Through the Woods to Amazing Views of Stone Door, Tennessee
Stone Door is a deep, narrow canyon in the Savage Gulf Unit of South Cumberland State Park near Beersheba Springs, Tennessee. Native Americans used this crack to access the top of the sandstone plateau.
We parked at the Stone Door Ranger’s Station where they have a small gift shop, maps, and information on the park. There is a large building with restrooms just bedside the Stone Door Ranger’s Station. The path to Stone Door is well marked, easy to hike, mostly level, and the first third of a mile is paved. The path meanders through the woods and has a few small wooden bridges that cross over small creeks and gullies. The air is filled with the chorus of many birds that seem to welcome you through the woods. At least that’s my impression. Those birds might be thinking that they wish we would get the heck out of their forest.
Laurel Gulf Overlook
Just before you get to the cliffs at the top of Stone Door you emerge from the forest and find Laurel Gulf Overlook with a breathtaking view of the Tennessee hills and valley below. I was just getting ready to turn on my phone video when we first stepped onto the wooden overlook. I wished I had already started videoing so that I could have captured my wife’s expression when she saw the view. I remember that she said, “Oh wow! This is amazing!” She was really surprised at this Tennessee landscape and the beauty of it all.
A short walk from the overlook, we came to rock outcroppings over the edge of the cliffs. My wife, Linda, was nervous at climbing over some of the rocks to get over to the views. She sat down on a large rock a good way back from the cliff edges. As I climbed over huge boulders to get closer to the cliffs, Linda said, “Get back away from there!” She was afraid I would fall. I’m a bit clumsy, so I am always careful to stay back far enough so that if I trip and fall, I won’t roll over the edge. So far, that has worked out well. I have not fallen over any cliffs. When I am hiking, it is not unusual for me to fall at least once. My excuse is that I’m 65 years old. I think I have earned the right to fall every now and then.
The cliffs at the top of the bluffs do not have rails to protect one from falling, so please stay back from the edges. Just back a little way from the cliffs, are two huge stone bluffs with stone steps between them. The stone steps are very steep and lead down to a small level area where there are wooden steps with rails leading further down to the valley. The Stone Door was used by Native Americans and settlers to reach the valley below.
I walked down the stone steps between the cliffs. I did not continue on down the wooden steps. Linda was sitting at the top of the Stone Door waiting on me. I walked back up the stone steps, and I was surprised at how much effort it took for me to climb them. I had to stop and catch my breath several times. I am a runner, and I tend to think that I am in good enough shape to climb just about any hill or steps. I usually run 7 1/2 miles and feel great when I'm done, but steep hills and steps really wear me out. I wonder if that's because I'm just not in as good of shape as I think I am, or if it is age-related. I've been running for over 40 years, and I almost always feel good while I am running; however, when I hike over mountains on the Appalachian Trail, it is always difficult for me to get to the top. Maybe it’s just a psychological thing.
There are several trails near the Stone Door Ranger’s Station that lead to waterfalls, campsites, and scenic hiking trails. I was surprised that we have lived in Middle Tennessee for 20 years, and yet this was our first trip to this amazing park. I definitely want to go back and explore more of the trails. Tennessee is an amazingly beautiful gift, and I am grateful for it all.
Stone Door Ranger's Station
Beautiful Sights of Stone Door in this Video:
Map to Stone Door Ranger's Station
© 2019 Ron Grimes