Big Creek Gulf, Big Creek Rim, and Stone Door Trails Loop

HARD 158 reviews

Big Creek Gulf, Big Creek Rim, and Stone Door Trails Loop is a 8.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Beersheba Springs, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
8.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,541 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

Savage Gulf has multiple trail sections. This loop includes the Big Creek Gulf (BCG), Big Creek Rim (BCR) and Stone Door (SD) Trails to create a 9.5 mile loop. Savage Gulf is located near Beersheba Springs, Tennessee. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking.

The trail was amazing today. We took everyone’s advise and went clockwise and glad we did. Thanks to all before us for that tip. Ranger Falls was beautiful and the scenic overlooks were amazing. Ended up taking us about 5 1/2 hours and right at 10 miles. We are totally sore and can hardly walk but had a great time and plan on doing again in the fall.

22 days ago

I did the trail this past weekend. Went in at Stone Door ( best heed everyone's advice and do likewise), and took the BCR back to the ranger's station. I made it a point to check out Ranger Falls, although it was running slow as expected. With the side trip to the falls, plus the extra couple of miles that the leg from the ranger's station adds, my pedometer showed just over 12.2 miles. I was going to wait til fall or winter when the views would be better. but a free Saturday was available so off I went. Not as tough a hike as the Fiery Gizzard, but tough enough to leave me plenty sore the next day. Believe all you read about the long climb out.....seemed like the uphill would *never* end! I'm 67, fairly fit, and hike regularly, but this trail will remind you for a couple of days of your experience. Will definitely go back!

camping
23 days ago

This was an awesome hike! We entered via the Stone Door Trail and continued on the Big Creek Gulf Trail and spent the night at Alum Gap campsite#2. The water source at Alum Gap (creek crossing 100ft down the GreeterFalls Trail) was dry so we actually had to go downstream about 30yds, until we found a small pool of water. The BCG trail is a beautiful trail with huge boulders. The last part of the trail that goes back up to Alum Gap is long and steep but worth every step.

hiking
25 days ago

Nice trail with some challenging uphill areas. The Stone Door was really cool and there were some great views from the Big Creek Rim. We started with the Stone Door, then Big Creek Gulf, and finished with Big Creek Rim. Unfortunately there was no water in the riverbed so we decided not to take on the extra mile to Ranger Falls...wasn't sure if it would be flowing. We were a group of 5 plus a pup -- the pup handled the rocky areas really well but it may a bit difficult for less experienced hiking dogs! With a few breaks it took us about 5 hours to complete the whole loop.

2 months ago

In my opinion, the Big Creek Rim trail hiked in conjunction with the Stone Door trail is the best hike in South Cumberland Park. The views are the best, it’s a great mix of challenging and easy, there are descents and climbs, great overlooks, and outcroppings for lunch or rest. In rainy conditions, you might have to ford a few creeks.

hiking
2 months ago

This is a great trail that is well marked and challenging at times. Lots of large rocky areas and great overlooks. Ranger Falls is a nice add on at the cost of an extra mile round trip.

2 months ago

Beautiful hike but be prepared or just stay on the rim.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful trail! Would highly recommend. My dog and I did the ~9 mile loop and we both really enjoyed it. I agree with the previous reviewer that you should walk through the stone door area FIRST otherwise you're in for an excruciating last mile or so. Be careful this time of year about ticks! My dog (who doesn't stick to the trail completely) had 3 or 4 on him after he was bathed that I had to pull off. He has a flea and tick collar too, so I can only imagine how bad it might have been without it. It took us about 4.5 hrs to complete: we kept a pretty good pace while walking but stopped momentarily in a few places to enjoy the view.

4 months ago

Great day hike if you are looking for something more challenging than a leisurely stroll. Allow enough time to complete your hike as necessary, the spur trail to Ranger Falls is a MUST. STRONGLY RECOMMEND starting with Gulf trail from Stone Door and finishing with Rim trail to allow time for recovery. Otherwise you will be making a steep ascent over rocks and some boulders to end your hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Moderate to difficult trail. I hiked this in a race day, so Big Creek Gulf was very well-marked, but I’m not sure it always is. Nice variation of terrain. I did it clockwise, so went down Stone Door first, then Big Creek Gulf (which was fun and loud from all the rain), then took the Big Creek Rim back, which was easy and flat after all the work in the first few miles. Highly recommend.

backpacking
4 months ago

Backpacked down Stone Door, along Big Creek Gulf trail and back up to Alum Gap campsite. Lots of rock hopping so the proper footwear is essential. Ranger Falls was gushing due to all the recent rain. You have to walk a bit to find firewood as it is picked clean around the Alum Gap campsite. Nice overlooks on the hike out along Big Creek Rim trail. Strenuous hike but worth it.

5 months ago

Went through Stone Door into the gorge. Very rocky, but once down there, wildflowers were everywhere! Beautiful The bolder filled creek was dry, but hiked to a Ranger falls anyway. It was running great, with a small rainbow at bottom. It goes underground, that’s why you see no water in creek bed. Going on along BCG Trail, I came upon another smaller waterfall. It also runs back underground, as does Big Creek, which you will see for the remainder of the hike out of gorge. Very rocky climb out to the rim. Rim trail has a few nice overlooks. I would rate this moderate, with steep climb at end. Don’t wear flip-flops!!

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful views, considerable elevation gains and descent. Tricky footing in some places over rocky trails especially when climbing or decending on the gulf. Take the extra .8 miles to see Ranger falls!

hiking
5 months ago

It was challenging for me as I haven’t done that distance in years. The views were fantastic- great time of year (early March) for some bonus waterfalls. Great sense of accomplishment after completing the loop!

