Inside the South Cumberland State Park lies the beautiful 60ft Foster Falls. A quick 45 minute drive from Chattanooga will land you in Sequatchie, TN where the hike begins. You can either take the short route from the parking lot to the overlook and down to the swinging bridge, or for more of a challenge follow Fiery Gizzard Trail to Climber's Access 2. We missed the access the first time, bringing our total hike to 4.5 miles. On the Fiery Gizzard trail, you will have many different viewpoints of the falls. Once at the Climber's Access, you can watch sport climbers ascend the incredible walls.
The terrain varies between even to uneven and does involve rock scrambling if you continue on past Climber's Access along Fiery Gizzard trail. If hiking from the parking lot directly to the falls, the distance is 1.6 miles RT and an easy hike, but uneven terrain.
We had the falls to ourselves for a little bit, but I can imagine this being a very crowded place during the summer. There is also camping available.
Driving info: 498 Foster Falls Road
Sequatchie, TN 37374
Open year round. Large parking lot. Restrooms at trailhead.
Driving south of Moab on HWY191 stands an impressive roadside arch. Wilson Arch stands 46 feet tall and spans 91 feet wide. Park in the gravel lot, and climb on up!
The climb up is short - 10 minutes max - but it is across sand and slickrock. Make sure you have on appropriate footwear. Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with views of the valley below. Traversing the ground under the arch is easy, but if you have kids please hold onto them. I saw toddlers in Crocs running around alone. Just because it so easily accessible doesn't mean it's safe.
There's not much else to say about Wilson Arch other than to do it! If you're getting out of your car to take photos, you might as well climb up the arch!
Bloods Lake is a quick and easy trail located at the top of Guardsman Pass accessed either from Big Cottonwood Canyon or Park City. Dogs are allowed on this hike if they are brought up the Park City side but prohibited in Big Cottonwood due to watershed restrictions. We always drive up BCC because of distance, but I feel that Buddy would LOVE the trail and all of the other doggo friends.
Parking can be a pain on Guardsman Pass. There is a parking lot that is usually always full in the late afternoon and evening due to its proximity to the Wasatch Crest Trail for MTB and the popularity of Bloods Lake. We have driven up plenty of times on a Saturday only to drive back down into BCC for another hike because of lack of parking. If you park on the road, make sure you can park and leave plenty of room for drivers. Guardsman Pass is a narrow mountain road with no guardrails.
The hike is a 1.1 mile out and back starting on the left side of the LNT sign. It's an overall easy hike with great views, wildflowers in the summer, and unfortunately... mosquitos. The descent the actual lake is steep. Keep this in mind when going back up. The first time I did this hike last year I was sucking air for the short uphill section. We recently did this hike with some of my flatlander family (740 ft above sea level) and they were also struggling just for that short section. My sister (who has severe asthma) and I managed just fine this time! The hike is in the 9500-9600 ft above sea level vicinity.
Keep in mind that this hike traverses on private property with access at the property owner's discretion. You will see a No Trespassing sign. Continue at your own risk! You are liable for yourself after that point. If you do continue on to the lake, clean up after yourself! Practice Leave No Trace. Better yet, leave it BETTER than you found it.
Once you descend to the lake, there is a trail that wraps around. We chose a nice hammocking spot to watch a group of dogs playing water fetch. Dog watching is my favorite sport! I also used my Adventure Mat to make my hammock time more enjoyable. Read all about the Adventure Mat here!
There is a trail that continues on to Laxawaxen Lake and Clayton Peak, however we have always enjoyed this as a late evening hike. One day I will continue to complete Clayton!
Disclosure: This post contains sponsored links from Adventure Mat, however all opinions are my own.
I recently received an Adventure Mat to use hammocking & camping last week. Since receiving it, every time I pack my backpack for a hike, the Adventure Mat has tagged along! I'm in love with this simple yet extremely useful product. It's one of those "I didn't know I needed it until I had it, and now I can't live without" products,
The Adventure Mat started as an easier way to change clothes and shoes at the trailhead, parking lot, or wherever you were without a clean surface. We've all done the shoe stand balancing act. With the Adventure Mat you have plenty of room to actually stand plus a clean surface! Not only can you get it from its zippered pack to the ground in one fail swoop, it also folds so that the clean surfaces never touch the dirty. GENIUS.
