Posts Tagged With: Laurel Trail

Boy Scout Led Hike

I have had the privilege of guiding several people on their first hike, both youth and adults! It’s a feeling that I won’t soon forget. To see the look in a kids eye when he see’s a huge waterfall for the first time, or the genuine “thank you” from a friend after a milestone on the trail, is something you can’t put a price tag on. Normally that experience has a lot of planning on my part. What are this persons limits? What are their interests? What kind of gear and experience do they have? Meals…packs…location…and the questions are endless! This time that planning was not upon my shoulders…

This weekend was different!

The young men from 2 patrols at Troop 402 in Tullahoma, TN treated the adults to an incredible weekend in the  South Cumberland Recreation Area. Our hike didn’t just begin with boots on the ground at the Stone Door Ranger Station. Our hike began September 27th with the planning that was necessary for an overnighter! The boys from the Eagle and Smokey Bear Patrols set the date and location for their first planning meeting at the Dairy Queen in our home town of Tullahoma TN. The boys learned to work as a group and plan the details that 11-13 year old kids would normally pass off to an adult. The boys had logistics to plan…Where will we go? How will we get there? What trails will we hike when we get there? What will we eat? The list is endless! The boys decided the destination would be the Stone Door Ranger Station. We would hike to the Stone Door and around the Big Creek Rim trail to the Alum Gap Camp Area, where we would set up camp for the night. The boys then planned to work on achievements and advancements.

The hike begins with…

signing in and registering for our camping permit at the Stone Door Ranger Station. A .9 mile hike from the Ranger Station to the overlook at the Great Stone Door, and the view from the overlooks get us pumped for the hike!From the Stone Door Overlook the trail takes a right to begin the Big Creek Rim Trail for 3.2 miles along the plateau above the Big Creek Gulf. The Rim trail can form half of a loop trail including either the Laurel Trail or the Big Creek Gulf (home of Ranger Falls).The loop the boys chose was Laurel Trail. It provided a shorter distance to traverse with heavy packs and avoided the elevation change that they would have encountered in the Gulf. The pic above of Ranger Falls I took only a week before while hiking the Gulf.

The Big Creek Rim Trail provides some awesome viewing points along the way. Those points do come at the cost of having to take close watch of your younger guests. The cliffs, that at times are only feet from you, are very easy to navigate but they do require 100% attention from the adult guides! The boys easily navigate the Rim Trail to Alum Gap Campsite.

Alum Gap was packed with Scouts and other campers. We met Scouts from Murfreesboro & Clarksville TN!

An awesome night’s sleep was had and the next morning…

we all awoke and started about the business of cooking and eating breakfast, making coffee, and hot chocolate. Clean up of course and the inevitable packing process! We had church service on the cliff side, and broke camp!  Laurel Falls leads the boys back to the Stone Door Ranger Station on it’s 2.9 miles of meandering dirt track through the woods and past an old moonshine still. After completing the hike and arriving back at the Ranger Station in record time, we decided to drive our vehicles down to the Greeter Falls parking area and check out the falls for those who had never seen them. It had been over 14 years since I had been there with old friends and I had forgotten what a site it was to behold! I don’t think this trip is something the boy, nor adults, will soon forget!Troop 402’s future is in the pic above! Our Troop has a lot of up and coming talent and has a lot that has “Eagled out”. The boys above have the ability to help mold the future for their Troop, Themselves, and possibly our Nation. One thing is for sure, these boys will remember the time they spent on this trail as brothers and will hopefully carry a deep desire to protect Mother Nature and all her grandeur!


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