Gilbert Gaul Trail at Fall Creek Falls State Park
A while back we participated in the Tennessee State Park’s 75th Anniversary “Share Your Memories” Contest and were selected to win a free night’s stay at one of the state park inns. Since the story we submitted was about Ezra’s breakdown on the bridge at Fall Creek Falls, we thought it only fitting to head back to FCF for our free night’s stay. While there we hit up the off-the-beaten-track Gilbert Gaul Trail.
- Scenery: 2.5
- Difficulty: 1.5
- Length: 4.1 miles
- Dog Friendly Factor: 5.0
- Convenience: 1.5
- Bonus Funtimes: 5.0
Scenery (2.5 out of 5.0): While Fall Creek Falls is full of trails with really impressive views of the many different waterfalls, this less-traveled trail provides a little more subdued scenery. The trail starts out along a fully wooded path typical of many trails in Tennessee, but it’s not long until the trail begins to skirt along Fall Creek Falls Lake.
These peaceful lake views continue throughout the bulk of the hike – and give you a great chance to see nature at work. From tiny toads leaping across the trail to impressive beaver handiwork that’s evident through a sizable beaver dam, the delights of this trail really came from slowing down and observing nature at work.
As the trail curves away from the lake for the last mile, the wooded area disappears and you enter a small, open meadow. The day we walked through the trail the grass was high and butterflies hopped from one wildflower patch to another. From here the trail quickly enters back to a wooded path that takes you back to the trailhead.
Difficulty (1.5 out of 5.0): Aside from a few mild climbs (one longer one just past the meadow during the home stretch to the trailhead), there’s not much difficulty on this trail. During the first two miles the trail is very well maintained, but after that you’ll encounter some higher grass on the less-traveled portion of the trail.
Length: 4.4 miles
Dog Friendly Factor (5.0 out of 5.0): We didn’t have the dogs with us on this trek, but they would’ve done great on this trail. With so many spots right along the lake, there’d never be a worry about not finding enough water forthem to refresh themselves. The one note of caution (and it’s only a minor one) – there’s a lot of free roaming wildlife at FCF so we saw quite a few deer and a group of wild turkeys — if your dog’s likely to bolt after these types of critters, you’ll want to be sure to keep a good hand on the leash just in case you run into some deer!
Convenience (1.5 out of 5.0): At 100 miles+ from Nashville, plan an entire day for this outing.
Bonus Funtimes (5.0 out of 5.0): Fall Creek Falls is one of Tennessee’s most popular state parks for good reason. There’s hiking, biking, camping, swimming, fishing and a whole host of family friendly activities. We enjoyed our free night’s stay at the Inn (which is more like a conference center than a rustic lodge) and made sure to get seconds at the great buffet in the restaurant at the inn. We also hit up the lake for a little paddle boat action on our first night! Any trip to FCF will give you plenty of memories to take home!