6 months ago

great winter waterfall hike for ranger creek falls

6 months ago

Love South Cumberland!!

backpacking
7 months ago

A little bit of everything. Easy, fun hike with a LOT of great views. Some challenging areas (when backpacking)

hiking
7 months ago

Love this trail during winter months. Scenery is beautiful. Can be challenging in areas. Easy if you hike a lot and used to it. Take your time you’ll be fine.

hiking
7 months ago

I would agree with Paul Jacob that this hike could be rated as moderate if you hike regularly. While there are certainly strenuous sections and the mileage is up over 9 miles if you add on the extra 0.8 to Ranger Falls (highly recommend!!), the trail is super easy to navigate with all of the blazes and clear signage. Also, the uphill sections really aren't bad if you take the loop clockwise. I would think going counterclockwise on the loop would be harder as the trail ascending out of the Big Creek Gulf to Stone Door is steeper and rocky.

Since we did this hike during the winter, we were able to see Big Creek very well along the Big Creek Gulf trail, which was flowing beautifully in spots. The flowing water sections of Big Creek plus the spur trail to Ranger Falls made this my favorite section of the three sections on this loop.

Summary: If you're a regular hiker, this is a fairly moderate, mid-distance hike with some great scenery for the mileage. My wife and I were able to complete the loop in just under 5 hours. We highly recommend this one!

backpacking
7 months ago

Tough trail. Definitely go see Ranger Falls. Brutal climb up to Alum campground. Awesome views on the way out and the Stone Door is amazing

hiking
8 months ago

Very nice trail, and well maintained. I'd rate it as moderate. though the alum gap-BCG section is quite rocky and steep. Wear close toed shoes. Only a couple other people on the trail despite clear skies and a high around 55. Near the ranger station, check out Ranger Falls as well, just a couple hundred yards to beautiful falls.

8 months ago

Beautiful trail that is not too difficult. Not heavily trafficked on the day we went.

9 months ago

Stunning, but tough. Our group quoted “rock hell” a few times on the ascent.

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful October day for hiking. I went down to BCG from the Stone Door. It’s not quite ‘rock hell’ as someone else said, but it is rocky and rugged—more a rock purgatory. Highly recommend trekking poles and closed-toe shoes/boots. I went up to Ranger Falls as well which was a good side trail—flowing nicely. Yes, the climb up BCG to Alum Gap is straight, steep, and strenuous. I stretched out a hammock at Alum Gap and took lunch and a nice break. BCR is a delightful trail with occasional overlooks and plenty of beautiful woods—a nice amble.

hiking
10 months ago

Big creek Gulf is the harder of the trails. When you get to the split from stone door we took Big Creek Gulf for a major downhill adventure. There was a dry creek bed for a lot of the hike and just before it starts with the uphill elevation there is a nice waterfall to stop and refill water and have a snack or lunch. The last mile to 2 miles is a beast. At one point it felt like the incline was almost straight up and was never going to end lol. Definitely a workout. Big creek rim is a fairly easy trail with a few viewpoints overlooking the mountains. If you want to start hard and end easy this is the way to go. If you want an easy start with a bang for an ending take Big Creek rim to big creek Gulf. It was roughly a 9-9.3 mile hike. I had two gps monitoring distance and those are the numbers I got.

11 months ago

Fun loop! Pretty standard woodsy Tennessee scenery, but the Stone Door is a really awesome, unique feature...add in some nice views and a waterfall and you've got a recipe for a great day hike. I started around 8am on a Saturday and didn't see a soul until I reached the Alum Gap camp area, but the parking lot was full when I left. I'd rate the loop more moderate, but the climb to Alum Gap at the end of the BCG trail is a doozy for sure. There are quite a few sections of the BCG that are rocky and pretty slick--if you have weak knees or ankles definitely wear supportive footwear and maybe bring trekking poles, especially if it's a wet day. The BCR trail fairly easy and mostly flat, so don't be discouraged from taking it even you're gassed from the climb out-- the views are lovely. In total the trail including the Ranger Falls spur took me right at 5 hours with a short break for lunch. Temps were in the upper 60s and I drank about 1.5L water.

hiking
11 months ago

I'd rate more moderate than strenuous

hiking
Thursday, August 03, 2017

Like Mary, I also took Laurel out. It added to the mileage, but my companion was gassed, so we took easy mode to complete the loop. I did this trail because of the hard rating, and that ascent did not disappoint my expectations. I thought that climb was going to end like 5 times before it did, lol. I didn't make it to the falls though. My lady isn't that great on rock yet. Initially, I was disappointed because I thought we took the easier way. On closer inspection, I will tell you there is no "better" way to do this trail. The madman that designed it made it where no matter which way you go, you're screwed. I took the GSD straight down into rock hell and then had to climb my way out of it. Touche, trail designer. Touche indeed.

camping
Friday, July 28, 2017

My son and I did an overnight here. Went from the Savage Gulf Ranger Station to the Stagecoach Road Site. Beautiful views and a challenging trail. We had a great time, and look forward to going back. The only issue we had was the trail sign for Stagecoach Road was knocked down by some deadfall after some storms, and we almost missed it.

hiking
Thursday, July 27, 2017

Did a combination of SD, BCG and Laurel. Skipped the Rim this time for a slightly lighter easier day (the ascent at the end of BCG is tough). Pretty views at the start. Did the Ranger Falls spur, and it was definitely worth it.

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