Foster Falls Climber's Loop Foster Falls Recreation Area, TN
miles
LENGTH 2.5 MILES
DIFFICULTY 4.3 Easy
DURATION 1-2 hours
ELEVATION GAIN
430
feet
TRAIL TYPE
Loop
Foster Falls Climber's Loop

Hike this short scenic loop beginning with Foster Falls, continuing along a popular rock climbing path and rounding out with views along the Fiery Gizzard Trail. Not far out of Chattanooga, this loop has a bit of everything if you're willing to navigate it's rocky terrain. A few parts might be tricky for some dogs but I saw several along the path nonetheless.

The trail begins along the paved path next to the info board. Almost immediately you'll come to a signed intersection. Straight is an observation deck and for this description I continued to the left to head to the bottom of the falls. To the right is the Fiery Gizzard Trail if you wanted to hike this loop counter-clockwise.

The trail follows underneath power lines before returning to the woods and heading steeply down a rocky path. Look for the white blazes to help guide you. Crossing a suspension bridge, Foster Falls is to the right. Dropping 60 feet into a large swimming pool, this is where most people end their journey.

Head back past the suspension bridge, following Little Gizzard Creek downstream for a short period. From here until reaching the Fiery Gizzard, the trail stays close to the vertical rock walls of the gorge. This is a popular spot for rock climbers. The trail seems to split in several places, but rejoins immediately after and always stays near the wall. In many places the trail can only be described as a pile of rocks you have to walk through.

If you want a slightly shorter route, head up the signed "Exit 1" for the Climber's Access 1 Trail. Otherwise continue around the larger loop, eventually climbing out of the gorge and up some steps. At the steps, turn right to connect to the Fiery Gizzard Trail. From here you'll go right to finish the loop but first head left for .15 miles for an excellent view.

Hiking back toward the trailhead, pass the 2 connections to the Climber's Loop Trail and a few more marked side trails to campgrounds. Along the way you'll get excellent views of Foster Falls from above and cross over Little Gizzard Creek upstream from the falls. Eventually you'll hit the power lines again, following them to connect back to the initial intersection to complete the loop.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Slope Breakdown
Elevation Gain
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Length
Elevation Gain
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
0.8 mi
85 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
0.4 mi
153 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
365 ft
42 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
366 ft
62 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
486 ft
128 ft
Elevation Loss
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Length
Elevation Loss
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
0.5 mi
74 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
0.3 mi
120 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
0.1 mi
76 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
329 ft
53 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
520 ft
130 ft
Terrain Map Click to control map
Navigation
Reverse Hike loop in reverse direction.
0.0 mi
0.0 mi - Trailhead Start at the paved path next to the info sign.
0.08 mi
0.08 mi - Turn Left at Observation Platform Turn left, following the sign to the bottom of the falls. But first, head straight for an observation platform to view the falls.
0.28 mi
0.28 mi - Foster Falls and Suspension Bridge Cross over the suspension bridge and turn right for the falls.
0.72 mi
0.72 mi - Exit 1 / Climbers Access 1 If you want a shorter loop, take this signed exit, otherwise stay straight. Just after this pass another signed side trail on right for climbing routes.
1.0 mi
1.0 mi - Turn Right After Stairs Exit the gorge, climbing a set of steps. Turn right here. Left disappears in the woods.
1.07 mi
1.07 mi - Fiery Gizzard Trail Turn right to complete the loop but first turn left to head out to a view.
1.23 mi
1.23 mi - View, Then Turn Around From here, backtrack to the previous intersection to complete the loop.
1.6 mi
1.6 mi - Pass Climbers Access 1 / Exit 1 on Right Hike past the first exit from the Climber's Loop on the right.
1.8 - 1.92 mi
1.8 - 1.92 mi - Side Trails A couple side trail lead out to an ok view on the right, then pass as signed side trail on the left for Father Adamz campground.
2.0 mi
2.0 mi - View of Foster Falls from Above Don't miss an excellent view of the falls from above on the right.
2.2 mi
2.2 mi - Side Trail Pass another signed side trail to campsites on the left.
2.25 mi
2.25 mi - Bridge Cross over Little Gizzard Creek upstream from the falls.
2.45 mi
2.45 mi - Turn Left at First Intersection Return to the first intersection that forms the loop, turning left to head back to the trailhead.
2.53 mi
2.53 mi - Return to Trailhead
Details
length2.5 miles
difficulty4.3 Easy
duration1 - 2 hours
trail typeLoop
blazeWhite
elevation gain430 ft.
state Tennessee 
park/forestFoster Falls Recreation Area
South Cumberland State Park
parking feeNone
trailhead coordinates 35.182252, -85.673932 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°10.94, W 85°40.44 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 35°10'56'', N 35°10'56'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
35.182252, -85.673932 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°10.94, W 85°40.44 most GPS units use this one
N 35°10'56'', N 35°10'56'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
The gates are open 6am-10pm.
Parking Capacity
60-70 vehicles between the paved lot and gravel overflow.
Notes
Restrooms are available at the trailhead.
The trail is very rocky and has several steep drop offs. Watch children and pets.
Nearby Hikes
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
5 (3)
ecd916-4 months ago
Great HIke - just hard on this 58-year-old
I went counter-clockwise and used the climber exit shortcut. I wanted to have the falls as my reward. I went early in the morning on a warm day and was the only one on the trail. I found several of the descents on the trail a bit scary and uncomfortable for my short legs. But the falls were a great reward. I sat there with my feet in the water, enjoying the view and the sound, but within 30 minutes, it was filling up with people. Glad I got there early. When someone started smoking, decided it was time to leave and I went up the steep trail most people use. One man my age looked at me and said "Glad my wife didn't come or I would have been called every name except a child of God by now," which I thought was funny. It was a great day out and hope to do it again, but not easy for an older female person re-entering the hiking world. Really glad I had trekking poles and good boots.
Medium-Hard | Hiked Summer 2020
hikethesouth-1 year ago
Great Loop
This is an excellent loop that has a waterfall and several views. You'll also get to watch rock climbers do their thing especially on weekends. Perfect chill hike for a hot summer day.
Easy | Hiked Summer 2019
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