down in the valley that the trail is in. This girl could have had a heat stroke in the middle of the trail and no one bothered to check on her and she could not call for aid. Rant complete sorry * The trail was great it was a little hard at times but nothing too crazy. It is a fun challenging trail. When I hiked it the sheep cave trail was partially closed. I don't know if this has been re-opened at this time or not.

This was an intense hike but was awesome. I took the SD to the gulf and up to the rim. The climb down was rocky and you just have to be careful you don't sprain anything because it would be a long way out. I did not see any snakes on my hike this summer but with all the rocks I was constantly looking. I took the ranger trial to the falls and it was absolutely beautiful.The creek bed was dry so it was an easy passing. I passed a hand full of people on the trail so it wasn't too busy. I don't know if I would take my dog on this trail as I would be worried of them coming upon a snake or spraining something on the rocks. The gulf trail if you did an out and back would be fine with pets.On the trek up to the rim the river and the bottom of the gulf looks fun and inviting if I had not been doing just a day hike and camped out I would have loved to have spent time there. The trek up was pretty rough some spots with loose gravel and then there was a section that warned of bees. The bees were fine but I did get chased up hill by a hornet that wasn't happy with me. The rim was awesome. At the first overlook I sat down and ate my long awaited lunch. It was peaceful and beautiful. I watched a few of the birds just soaring over head. Once you're on the rim trail its pretty much flat. I did notice there was some soil erosion around one of the bends and overlooks on the trail that looked like it needed some tending to. All in all I loved this trail it had a beautiful waterfall, amazing overlooks, and a good demanding hike.

hiking
22 days ago

Absolutely incredible hike. Great trail, good signage, and decent workout.

We did this hike as an overnight backpacking trip and really enjoyed it. It was challenging especially in the areas where you had to scramble over the rocks. Had a little difficulty following the trail markings at times. Beautiful park!

Hiked this trail a couple of weeks ago... stunning views and a moderately hard trail. Thanks to the CT for all of your hard work!!!

If you like rim views, this trail is for you. I recommend the short extension off of this trail to Greeter Falls too. Adds a little mileage but it is definitely worth it.

A lot of downed trees once you near the campsite. Hard but worth the views!

Fun trail. Pretty views. Definitely worth exploring the waterfall. Poured rain on us most of the way out, but still worth it!

backpacking
1 month ago

Trail was pretty easy to follow and there are plenty of waterfalls to look at along the way. On the hike in, we went up to Martha’s Pretty Point from the junction just past the cable crossing (solid uphill but nice view and campground). We stayed for about 15 minutes and then left and went back down to the main trail. Finished the trail and at the Falls loop junction (past Big Laurel Falls) we continued straight (lower trail) and down the rocky ridge. Rocky is 100% correct. It’s a rough downhill but nothing terrible. At the “T” we continued to the right and on to Virgin Falls (to the left is Caney Fork River). Great waterfall and a nice camp area. We took the spur trail to the top of the Falls. Very short trip and an easy place to get water if you’re staying here overnight.
There is a junction here to continue on to Lost Creek Trail but we didn’t go that way. We stayed the night and then continued the loop (upper trail), past Sheep Cave, and then back to the main Virgin Falls trail. If you’re not planning to do the entire Falls loop....take the UPPER trail on the way in and out. It’s less rocky, more flat, and generally easier.

The trail itself could use more trail markers past Big Laurel Falls but if you take a little time you can find the trail if you look ahead.
Wood had been pretty well picked through if you’re trying to build a campfire but go a little further out from your camp and you’re sure to find something that has fallen.

Overall a good hike and one I would do again.

Lots of waterfalls in a short hike. Easy in harder out. Like a fellow said we met on the trail “it’s all downhill till you turn around”! He was pretty much on the mark. Slippery rocks and leaves in winter but spring and fall would be awesome!

This trail is great. It has beautiful overlooks and cool natural features. It isn’t very hard either.
Also near the beginning of this trail, there is a short trail that leads to a waterfall. This trail is kind of hard but worth it.

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely incredible. I live in Nashville, and this trail tops my list for hikes that are within reasonable driving distance. Spectacular scenery with every step.

backpacking
1 month ago

Our 1st overnight experience. Going in was easy. Coming out was another story. Trails needs to be marked better, especially heading up to Sheep Cove from Virgin Falls. Next time, we will set up camp closer to trailhead or enter via the other side.

Loved it. Overcast day, but still some beautiful patches of color even after most of the leaf fall. The bare trees revealed some pretty awesome views, and the recent rain had water flowing along most of trail. Hiked it counterclockwise to get that biggie out of the way first. But don't worry, ascent is gradual enough to warm you up before it gets vertical. And even if we hadn't been able to see distances, the sights along the way, including some substantial boulder formations, are worth the trip out there. Nice steep, lengthy uphills if that's your thing ;) Will look familiar if you're AT-friendly. Go on and do it in one day if you already know how you handle long steep ups and long steep downs. If you're just starting out, wouldn't recommend the whole thing in one clip. But good-looking back country campsites, so maybe break it in half for your first demanding overnight. Overall, a gorgeous, challenging trail. 8 hour hike, including about an hour of total breaks.

Trail was awesome. Needs better trail blazes on the backside of the trail.

Great trail with wonderful views! I was impressed with how well the trail is marked throughout the route. I would also strongly echo what others have posted - go clockwise (big creek gulf first) or else you are in for a very steep scramble at the end of 9 miles!

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