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Centennial Wilderness/Virgin Falls Loop

Anyone getting antsy waiting for the cool fall weather to roll in and backpacking season to start up?  I am!  Fortunately it appears August is giving us a little cooler than normal temperatures and we should take advantage.

Let's head out Saturday Morning to the Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness and Virgin Falls SNA for a weekend overnighter.  This area is about 1hr 45 minutes from Lebanon, TN.  We will start at the Virgin Falls Trailhead, descend down to the waterfalls (hopefully decent flow with predicted rains this week.)  Instead of turning around and heading back to the cars, we will cross the Caney Fork River.  We'll hike along the Caney Fork River Trail to Amber's Den Campground for Saturday night.

Sunday morning we'll get up and follow the Caney Fork River Trail to the Polly Branch Falls Trail, or the Chestnut Mountain Ranch Trail, depending on how we feel.  Both these trails lead back up to the plateau and the Polly Branch Trailhead (requiring a short road walk back to Virgin Falls TH parking.)

This itinerary will involve fording the Caney Fork River at least 4 times.  Sometimes it is bone dry, other times it could be quite high (we will turn back if it appears risky).  If it isn't too hot, we'll probably set up a small campfire Saturday night and enjoy camping riverside.

SAT should be about 6-7 miles

SUN should be around 10-12 miles

--If we feel good and are doing well time-wise Sat, we might go further up the river, to leave fewer miles for Sunday.

This trip will be a moderate backpack!  Let me know if you have questions.


NOTE:  I have never been hiking in this area before so please be flexible.

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  • Rob C.

    Had a great time despite high humidity and a nasty bee sting on my ear. Thanks for coming along for this stroll along the Caney Fork!

    August 19, 2012

  • Greg

    Although overgrown, the Caney Fork River Trail is very scenic, and the Polly Branch Falls Trail is well maintained and a beautiful walk through the woods. The rock houses, springs and falls on this loop were well worth the effort. This was an excellent plan for an overnight.

    August 19, 2012

  • Randy

    Awesome trip in a widerness area with some great hikers.

    August 19, 2012

  • Randy

    I've done the caney fork trail before and stream crossings were not much higher than my knee before. I'd imagine the water level be a bit low now and make the crossings eaiser now. That seems to be the trend among other watersheds I've been in recently.

    August 14, 2012

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