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[TL:DR This trail, by itself, is a solid workout, if subdued. You won't be doing any rock fields or sharp ascents, just moderate, but continuous, elevation changes over 13 mi. The lack of technical or demanding spots make it a solid winter weather trail, as well.]

If you choose to do the trail by itself, you can park directly at trailhead. It won't really make any difference if you go clockwise or counter-clockwise. The clockwise side does have a bit more open space on trail, but nothing much other than that.

The main benefit for this trail is that it's a continuous, moderate grind over a moderate distance. There's no single part of it that will push you to any kind of a limit. I wouldn't recommend it as a recovery trail, and not as an easy day, either, but it occupies a happy middle.

However, if you want to add some challenge, there are plenty of connecting trails close to its trailhead, so you can easily tack on some extra miles and difficulty. I look forward to linking this and the Lower Loop for a one-day this summer.

As for appearance, I recommend going after a good amount of rain. You'll have a number of minor fords, but it's easily worth it for all the rivers and streams that pop up or flood after a good rainfall. This area really shows off that jade color spectrum the waters at this park can have. Both the campsites take full advantage of this to create some truly beautiful pockets along this trail.

Very challenging trail for me, as it was my first back country camping trip, luckily I had my brother in law with me who has been here a couple of times and he was a big help. We did the trail clockwise and had no reals issue other than being out of shape with a heavy pack on. The trail is clearly marked and I agree with some of the other reviews that the mile markers are not entirely accurate. Please be cautious, as the the leaves and rocks are extremely slippery due to the recent rains. It took us a 3.5 hours to get to our campsite (3) and the next morning it took us 2 hours finish. I consider this moderate to strenuous. I will definitely hike this trail again.

hiking
2 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.

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!

Very technical trail, but nevertheless, a fun and beatiful trail running opportunity!

"Moderate"? Ha! No, I'd say more like moderately strenuous. It's well marked, beautiful scenery, a few small creek crossings, and a spectacular waterfall about 5.5 miles in (I hiked clockwise from the trailhead parking lot). Lots of ups and downs. Mostly ups! Took me close to 5 hours, and I'm usually a fairly fast hiker. I've hiked plenty of 8-12 mile trails, and this one sure seems longer than 8 miles :)
But it's beautiful, and I'd do it again. I'm willing to bet there are many wildflowers to see in the spring. Fall would be spectacular, too.

hiking
7 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.

Beautiful day to hike, cool temps and a little wind. Trail was wet and this slippery. Well marked with orange blazers.

Just hiked the Gahuti trail today and it was gorgeous. it was quite foggy and moist but this made the hike extra mystic and romantic. there are just so many different type of vegetations. not many people either so the dog had a blast too. instead of doing the Gahuti only we cut through the Goldmine Creek Trail along the lake and through the Big Rock Trail. worth seeing.

Rough! Lots of tree roots, rocks and wet spots. Came in at 8.67 miles total and took just over 3 hours. Lots of water crossings. Too foggy to see the views but the park is gorgeous!! Would rate this mod- strenuous.

Great hike for the day. Filled with hills and panoramic views.

Nice day hike. Trail is fairly marked. Rocks at the top and overlook well worth the trip. It took 3 hours including 15 minute lunch at the overlook.

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.

nothing to see, lots of blowdown

hiking
20 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.

hiking
22 days ago

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

We hiked this trail in early spring 2018. I had my 4 year old son (who can go all day today swear), wife and 8 year old son. When the powerhouse releases water it can come up on the trail and be a little dangerous . It’s a nice easy hike. If you go early, before they release water, fishing is really fun. The small pools hold all the fish, making them an easy target. We only hiked a couple miles in and back. I’m sure the 16 mile trek would be great.

Easy to follow moderate trail to beautiful overlook, old house chimneys, spring house, Windless Cave.

Great trail, well blazed, with a lot of waterfalls. It was foggy the day that we went, so unfortunately couldn’t see any of the views, but it was still a great hike. Completed it as marked in 3 hours.

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

This is a well marked trial, but the dozens of fallen trees make it harder to navigate. The views from the lower trail are better, but this trail still had a lot to offer. It is marked as an overnight trail, but it can certainly be covered in a day.

hiking
1 month ago

beautiful place. long hike usually see no one. fall has gorgeous views.

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!

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.

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