Popular Fiery Gizzard hiking trail may have to close

The Fiery Gizzard is one of the most celebrated hiking trails in the country, but a land dispute could close the Grundy County, Tennessee trail by Dec. 1, 2015. A private property owner has told the state he will no longer grant access to hikers beginning Dec. 1.

“What we have is as land gets sold or passed down to heirs, that handshake agreement, that verbal agreement can change overnight,” said George Shinn, park manager at South Cumberland State Park. “That’s what we have right now.”

This will force a complicated reroute on the rugged, remote trail. The popular Raven’s Point campsite will close and the 12.5 mile trail will be rerouted. It will no longer be a plateau hike, but a steep drop into a gorge followed by a steep climb out.

“In a sense, we are losing a choice,” said Latham Davis with Friends of South Cumberland. “We are losing people with limited abilities to cross the plateau. Now they will have to go down deeper in the gorge. We hope it works out.”

Backpacker magazine recently named the Fiery Gizzard the sixth best trail for fall foliage in the entire United States.

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