Autumn at the Fiery Gizzard- South Cumberland State Park {Tennessee}

Fall has finally come to Tennessee and there is no better way to celebrate that than by getting out and seeing it in all the color. I’ve spent the last few months taking groups of international students to the different state parks in the area in an effort to show them there is more to the state than just Nashville. So for this hike we made our way to the part of South Cumberland State Park known as the Fiery Gizzard.

There was a general feel of excitement through the group as we drove up to the park. For some this would be their first hike, for others it was their first time experiencing fall, and for all of them this was an entirely new part of Tennessee to discover. We could not have asked for a better day for all these firsts.

We started our visit with the short hike down to Foster Falls. From the parking lot we followed the boardwalk down to the trailhead. This trail is only about a half a mile down to the falls. The trail is a rocky path with some uneven footing so it is considered a moderate trail.

At the bottom of the trail we came to the suspension bridge spanning across what use to be a stream. Suspension bridges like this can be found throughout a lot of the state parks. There is just something so intriguing about a creaky, bouncy bridge that just makes you want to cross it.

We then came to the place where the waterfall should have been but due to the lack of rain lately instead there was only a small trickle coming over the edge of the rock. Though a little disappointing to not see the falls, the rock with the colorful trees above were really beautiful.

We turned back to make our way back up the rocky trail to the top. On our way up we ran across Brad and Tessa coming down the trail. They had wanted to join in the hike but were late getting there. So they left us to finish their trek down to the missing falls.

After going down to the falls, we then went along the rim trail to see the area from above. The spots of fall color from the top were really pretty as they poked out from all the green around it.

This trail I would say is easy as it is mostly flat. You follow along the rim to the other side where there are hike in campgrounds that you can enjoy. If you are feeling really motivated you can keep on this trail for 13 miles and it will circle the entire valley below.

We made it to the opposite side from where we started and looked down to the pool below. From up here you could kind of see where the trickle of water was going over the side of the rock. It was a lovely change of perspective of the same spot.

We decided against doing all 13 miles of this trail. So we turned around and followed the rim trail back to the parking lot. The students loved the hike and to see it awash in the beautiful colors of fall. They couldn’t wait to share the pictures they had taken with their family and friends back home. As for me, a fall hike is always a good tonic for the soul and this hike was just what I needed.

Need some more reasons to love Tennessee state parks in the fall? Then check out these other parks:

Old Stone Fort State Park

Savage Gulf- South Cumberland State Park

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Thanks for coming along through the Fiery Gizzard of South Cumberland State Park. May your path be full of color and wonder.

25 responses to “Autumn at the Fiery Gizzard- South Cumberland State Park {Tennessee}”

  1. Great post, Meg! How wonderful that you have taken these visitors under your wing! The hike looks perfect, as does the scenery – and the fall colors are breathtaking. We have a few turning leaves here, but everything is still mostly green, so I am glad to get to enjoy your fall colors in the meantime. Do you know how the park came to be named Fiery Gizzard? It’s such an unusual name.

    • Thank you! The name makes me laugh every time I see it. Sadly I don’t know how it came to have that name. Maybe though it was a fall day and the whole area looked like fire in the middle of the part. I was glad to get to see the colors because since then it’s like everything has turned brown from the lack of rain.

  2. The autumn colours really pop out of this article Meg. Some really delicious shades of red. I’m with you on squeaky bridges, yes they make me a bit nervy but in a positive way for the most part. Have you done the 13 mile trail before?

    • Thanks Leighton 🙂 We have yet to do the 13 mile hike yet. It’s harder these days to do long hikes with Tessa because she is old enough to do the hike but young enough that she doesn’t go very far. But when she was a baby we could just put her in the pack and hike trails for hours at a time.

    • Oh do I miss Utah in the fall! I love the rolling hills of Tennessee but it’s just not the same as the Rocky Mountains. But Tennessee is filled with wonderful suspension bridges and I do love that 🙂 This hike though was excellent and we happened on the best day for it.

  3. I couldn’t agree more about how going for a hike is the perfect way to enjoy the fall foliage. I love the little suspension bridge. Even though there was no waterfall, the views of the trees changing colour looks beautiful.

    • Thank you 🙂 It was really beautiful and we couldn’t have asked for a better day for it. Listening to the students though was my favorite part as they oohed and ahhed their way down the trail.

  4. Absolutely beautiful fall colours there! That park looks like the perfect place to get out and enjoy nature in. I definitely love a walk in the autumn as well and agree it is good for the soul with the leaves changing colour and the sun shining. Hope you have more sunny autumn days ahead!

  5. What a gorgeous hike and what a treat for the students. The weather looks perfect. I think we here in MN must be a tad ahead of you in the fall colors. Ours are a tad more faded and I’ve even seen a tree or two that have totally lost their leaves. Winter soon!

    • Normally fall is pretty gradual here so get to enjoy it for a few months. But I was glad we went on this hike when we did because then we had a cold snap and now all the leaves are brown and about to fall off the trees. I bet winter in MN is really pretty with all the snow. 🙂

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