Go take a hike: Experience some of the nature that Tennessee has to offer this weekend for National Trails Day
The so-called amphitheater at the Walls of Jericho is an impressive end of the trail. Pictured center of photo in black, a hiker offers a sense of scale to the terrain. The return to the trailhead covers 1,348 foot of elevation gain over about four miles. -File photo by John Coffelt

    John Coffelt, Staff Writer Living here, it’s easy to forget how fortunate we are to be within a short drive of some of the most inspiring natural vistas in the country. Here are a few ideas of how to get out and enjoy nature and a suggestion or two of where to go. Hiking, biking, climbing and waterfalls Hiking is the most common, lest gear-heavy and most accessible method to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Bring along some basics and it’s as simple as putting one boot in front of the other. Remember to follow the “leave no trace” guidelines and try to pack the 10 Essential items, especially if taking a longer or more remote hike. Some good choices within a an hour drive of Manchester are Fiery Gizzard, Savage Gulf  and Stone Door on the Cumberland Plateau in and around Grundy County and  for the more experienced hikers, the Walls of Jericho on the far side of Huntland is not to be missed Cumberland Plateau trails   The South Cumberland State Park is located within four different Tennessee counties: Grundy, Franklin, Marion and Sequatchie. According to the state, the park is composed of approximately 30,845 acres in nine separate areas and boasts some of the best hiking and backcountry camping in the region. South Cumberland State Park is located within four different Tennessee counties: Grundy, Franklin, Marion and Sequatchie. The park is composed of approximately 30,845 acres in nine separate areas and boasts some of the best hiking and backcountry camping in the region. For well-seasoned hikers, The Fiery Gizzard Trail is a 12.5 mile long one-way trail that connects the Grundy Forest and Foster Falls. “Backpacker” magazine listed it as one of the Top 25 in the country. The Great Stone Door is a cliff line overlooking the Savage Gulf. It is named from a crack in the cliff that runs from the top to the bottom that looks like a door left slightly ajar. Go to tnstateparks.com/parks/about/south-cumberland for complete details and trail maps. The Walls of Jericho On the edge of Franklin County and northern Alabama, The Walls of Jericho trails start from the northern parking area on Hwy. 79. The Bear Den Point Trail heads east from the parking area and circles 4.7 miles around Bear Den Point. The Walls of Jericho trail heads west from the parking area down to Hurricane Creek then follows Turkey Creek into the Walls of Jericho. At Clark Cemetery hikers are given the option of an upper and lower trail taking them above or into the amphitheater respectively. This trip is six miles round trip. It is considered a difficult hike. Mountain Biking Gaining prevalence in the area, mountain biking is a unique way to cover more ground in a day hike. Raccoon Mountain  Chattanooga’s Raccoon Mountain offers 24 miles of trail. Some are rated to have very technical descents. Raccoon Mountain is one of the few manmade reservoirs on top of the mountain. Go to www.sorbachattanooga.org/raccoon-mountain/ for complete details. Monte Sano Near Huntsville, Monte Sano State Park offers 22 miles of scenic hiking/biking trails. Trails range from a half-mile to nearly six miles with difficulty ratings from easy to extreme. Go to www.alapark.com for details and a map of the trails. Climbing Once open to a small group of Southeastern outdoors folk, climbing, like mountain biking, is an increasingly popular regional sport. Middle Tennessee offers some of the best crags, cliffs and caves around, though it’s best to take a class before roping up. Select areas of Fall Creek Falls is open to rock climbing with a free permit. According to the park, Copperhead Rock is a popular destination for top roping (as opposed to clipping protection as you climb) and rappelling. There are routes for beginners more advanced climbers. Copperhead Rock is located near the Fall Creek Falls Overlook and can be accessed via the Copperhead Rock Climbing Area. Foster Falls is one of the most popular sport climbing areas in the southern United States. According to the Tennessee State Parks, climbers travel from all over America and Canada to test their skills on the challenging sandstone bluffs. The park has 150 established climbing routes beginner-friendly 5.5 and 5.7 to see-what-your-made-of 5.13 and 5.14’s. Find more information at tnstateparks.com. Climbers are expected to comply with climbing industry standards and best safety practices.   Waterfalls   Short Springs On northern edge of Tullahoma City Limits, Short Springs Natural Area is home to Machine Falls a scenic 60-foot waterfall on the creek of the same name. The trail is about 1.5 miles to the falls, maintaining elevation until it drops sharply to creek level. Short Springs Natural Area is on Short Springs Road, turn left at the three-way stop at Rutledge Falls Road and JD Neil Road. Old Stone Fort Old Stone Fort State Archeological, on the Murfreesboro Highway, is nestled between branches of the Little Duck and Duck rivers. Both branches drop considerably throughout the park in a series of waterfalls. Rutledge Falls  Locally, the chilly waters of Rutledge Falls are the most well known of all the area waterfalls. Crumpton Creek flows from the area of the Old Tullahoma Highway to merge with several smaller tributaries before if falls to the Rutledge Falls basin, additionally feed by an icy adjacent spring. The creek eventually feeds into the Normandy Reservoir. The area is on private property at 1204-1274 Rutledge Falls Rd., but is open to the public for day use. EVENTS For National Trails Day, June 2, the Park Rangers of Old Stone Fort will host an event coordinated with the nationwide day to improve the trails systems of our public lands. From 9:30 a.m. – noon, volunteers will work to remove invasive species on the Garrison Road and Nature Trails. Sturdy, closed toed shoes are required and gloves are recommended. Bring a reusable water bottle, water will also be provided.