I have wanted to visit The Stone Door for years. I was never quite sure where it was although I had seen the brown signs many times as I traveled to Middle Tennessee. One very cold day I decided to go.
The Stone Door is located in the Savage Gulf wilderness area. The entrance is in Beersheba Springs, TN. Once you find Beersheba Springs, just follow the brown signs.
There is a very nice Ranger Station at the entrance with large clean heated restrooms. There is a large parking area so I suspect that this place gets crowded in the summer. We pretty much had the place to ourselves on this cold December day.
We loaded my dog Smash in the back of Bertha our GMC Suburban. There had been snow a few days before but we found the roads clear. Jennifer brought along her boys Hunter and Caleb, and she and Janice packed us a picnic lunch.
I managed to make one wrong turn along the way and followed a sign to Savage gulf instead of waiting for the sign to Stone Door. That lead us to another nice picnic spot that I will revisit when it is warmer. There is a trail to a waterfall there. We simply used their restroom facilities and let Smash get a drink. Then we headed to the other side of the gulf to find the Stone door.
Right behind the ranger station is a very pretty waterfall called Laurel falls. It drops off an under cut rock. Due to the extreme cold there were lots of very pretty icicles hanging off the rocks. We did not spend a lot of time here; just enough to see the falls. There was ice on the trail that made walking hazardous and we were concerned that the two young boys were getting a bit close to the edge. The trail makes a loop that returns to the ranger station.
Next we took the trail to the Stone Door. That is what I came to see. The trail begins as a narrow paved walkway. There is what looks like an old Jeep trial that runs parallel to the trail. Smash and I hiked part of the Jeep trail and really wished they would let us drive on it.
Smash was very excited to be there and seemed to forget some of his leash training. He wanted to run ahead of every one and tugged on the leash a bit. After a few reminders, he clamed down and behaved. He still did not like it if one of the boys tried to walk in front of him. He preferred being the lead dog.
We traded out who held the leash and it seemed whomever had it always ended up out walking the rest of the group. But we managed to stay close together. The pavement ends at a beautiful overlook of the gulf. We could hear the water rushing in the creek below. The view of the cliffs and the lush forest was breathtaking. So was the cold wind so we did not stay much longer than required to take a few pictures. Smash was also very impatient.
The trail winds through the woods along the edge of the gulf. There was one very interesting gnarly old pine tree along the way. Smash gave it a sniff and continued on along the trail.
Eventually we reached the Stone Door. It did not seem like much at first then I stepped in between the rocks and realized the magnitude of it. The Doorway is a very narrow passage between two rocks that tower at least 100 feet above the canyon below.
There is a narrow staircase formed form rocks leading down to the valley below. Icicles hung from the cliffs above and ice coated many of the steps. I had to be very careful walking and holding Smash’s leash. He was in a huge hurry to get to the bottom and I did not want either of us to fall.
Once we made it safely to the bottom and looked up, I saw how truly amazing the place is. The tall rocks seem to dwarf the narrow staircase.
Once every one made it down we took some time to explore the ledge below the cliff. There were some interesting overhangs and little caves in the cliff walls. There were more stairs leading to the valley even further below but we did not continue down. The boys had fun exploring the rocks and ledges and breaking off icicles.
We finally decided to hike back up and out. Hiking up the slippery steps was actually easier than going down.
At the top I explored the rocks that I had ignored on the way down. There is an interesting gap between the main mountain and the edge of the cliff. It looks like the cliff edge has slid off some creating a gap. There was also a very interesting looking sinkhole that Smash sniffed.
Once back on the trail Hunter lost some interest in hiking and decided he was tired. He is only five. But when I told him he had to look out for bears and growled behind him he took off running back toward the ranger station.
Back at the Suburban, we unpacked our picnic and commandeered a table. We dined on sandwiches and chips and pork rinds. Smash enjoyed a few snacks as well.
We ate briskly due to the very cold temperature. We were all very happy to be back in the warmth of the Suburban for the trip home.