Part One – The Stone Door
Before arriving at my destination, I stopped along US-70 W at a scenic overlook (a.k.a., Sunset Rock) located east of Sparta –
I recently visited the Savage Gulf State Natural Area, located in the South Cumberland State Park system. With several points of interest in an area of 15,590-acres, I started at the trailhead for the Stone Door, located near the Ranger’s Station in Beersheba, Tennessee.
Parking is easy, and handicap spots are also available for visitors. There are clean restrooms and a billboard with information about the park & trails, including directions to a nearby 30′ waterfall named Laurel Falls.
Though the volume of water flowing over the falls is lower during the autumn season, it was nevertheless a pleasant sight – and, a very short hike:
The trail to the Stone Door is only 1 mile, upon which I enjoyed a paved surface until reaching the Laurel Gulf Overlook (Overlook No. 1):
Thereafter, the trail was mostly hard-packed sand, with some rocks and roots, though generally easy passage. Here are a few more photographs taken en route to additional overlooks, and the Stone Door –
Overlook No. 2
This was my favorite overlook! After stepping on a rock-bridge situated across a deep fissure in the cliff, scattered pine trees, stepped rock surfaces and various boulders served to beautify this elevated vantage point. And, the views were spectacular! I had the sense that, with a comfortable chair, I very well may have enjoyed spending the entire day at this spot.
Overlook No. 3
Not far away was another designated overlook area with more scenic views of the valley, bluffs, trees and birds. The space was slightly smaller with fewer trees, though having a sandier-surface area. Note: the apparent alignment of the first two pictures (below) is purely random, as these photographs feature separate viewpoints (southwest, northeast) of different rock formations.
The Stone Door
Deriving this name because it looks like a giant door left ajar, this 10 ft. wide by 100 ft. deep crack runs from the top of the escarpment into the gorge below and was once used by Indians as a passageway. The first picture was taken from the top of the Stone Door: note the tilted tree for comparison with the third & fourth pictures for better perspective of stairwell distance.
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See Part Two – Greeter Falls At Savage Gulf