Located in Grundy State Forest, TN, the Fiery Gizzard Trail is a highly rated 9-mile loop that
rewards its tough terrain with spectacular views throughout. The trail follows the Big Fiery Gizzard Creek
for the first half of the loop, with the second half taking you on top of the gorge that follows the creek
back to the beginning. When I got there, it was unusually crowded for February, with the main lot almost full
and people already starting to park in the overflow parking. So, I found a parking spot as quickly as I
could and gathered my things to start the hike.
Starting the trail you’re immediately greeted with a large rock overhang that
dominates the eyes. As I continued on the trail, I found myself testing my balance with all the rock beds
that followed the creek. Scattered throughout the first half of the hike, the rock beds each last about a
hundred yards or so, making it imperative that you take your time going through them. Between each
rock bed, the trail gives you time to catch your breath with easy, flat, non-rock infested sections before
giving you another rock bed to traverse.
After three to four rock beds, the Fiery Gizzard gives you a climb. Most hiking trails that I have been
on offer a long, but gradual climb to the top. This is not the case with the Fiery Gizzard. While the climb
is long, it is anything but gradual, burning your thighs with each step. I would be lying if I said that I
wasn’t out of breath after climbing it. The climb itself lasts for about a quarter of a mile and takes you to
a T-intersection; left taking you back to the parking lot, right taking you towards the camping site that is
around 4.5 miles off the loop.
If you decide to take a right, the trail takes you on private property and offers you a few extra
views that are worth your while. I went right and was not disappointed. After making a rather steep
descent, there is a waterfall that spills in between a gorge of its own, making a wonderful place to have
lunch (that’s where I had mine.) A bit further on, there is another waterfall that is slightly off the trail,
but in my opinion, the best waterfall on the trail. It was around 50ft-60ft tall and looked like something
out of a movie. While it might not have been the most powerful of the waterfalls on the hike, it was the
most picture worthy.
Continuing past that waterfall leads you to an overlook that commands the view of the area. To
the right of the overlook, you can see rock bluffs in the distance and to the left, you can see the foothills
in the area. This part of the hike is worth the stop just to soak in the view, even if it’s about a mile off the
main loop. The last major waterfall of the hike is just past this overlook, and if you want to continue
towards the campsite, you have to go under the waterfall. For me, that was a pretty unique experience
and I recommend that if you ever get the chance to walk under a waterfall, you should do. For lack of
better words, it’s pretty cool.
Overall, this is a great hike for anyone looking to challenge themselves while taking in some
extraordinary views along the way. I would recommend that you build up to this hike though, as it does
give some challenges that may be too much for some. The trail itself is pretty well marked with the
exception of the T intersection that you come to after the climb to Raven’s Lookout. It says the Fiery
Gizzard continues right, which is technically true, but gives you no direction that the parking lot is to the
left. Other than that, take a day, and hike this trail. You won’t regret it.
This post was guest written by a good friend of the RealestNature crew, leave a comment below and we’ll pass it on to him!