I just got back from a weekend spent in Monteagle, Tennessee. Monteagle is a town located on the top (elev. 1923 ft) of the Cumberland plateau in middle Tennessee. It is a great little college town (home to Sewannee, The University of the South, an excellent small, private, Episcopal university). Right outside of town is one of the trail heads to the Fiery Gizzard Trail. Tennessee is a geological treasure of parks and natural areas for hiking, camping, canoing and sight-seeing. I think Fiery Gizzard is one of the jewels of Tennessee’s treasure trove of natural wonders.
As part of my mission to encourage families to get out and do things together, I wrote up a pamphlet several years ago about taking a day trip from Nashville, TN to Fiery Gizzard, part of the South Cumberland State Park Recreation Area. It is a relatively undeveloped state park with a day hike loop called the Grundy Forest Day Loop that is great for novice hikers, people who aren’t in very good shape or people who have limited time to hike. In the space of 2 easy (and, in two spots, moderately difficult) miles walkers are exposed to a forested section of trail, three waterfalls with deep pools for swimming, interesting rock formations and overhangs while walking beside (and sometimes overlooking) the Big Fiery Gizzard Creek. It’s like you have stepped out of time into a fairy tale forest.
While this trail has an incomparable combination of natural, geological and recreational features all in one easy, brief hike that is easily accessible for residents of middle Tennessee, there is almost certainly some natural area near you that would be just as enjoyable.
Though written for a trip to Fiery Gizzard, you can use the pamphlet to consider the goals of a day hike in any similar setting, secret objectives you have as a parent for that kind of adventure, equipping your family for a day hike and suggestions for making any day hike trip a success.
I had to stop by to visit since I was in the area for some R&R. These photos will give you an idea about why I think it is a wondrous place but also what you can encounter in a place like the remarkable Grundy Forest Day loop of the South Cumberland State Park in Tennessee.
Find something near your house in nature (but only as strenuous as the least fit of your family can survive) and get your family out there!