Description - South Cumberland is one of the newer Tennessee State Parks. Almost all of the park lies atop the Cumberland Plateau and, unlike most state parks, it is made up of ten different areas located in four different counties. The park is composed of 12,404 acres in seven separate areas. From here the various components of our park are managed. Visitors can also obtain information and directions from the visitor center.
Copyright: - Tennessee State Parks
Carved like a giant crow foot into the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau, the Savage Gulf State Natural Area is one of Tennessee's most scenic state outdoor recreation areas. At a length of five miles each, the Big Creek, Collins River and Savage Creeks tumble down over 800 feet in elevation through narrow gorges, locally known as "Gulfs." Rimmed by sheer sandstone cliffs, the rugged canyons offer the hardy visitor a fine glimpse of the true wilderness still remaining in our State's midsection.
The Stone Door was used for centuries by the Indians as a passage way from the top of the escarpment into the gorges below. Like a giant door left ajar, the crack is 10 feet wide and 100 feet deep. The spectacular cliffs offer one of the best scenic overlooks in Tennessee. Big Creek, 750 feet below the overlook, mysteriously disappears and reappears as it cuts its way thru the diverse layers of limestone and shale. All of the larger streams flow underground before reaching their mouths, making dry streambeds a common feature. But, during periods of heavy rainfall, these streams can become swift and treacherous torrents, so flash flooding is a very real danger. At the heads of the gorges the streams drop off the hard caprock in breathtaking waterfalls. Greeter Falls on Firescald Creek near Altamont drops over a 15-foot upper ledge and then plummets over a 50-foot lower ledge into a cold, clear plunge pool. Savage Creek enters its gorge over the cascades and a 30-foot drop of Savage Falls. Collins River and Ranger Creek have disappearing waterfalls, deep in the gorges, these streams drop over limestone ledges and flow into sinks. Animal life is abundant at Savage Gulf.
The rocks which make up the Cumberland Plateau were laid down 250 to 325 million years ago. During that warm tropical period, shallow seas advanced and retreated across the land, and the landscape was a profuse growth of swamp forests which were later buried by advancing seas. Today the vegetative remains of these swamp forests form the coal seams visible at the 1800 foot elevation. The fossils found in the park bear mute witness to the ancient animals and plants which once called this area their home.
- The Stone Door and Savage Gulf Complex contain spectacular vistas, waterfalls, and many miles of hiking an backpacking trails and beautiful forest. The Fiery Gizzard Trail connects Grundy Forest and Foster Falls Hikers may observe nature swim in Fiery Gizzard Creek and enjoy one of the nation's most outstanding trails. Carter Natural Area is part of a unique 18,000-acre enclosed-valley sinkhole aptly named Lost Cove. Dense forests, clear streams and "the most impressive cave entrance in the state" are a few of the features found here. Sewanee Natural Bridge is a remarkable sandstone arch that overlooks Lost Cove. Grundy Lakes, a day-use area near Tracy City, provides swimming, picnicking , fishing, hiking and a view of 19th century "Coke Ovens."
The Visitor Center is located between Monteagle and Tracy City on Highway 41.
The park museum displays the natural and cultural history of the South Cumberland area.
Recreation - A monthly schedule of free public programs and guided hikes are provided by park staff and volunteers. A copy of the schedule can be obtained at the Visitor Center. Camping, hiking and picnicking are available at this park.
Climate - Tennessee has a temperate climate with short, mild winters. The average annual snowfall for the state is 12 inches. Spring comes in early March bringing flowering trees and shrubs, and warmer weather. Spring temperatures average between 45 and 70 degrees. Summer's full force arrives in the region by mid May, bringing warm weather and higher humidity. The mountains of eastern Tennessee are a great place to escape the hot summer temperatures as the higher elevation cools the air slightly. Cool fall temperatures bring crisp air and brilliant fall colors. Mid to late October is a good time to visit the region to experience the fall foliage.
To get to South Cumberland State Park, take exit 134 off I-24, take a right to Monteagle, turn left on Hwy. 41, drive three miles and the visitors center is located on the left.