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.
One Reply to “Stone Door”
This was a monumental trip for me and Amy.We had done some small backpacking trips before but we wanted to do a larger trip.This trip was 23.2 miles 15.4 with packs 7.8 w o packs .We dropped Cait Seth off at Tim and Tamaras on Thursday night and stayed at a hotel in Manchester.It rained on us from the time that we left home until about 4 or 5 minutes of being on the Stone Door trail.After that point it never rained again.We got to the Stone Door ranger station about 10AM.We started on the trail about 10 20.We had decided to take the Big Creek Rim trail to Alum Gap because we had never taken that trail before.We hung around the cliffs of Stone Door for a while and made it to Alum Gap around 12 45.We had pick of the litter when it came to campsites.We picked 5 because of its proximity to the bluff.We set up camp and decided to head on over to Greeter Falls.We passed Boardtree falls and it was as dry as a bone.We got to Greeter around 2PM.There was a trickle of water going over Greeter.We played around the base for a while.We filtered about 80 oz. of water and then headed back to the campsite.We had noticed on the way to Greeter that Big Bluff overlook had an awesome view.We stopped on the way back and just took in the beauty.We got back to camp around 4PM.We were both hungry and Amy made chicken and dressing.It was awesome.We made a happy bowl.We huddled around the campfire and headed off to bed around 9PM.We got up the next morning broke camp and hit the Big Creek Gulf trail around 8 30AM.We made it to the Ranger Creek trailhead around 9 35.This would be Amys first trip to Ranger Creek Falls.It was only a trickle as well and looked a bit different than I remembered.I climbed up the left side and went back to see where the water was coming from.It was coming from out of a cave and there was a pretty little rock bridge.There was a crack on each side and there was a perfect little opening where the water below was about chest deep.We made it back to the trailhead and our backpacks around 10 15.We made it to the 2nd swinging bridge on the connector trail and decided to have lunch.We arrived at the Sawmill campsites around 2PM.Again we had pick of the litter and ..picked site 6.We needed some water and decided to head to Schwoon Spring to get some water.Once we got there it sounded like a trickle deep inside the sink hole but there was a guy there that told us that there was a nice pool to get water up top.We filtered about 96 oz.We hiked on to Horsepound Falls which neither of us had ever seen.We made it to Horsepound around 3 15 and it was only a trickle.We were both surprised at how big it was.We were both expecting it to be about 10 but it was about 25 tall.I decided to soak my feet upstream.It felt so good.I soaked them until they were numb and Amy decided to just dip them for about a half of a second.We headed back to Sawmill and Amy cooked yet another scrumptious supper.We had cheesy mashed potatoes with bacon bits and apple cobbler for desert.They were awesome.We huddled around the campfire and headed off to bed around 9PM again.Just before bed we had to play a game of Boggle.Amy kicked my butt.We broke camp the next morning and hit the trail around 8 35.We stopped by the Cator Savage Historic Site which was a cabin in a quaint little clearing.We made it back up to the door around 11 50AM.It was pretty steep getting back to the door but we made it.We rested on the door cliffs for a while taking in the view.Amy stated that this was one of three of her favorite spots on Earth.After Amy pried me away from the diving board we headed back to the Stone Door campground where once again we had pick of the litter.It was about 2 30PM and all of the weekenders had headed out and left all campsites open.We picked site 2 because we felt that this we the exact campsite that she and I stayed at in 1992 see 3 92 story above .We set up camp and Amy had been saying for the last 24 hrs. that she really wanted some pizza.We decided that as a small reward that we would run into Tracy City and see if there was a pizza joint open because it was Sunday.We went into the Dollar General and asked.One local lady stated that we would have to go clear over to Monteagle to get pizza.I couldnt understand her and I thought that she said clear over to Wynita.Amy thought that was so funny.Before we left Tracy City we had to stop by the Dutch Maid Bakery and get some sweets.We then mosied over to Monteagle and noticed a place called Papa Rons.We went there and had some wonderful pizza.I am not 100 sure if it was that awesome or that having 23 miles under our belts was just going to make any food that we didnt have to make wonderful.We headed back to Beersheba Springs to camp.We started a fire and turned the i-pod on shuffle.We listened to christian music for about 2.5 hrs.
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