I spend a lot of time in my hammock. A. Lot. Sometimes I keep my shoes on for a quick swing, but usually I want to cuddle up and nap sans footwear. Sure, I could kick my shoes off once in the hammock, but what about to awkward jump from the hammock to the ground when I get out? Adventure Mat! I could take my shoes off, not get dirt or grass in my socks, hang out in the hammock, and hop back out onto a clean surface. SOLD.
While camping in Moab (cue red rock dirt), I used my Adventure Mat as a welcome mat to my tent. It worked out great to remove dirty Chacos and not drag red dirt inside. I could pop out of the tent onto a clean mat, put my shoes back on, and go!
I've already started to compile a list of other ways I plan on using my Adventure Mat.
The Adventure Mat was so easy to clean! I rinsed mine off in the bathtub, but a sink, hose or glass of water should get it clean as well! As far as the size and weight, I never noticed it in my backpack. It was definitely thin enough to slip in. You can purchase your Adventure Mat here!
As one of the most iconic geologic formations in the world, a very popular hike in Utah, and the state license plate, I couldn't believe I hadn't been to Delicate Arch after living in Utah for a year and a half. My dad and brother were in Utah visiting, so on our Moab trip we chose Delicate Arch as our Arches NP hike.
At 3 miles round trip, this hike shouldn't be underestimated. The elevation gain is only 480 ft, but you pretty much climb this all at once. If you come from somewhere like Tennessee where the height above sea level is 740 ft, you're going to struggle. Luckily I've acclimated to much higher elevations that Moab, so it wasn't an issue for me. Take a break when you need it and BRING WATER. We went on a day that started rainy, cloudy and in the 70s and ended at 99 and sunny. The heat can kill you. Delicate Arch is a popular place for ranger rescues due to hikers underestimating the difficulty and dehydration. If you're physically fit though, this hike should be a breeze.
Follow the "trail" signage until you reach a narrow pathway. Delicate Arch is just a around the corner! (I took most of the photos on the way back down, so imagine coming up this instead!)
There isn't a shortage of people at the arch. If you are patient, you'll be able to catch a photo without 50 people in it. You can also walk down under the arch, but we opted to just sit and enjoy. We hung out on some rocks and took it all in for about an hour before heading back down.
The views you are rewarded with are amazing!
There are vault toilets, trash, and recycling at the parking lot. We went on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, and the parking lot was pretty full. Try to avoid weekends and arrive early on weekdays. Also, Arches is closing the park every weeknight at 7pm for road construction. Keep that in mind before starting any late afternoon hikes.
If you are looking for the best wildflower display in Utah, head up to the Albion Meadows Trail (3.7 miles out and back). Located at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon in the ski area of Alta, you will be rewarded with wildflowers by the millions usually the last two weeks of July. They even hold a free wildflower festival with guided walks, but we chose to go a week early to beat the crowds.... sort of.
Cecret Lake is a very popular hike that also starts in Alta. The parking for Cecret Lake fills up fast, so some people choose to take the shuttle and others choose to take the Albion Meadows trail until it connects with the Cecret Lake trail. There are a lot of people that say parking is impossible due to the popularity of Cecret Lake on weekends, however we had no problem finding a spot midday Saturday.
The hike pretty much starts from the parking lot. You can't miss it. After about a quarter mile you will have a choice between a wide gravel type path and single track. Take the single track as it is easier and in my opinion has better views.
You will eventually reach Alf's restaurant. Here you can continue on straight to the Cecret Lake trail behind some construction, turn left to make the Albion Meadows Loop, or turn right to head up Germaine Pass. We chose Germaine Pass and were so glad that we did! We met a man that showed us a pink Columbine, apparently the rarest flower that we would see there. Unfortunately it was in a spot that we couldn't grab a photo. We told him that we had seen a blue Columbine the day before on the Wasatch Crest Trail in Big Cottonwood. He confirmed that it was just as rare! (Photo below)
We also ran into this cute little guy! He was totally posing for us.
