Hiking Stone Door/Laurel Falls Trail at South Cumberland State Park

November 26, 2017

If you’re looking for a short day hike that is easy for everyone in your party (maybe grandparents are in town, you have some little ones in tow or you’re just breaking in that new puppy to trail life) yet want somewhere that offers spectacular views and even a waterfall, then you’re looking to hike the Stone Door/Laurel Falls trail at South Cumberland State Park.

It was our destination of choice for our #optoutside Black Friday hike and although our original plans also included hiking to Greeter Falls, we, umm, ran short of time <cough> slept in <cough> so decided to make Stone Door our adventure for the day.

Stone Door trailhead is located about 1.5 hours south of Nashville off I-24, in Beersheba Springs, TN.  The trail is a simple 2 mile out-and-back with options to connect up to longer hikes, such as Big Creek Rim.

Ample parking and picnic tables are available. And lucky for you, the Ranger Station is right by the parking lot. Bathrooms at this trailhead are a plus! When we visited, the sinks were not available, so plan to bring some wet wipes or hand sanitizers.

Let your dog have a little walk around the trailhead area after you arrive so you can get any business taken care of before hitting the trail. No trash receptacles available after you leave the trailhead, so you’ll have to pack out any poop.

The beginning of the trail is paved and wide, so it’s completely accessible and leads you to your first vista, Laurel Gulf Overlook.

Benches are available for resting…but who wants to rest when there’s more hiking to be done?

From Laurel Gulf Overlook, you’ll hike an unpaved dirt trail, but mostly level as you are hiking the rim.  Very easy for little paws and little feet. And at the end, you’ll arrive at this.

The sandstone cliffs offer the most majestic views and some perfect photo ops. Hang on to that leash, though!

Signs remind visitors not to throw anything off the cliffs as there are hikers and climbers below them. Stone Door is a popular climbing spot, too. There is a toprope wall at the base that Vanderbilt University uses for classes.

After we enjoyed our views from the cliffs, we headed back to the trail and descended down the Stone Door.

The Stone Door is a crack in the cliffs, over 100 feet deep and about 10 feet wide. It has been used for centuries by humans and animals as a way to descend from the bluff to the floor below. It’s steep and there are no handrails, so use caution.

Your dog will probably want to run to the bottom, it looks like so much fun. Easy, easy – good girl!

From the bottom of the Door, you can continue on down to hook up to Big Creek Gulf Trail ( a 4 mile, difficult hike) but for this easy day trip, we just turned around and climbed back up the stone steps to return by the Stone Door trail to the trailhead.

Back at the Ranger Station, there is a short trail that leads to Laurel Falls. The stairs are steep but have handrails and the call of the water rushing over the rocks pulls you forward to the overlook.

We could have continued on the Laurel Falls Loop, but the sun was beginning to drop in the sky and sunset was nearing.

Hikers have to be off the trails by sunset, so we returned to the parking area.

Easy hike for everyone in the family and the payoff is worth it. Ample opportunities for photos, longer hikes, picnics and getting in some leg work with all the stairs! Your dog will love it. So will you.

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