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    susan norwood reviewed Window Cliffs

    5 months ago

    A friend and I did the trail in 4 hours from 11 AM to 3 PM. We are middle-aged women in decent shape. We took our time and were in no hurry. We ate lunch at the second creek crossing and took time to sit in the creeks when we got hot. This was the hottest day of the year this summer. There are some portions that required us to walk in the full sun, so sunscreen, hats, bandanna, and sunglasses are a good idea.

    There is one trail and it is well-blazed and marked with signage that tells you how far to the actual cliffs and how far back to the parking lot. The trail is well-maintained although it narrows in parts. It wasn't too overgrown and the proof was that I had no ticks at the end of it. I have had ticks on other trails this summer (Bearwaller Gap in Carthage , TN).

    There are only 2 strenupus parts. One is the ascent up to the cliffs, which is 0.75 miles. The other tough part is the climb out at the end of the hike. Even with the switchbacks, the last mile is steep and I had to stop and catch my breath several times. I am not that out of shape, but it was HOT!

    There are 9 creek crossings - marked as "CC" on the trail. Only crossings 3 and 4 were dry. The rest had water. It was so nice to walk through the cool water. You get to go through these same 9 creek crossings on the way back. My friend and I wore water shoes. I wore Chacos and she wore Keens. I checked out other hikers on the trail and the majority wore some kind of water shoe. Most also wore clothes that would allow them to get wet.

    There are no bathrooms at the trailhead other than port-a-potties. No vending machines, so take a lot of water, at least a liter. I take two just to be on the safe side. Pets are not allowed on the trails. This is a kid-friendly trail until you get to the actual cliffs, which are very narrow. I would not want to take young kids up on the cliffs.

    We had a good time and will definitely go back!

    susan norwood completed Window Cliffs

    5 months ago

    susan norwood reviewed Bearwaller Gap Hiking Trail

    6 months ago

    This trail needs maintenance badly. My friend and I decided to hike it spur-of-the moment today. I hike all 12 miles of this trail 2-3x a year. I expect it to be weedy and overgrown when it is late summer.

    Well, it is only mid-May and it is already overgrown. In 2 weeks, parts of the trail will be covered. Bearwaller needs "friends" or rangers with weed-whackers. My friend and I turned backed after going out from the picnic/camping/marina area trailhead to the 2.5 mile marker. It was just too dang weedy.

    Yeah, there are nice overlooks and the trail gives you a workout, but it isn't worth the weeds. I took 2 ticks off of my ankles when we got back to the car. When I got home to Nashville, I discovered 3 more tiny ticks on my socks and 2 more stuck in my skin. I sprayed bug spray with Deet on myself before I did the hike, but it didn't do the job.

    If you hike this trail, be prepared for overgrowth and ticks. Wear long pants and use bug spray. I personally will not hike it again until maybe late October.

    susan norwood reviewed Sitton's Gulch Trail

    11 months ago

    I hiked this with my 30-something daughter today. Do the math. If I can do it, you can do it. Just a few side notes. We stayed at a yurt. The yurts are charming and back up to the Rim Trail. BUT, despite a space heater, you will not be warm once it goes down to about 30 degrees. We brought 15 degree bags. It is easier to heat up a tent with body heat than a yurt. I have tent camped here in January and was warmer in a tent than in a yurt. Also, the wood that the park sold us was green. Seriously, it will not burn. It will char and smoke. Forage for your own downed wood. Now to the trail.

    Do the Waterfalls Trail. It is short but has a couple of seriously slippery spots. Don't do this in tennis shoes. Just get yourself some hiking boots. This trail is short. Next do Sitton's Gulch.

    After the 600 metal-grated and stone steps, you have about a half hour of rolling trail- constant ups and downs with little flat. It is easy-peasy going downhill. After a half hour, you hit very easy flat land. It ends at a parking lot with two buildings. Don't get excited. These aren't bathrooms, just changing rooms.

    Turn around and go back about 2.5 miles. Yes, it is fairly strenuous going back up hill, but there are plenty of places to stop and catch your breath. After about 30 minutes, you hit a small water crossing where you can pick your way across rocks even when the water is flowing. 10 minutes later, you are at the metal and stone stairs. It is arduous, but even I made it back to the trailhead in about 15 minutes.

    Bottom Line: Very well marked and maintained trails. Beautiful waterfalls and overlooks.

    Note: The Bear Creek Backcountry Trail is closed until the park settles some contract issues with private landowners.

    Food alert: I have always stopped at fast food places post hike, but discovered a much better place to eat, the Artzy Café. It is minutes outside of the park. Great food and atmosphere. Not a chain!

    susan norwood completed Sitton's Gulch Trail

    11 months ago

    susan norwood reviewed Timberland Park

    11 months ago

    This park has 9 short trails, all of which are under 1 mile. The total mileage for the park is 3 to 3.5 miles. It's not a big park, but it is delightful in many ways.

    For starters, it is in the town of Leipers Fork, a trendy, artsy town known to attract people in the music biz. Enjoy its restaurants and shops. Puckett's Grocery is a great place to eat, as is the Loveless Café. Check them out after you hike.