We turned around about .5 mile into Germaine Pass. On the way back past Alf's, Karl spotted a moose! This was our first moose sighting while hiking. We sat and watched him forever.
Albion Meadows Trail is the perfect way to wander around Little Cottonwood Canyon. There are so many other trails to explore along the way that I guarantee you won't stay on the Albion Meadows trail the whole time.
Disclosure: This post contains sponsored links from Rad Dog, however all opinions are my own.
I recently was lucky enough to test out the coolest leash/collar combo from Rad Dog, a Washington based, Colorado conceived company. Hand sewn in the USA with 100% American materials, Rad Dog has made a unique product with outstanding quality.
The concept behind the Release N Run is a dog owner's dream. Perfect for hiking & trail running in off leash areas, the 4ft leash actually retracts into the collar! You never have to carry a leash with you again!
After receiving my Release N Run, I was SO impressed with the quality. Everything felt sturdy and well sewn: especially important if you have a large strong dog like I do. I ordered the size Large for my German Shepherd, Buddy, & it fit perfectly. The snap closure felt secure, and Buddy didn't even seem to notice it on (he never wears a collar when he is inside). Since I put a collar on him, he was super excited so we went for a test run!
I'll admit, Buddy is a puller. He isn't great on a leash and tends to pull me down the stairs on the way to the car. I was worried at first about how the thinner leash cord would be able to withstand his strong forward lunges, but Rad Dog uses the strongest materials available:
"Made with climbers webbing, Cordura® and Spectra® cord, the RNR is strong enough for dogs weighing up to 110lbs. Spectra, made by Honeywell® is one of the world’s strongest and lightest fibers. The internal retracting mechanism, originally designed for extended use in salt water by scuba divers and for the tethering of tools and weapons for the police and military, has been designed for maximum strength and durability. "
Plus the 4ft length actually gave me more control over him than I could have imagined. I don't think I could ever go back to a 6ft lead.
Once we were at the trail, I opened Buddy's door and grabbed ahold of the leash's grasp. Easy peasy. No making him wait to get the leash & put it on. We hiked a little bit up the trail before starting our run when I finally released him. The leash retracted perfectly back into the collar, and we were off!
Whenever I would see other people or dogs on the trail, I could easily grab the leash! Some people are afraid of large dogs, and I think it's common courtesy (personally) to not have my dog barreling down the trail unleashed, even on an off leash trail. I don't mind seeing other dogs off leash since I am totally a dog person, but I would also never want to frighten someone with a 100lb German Shepherd (even though he is the biggest sweetest baby ever). I loved how simple it was to call him back, grab the leash, and have total physical control over him.
Aside from Buddy's squeaky toy, "Mr. Pig", this is probably the best piece of "dog equipment" we have. Rad Dog's Release N Run comes in an assortment of colors and 4 different sizes. You can check out the product page by clicking here!
BONUS: The Release N Run turns your dog into an instant model! I may be biased, but Buddy sure did look handsome modeling his new collar for me!
If you're looking for great, clean campsites away from RVs & cars altogether, Jordanelle Resevoir's Keetly hike-in campground is for you. Located just north of Heber City (think Park City area) the Jordanelle State Park is perfect for boaters, SUP, kayaking, beaching, and just relaxing by the water. The beauty of the Keetly campground was the privacy, unlike hanging out at the beach area which can be very crowded.
We chose campsites 171 with easy access to the water but no shade. Everything you bring must be hiked in .5 mile to 1 mile depending on your campsite and the foot path you choose. Once you park, there is a spot for wagons that were donated to the state park for campers to haul their gear to the sites. Even though the sign clearly said to not leave the wagons at your site and to hike it back the parking lot after unloading, we saw many campers with the wagons at their site all night. We were not lucky enough to grab a wagon on the hike in - but we did see two girls with a wagon each hauling nothing but one backpack in each wagon. Talk about annoying. Moral of the story - don't bring more than you can carry in or else you may be making multiple trips.
