10 Tips for Hiking the Fiery Gizzard Trail (2022)

South Cumberland State Park (Tennessee)

by Grace

Fiery Gizzard Trail is within 1.5 hours of Nashville and offers some of the best views in Tennessee. While it may be easy to get to, the trail itself is certainly not easy. You should absolutely spend some time planning your route and reading past reviews of this trail to prep for this all-day hike. Below are 10 tips (+ 2 bonus tips) I put together to help you enjoy some of the best hiking the middle US and Tennessee has to offer.


  1. Budget more time than expected.
  2. Pack wisely.
  3. Don’t worry about the crowds.
  4. Hike counter-clockwise.
  5. Wear close-toed shoes.
  6. Cross the creek on the logs.
  7. Skip the hiking poles.
  8. Wait a day following a big rain.
  9. No dogs.

There’s also two bonus tips hidden at the bottom!!

1. Plan more time than you think it will take.

I’m sure that all of you are the hiking beasts, but this trail is a douse even for the most fit hikers. This trail WILL be harder than you expect. I usually hike around 15 min/mile on an average rolling trail. This trail slowed me down to a moving pace of 22 min/mile. I was wiped by the end of it. Not only is it physically challenging, it is also mentally exhausting. All the rocks, roots, and other natural hazards mean that you have to be “ON” 100% of the time.

2. Do NOT pack like you are going to be staying out there a week.

Folks… sure this is a challenging trail, but you will be carrying useless weight if you pack everything and the kitchen sink. All you need are the essentials – few snacks, plenty of water (I recommend at least 2.5-3L), and a small med kit. That’s it! Now, if you like to be extra fancy, you may bring an extra shirt to change into at Raven’s Point because you will be covered in sweat. You do not need to bring an entire 50L pack full of gear. I saw TONS of people carrying TONS of gear that I can guarantee they did not use/need.

Small caveat: I did see some people set up ENO hammocks at Raven’s Point and I thought that was pretty genius. You could add those to the list if you wish. There is plenty of space and trees to set these up without being in the way of other people. Kick the feet up, watch the eagles, and almost forget you have a 5+ mile hike back.

3. Pick the day you want to go, regardless of how busy you think it will be.

Arriving at the trailhead, I saw 20+ cars. I went on a 70 degree day with minimal humidity in late September, so definitely a prime hiking day. Regardless, I passed 4 people TOTAL on the trail to Fiery Gizzard. Once I reached Raven’s Point, I saw a steady stream of people at the overlook, but never more than 5-7 people (and I was up there for 2+ hours). You will have plenty of solitude on this trail if that’s what you’re after… even if you go on a busier day!

4. Hike counterclockwise.

If you’ve read other reviews of this trail, you’ve likely heard this tip. It is important though, so I’m going to include it here! The second half of the trail along Dog Hole will feel like an absolute BREEZE compared to Fiery Gizzard. CLARIFICATION: The instructions for going counterclockwise apply once you reach the split off for Dog Hole. It doesn’t matter which way you choose to go around Grundy Day Loop.

5. Wear close-toed shoes.

I know it is tempting to whip out the Chacos after reading about the water crossings and waterfalls. However, the trail will be exponentially more challenging (not to mention dangerous) if you do not wear supportive shoes. With the large amount of rocks and boulder fields on this trail, close-toed shoes are non-negotiable. I wear the Salomon XA Comp 7, which are regular hiking shoes (not boots). If you have hiking boots, I would recommend wearing them for the extra ankle support. Don’t run out and buy boots just for this trail though.

6. Use the downed logs to cross Little Grundy Creek.

It may be tempting to cross on the rocks, but I would highly encourage you opt to scoot across the natural log-jam bridge. I saw a lady slip and fall into the water right before I crossed. Not only could you seriously injure yourself, but starting the main part of the trail soaking wet makes for a very long day.

7. No need to bring hiking poles.

I personally think hiking poles would get in the way on this trail. I cannot stress this enough… this trail is extremely rocky (see picture below). You will probably end up wanting to use your hands and surrounding trees to steady yourself versus hiking poles.

rock covered in moss on Fiery Gizzard Trail

8. Do not go the day after a big rain.

Fiery Gizzard Trail has a few spots that will be quite treacherous after a big rain. Picture steep slopes that are covered in mud and very near to a drop-off. Slipping on these could definitely cause serious injury and it would be hard to get back to the trail in some spots. Not to mention that the few water crossings become more challenging as well.

9. Do not bring your dog on this trail, unless it is VERY experienced with rocky terrain.

This trail would be challenging for even the most experienced hiking dogs. If you do decide to bring you dog, make sure it is in shape (can handle lots of steep incline/declines) and very sure-footed. If you want to bring your dog, consider hiking Dog Hole Trail to/from Raven’s Point. Dog Hole and Fiery Gizzard are completely different beasts, so do not decide to hike back on Fiery Gizzard “because Dog Hole wasn’t too bad.” Trust me, Fiery Gizzard is much, MUCH more challenging.


If you watched my video on this trail, you heard me mention this, but I am going to say it again. You will find yourself staring at your feet because it is so rocky/rooty/muddy. Remember to look up and enjoy the views. It is such a beautiful trail, so remind yourself to take some ‘soak in the views’ breaks.

Bonus Tip #1:

If you are a trail runner or you do not have enough time to hike Fiery Gizzard, consider hiking/running Dog Hole in both directions. You will not be able to run much on Fiery Gizzard, so if you’re goal is to clock miles, Dog Hole is the way to go.

Bonus Tip #2:

Not planning on doing the entire trail from Grundy to Foster Falls? You should still visit Foster Falls. I highly recommend going in the morning. Foster Falls is not only a popular waterfall viewing area, but it also is a top destination for rock climbers in the area. This means that it gets busy early. Avoid the crowds by going early. It is just down the road and a nice little warm up before you spend the rest of the day hiking.

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