    The trails at Timberland are close to other trails on the Natchez Trace, namely the Old Trace and Garrison Creek Loop trails. You can easily do both in the same day. Warning: GPS's are not the most dependable in this area. But even if you drive around in circles, it is scenic. No commercial businesses on the Natchez McDonalds, nail salons, etc. It is a pretty drive.

    The park has great parking and a visitors center. Folks in the center are happy to chat. I could just hang out there, quite honestly. There is a nice fireplace, bathrooms, maps and brochures, and free walking sticks to borrow.

    The trails are short and a person can configure various hikes. Make your hike long or short. There is variety to the trails. They go down to a dry creek bed and then up to a ridge- many times. You can get a bit of a workout, but it isn't strenuous, because the trails are short. I still recommend a stick or trekking poles.

    The trails are super-well marked with color-coded metal blazes that correspond to the map. You won't get lost here. The trails are quiet without much traffic. My friend and I only passed 2 couples and 1 single. There are benches along the way. These trails offer a good introduction to hiking. They are also good for Nashvillians like me who just want to get outside for a few hours.

    Bottom line: Beautiful natural area. Easy hike for those who are used to hiking, but there is enough ascent/descent that it could be difficult for folks who don't walk much.

    You will come upon trails that are on private property: Big East Fork Reserve. I have hiked on these trails too, but being on private property, they weren't well-marked the last time I hiked them, so I stuck with the trails in Timberland. I will be back and plan to make this a place where I hike regularly. No crowds. Just peaceful and pretty.

    susan norwood updated Timberland Park

    11 months ago

    susan norwood reviewed Bearwaller Gap Hiking Trail

    12 months ago

    I have hiked this trail many times and in many seasons, and there is one patch that has always been difficult to follow. My daughter and I hiked this trail the day after Thanksgiving. We got a late start, so we knew that we couldn't do the whole trail which is around 10 miles (5 miles there and back). We began at the Defeated Creek Campground. Almost immediately you come upon a boulder garden that makes for many good photo opportunities. Then the trail gets narrow and starts climbing. When you get to the top, you get a choice of 2 trails to connect with the main one. One is labeled "Easy," and the other is labeled "Difficult." We took the Difficult one. It was a very steep descent, made even more difficult by the slippery, slide-y leaves. Hiking poles definitely helped. We proceeded down to a dried up little waterfall close to the inlet (looks like the first "v" on the map). It is a pretty little nook, where we stopped and ate lunch. The next part of the trail goes along the lake. In the summer it was hugely overgrown and weedy. Not so in the winter. The next part of the trail climbs to an overlook. Very scenic and worth the climb. We stopped at the overlook and turned around, because we didn't want to be on the trail in the dark. Much of the trail is covered up by leaves, so you have to depend upon the blazes. Some areas are very well blazed, but others are not. Coming back, we decided to take the "Easy" route...both of us agreed that the "Easy" route was harder than the "Difficult" route! Why? Poor blazing. The blazes are blue dots (2 dots=Easy trail; 1 dot= Difficult). On this portion of the trail, which is maybe a quarter-half mile, many of the dots are severely faded. The Easy trail has lots of switchbacks. Again, you cannot see the trail at all under the leaves. You have to keep a close eye on the dots. Do not talk to your hiking buddy or lose focus here. If you get off the trail, you will be on the side of a steep, slippery slope. Also, make sure to get off the trail while you have adequate daylight. At this time of the year, I would not get off one minute later than 4:00 p.m. The blazes are just too hard to see in fading light. Overall, I love this trail and its geographical diversity. Just be prepared for an unclear patch of trail. Also, we stopped by the visitors center and got a nice colored map. The brochure says that the "trail is a moderate hike for the majority of the distance. However there are some steep changes in elevation." This is true for people who are in good shape and can handle 10 miles of regular ups and downs. I would not advise it for someone who isn't an experienced hiker. Those who are inexperienced should find it fun, but challenging.

    susan norwood reviewed Fiery Gizzard Trail

    over 4 years ago

    My 26-year-old daughter and I did the 9.7 mile loop from the Grundy Forest Picnic Shelter to the Fiery Gizzard Trail up to Raven Point and then back to the Shelter via the Dog Hole Trail. I backpack a lot and she is very physically-fit, but still this was a hard hike for both of us. The first couple of miles weren't too bad. We stopped to watch some swimmers at Sycamore Falls for about 10 minutes. After the Fruit Bowl, it seemed to be nothing but rocks. The official park trail map said that an "arduous climb" started at 3.7 miles. We felt like we had 3 arduous climbs before the "real" arduous climb. We made it Raven Point and enjoyed a 20 minute food break. The return via the Dog Hole Trail was easy in comparison. It was along the ridge on a nice sandy, non-rocky path. Our hike took us 7 hours which included a half hour of break time. We tried to move briskly, since we started out hike at 12 noon and needed to finish before it got dark. There is no way to go fast over rocks. We felt good to know that we had a completed a Difficult hike. It was very scenic. We plan to return to swim in Sycamore Falls and Blue Hole Falls. If you want to take an easier route: see the Falls, backtrack, and go up to Raven Point via the Dog Hole Trail.