The best hike in Tennessee

Tuesday, May 29, 2001 at 1:00am

Hiking trails abound in the Savage Gulf of Grundy County. To be precise, there are 14 of them, and they are generally long, interesting and satisfying to travel. Many of the trails meander across different types of terrain and create an illusion you are hiking four or five separate trails.

This is part of the secret of the Savage Gulf, enticing hikers like me back inside its boundaries time after time. However, my all-time favorite is the Collins Gulf - Connector - Stagecoach Road loop. From trailhead to finish, the hike is about 13 miles, a good day's work. Most of the trail is not overly difficult, but three or four brief sections can be strenuous, especially in the humidity of the summer.

On a recent outing, the weather was overcast and 45 degrees with no wind, my favorite hiking weather. In such weather, sweat from the exertion evaporates quickly, and a cool, refreshing feeling is prolonged hour upon hour.

From the Collins West gravel lot, I signed in as a day hiker, which makes diligent rangers aware that a hiker has gone out and needs to come back.

I strongly recommend if you are considering this hike, you obtain a map at the South Cumberland Recreation visitor center between Tracy City and Monteagle, or at one of the two ranger stations.

At the trailhead, a left turn

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