The campsites are equipped with concrete pads with picnic tables, large firepits with primitive grills, and tent spaces. Pretty similar to most car camping set ups.
Our campsite was located on a cove - perfect for floating, kayaking, and SUP. A few campers did "park?" their boats along the bank in the cove and hiked up to their campsites. The water was pretty still and free from wake in the area.
We cooked our dinner of veggie brats and squash on our BioLite grill (favorite outdoor equipment purchase ever!) & watched the sun set. After dark, a heat lightening storm started, but we weren't lucky enough to catch a good photo.
If you're looking for a nice quiet weekend on the lake or a family fun filled trip, Jordanelle State Park Keelty Campground is for you!
Some Saturdays we wake up with no plans but to head south and explore a new trail amongst the red rock. On this particular morning, we had slept in so we knew that our hike had to be within a 3 hour drive. Moab it was! In between cell phone recpetionless patches along US-6, I scoured Google and Instagram (seriously the best inspiration for future hikes) for a unique trail in the Moab area. We decided on the Grandstaff Trail to the Morning Glory Bridge, a 4.5 mile trail with river crossings that ultimately leads you to a 243 foot natural bridge, the 6th largest natural rock span in the United States.
To reach the trail head, drive (or bike) east along US-128 3.1 miles from its intersection with US-191 until you see the Grandstaff Trailhead sign. The Colorado river flows on the opposite side of the road. There are restroom facilities at the trailhead.
The canyon is managed by BLM. No need for permits or access fees. This is also a great way to avoid the crowds that Arches brings. While the trailhead parking lot was full when we arrived, we were never in a crowd of hikers. We mainly passed people that were enjoying the stream with their pups.
The trail is 2.25 in to the bridge on a mostly shaded trail that follows a stream. You do have to cross the stream quite frequently, but it isn't deep and there are perfectly placed rocks to help you stay dry. This is a side of Moab that I never knew existed; everything was lush, green, and breezy. The cacti were even blooming! There are only a few times in which I felt we were in direct sun - mostly on our final approach to the bridge.
We arrived at the bridge just in time to watch a guided group rappel off the bridge. Totally doing this next time we head to Moab! Other than the guided group of 5, there was only one other couple at the bridge making it very peaceful to sit and enjoy its beauty. There is a small unusual spring(?) coming out of the base of the bridge on the right.
On our hikes back out, we spent sometime hanging out by the stream. There are plenty of large rocks you can sit on while you enjoy the water. Once we arrived back at the car, we headed to Moab Brewery - a must do on every trip to Moab no matter how long the wait is!
What are you favorite so hidden gem hikes in Moab?
Karl and I were in Augusta Georgia for an extended weekend for one of his best friend's wedding in which he was a groomsmen. Georgia in April is H-O-T. I spent almost all of my life living in the south, but after a year in Utah I forgot how hot and humid it could be. (My hair was a mess all weekend). It was refreshing to get some sun though!
Since Karl was a groomsmen and the wedding wasn't til the evening on Saturday, I needed to find a way to fill my day. After dropping Karl off for groomsmen festivities, I pulled up my Apple Maps. One of my favorite ways to find parks and monuments nearby that might not pull up in a Google search is to zoom in and out on the maps until I find something of interest. I came across Congaree National Park in South Carolina (about an hour and a half from Augusta, GA) - a NP that I had never heard of!
I drove from Augusta to Congaree via Columbia, SC in a little less than an hour and half. Upon arriving, I went into the Visitor Center to show my parks pass only to find out this is a fee free park! I grabbed a map and headed out on the Boardwalk Loop Trail - 2.4 miles.
Since the park lies on floodplains, everything is very flat. Congaree is actually the largest tract of bottomland hardwood forest. The particular trail I chose was on a boardwalk constructed over the plains. There are benches along the way for enjoying the scenery. Congaree is very lush! I also saw tons of lizards/geckos/salamanders (I cannot tell the difference).
I didn't have very much time too spend here as I had to be back in time to get ready to attend the wedding - however I did notice that you can rent kayaks/canoes and tour the flooded areas!