LATE BREAKING ADVENTURE: Join us as we explore largely undisturbed, largely unknown virgin timber at the under-utilized Franklin-Marion State Forest.
CARPOOL#1: Depart time is 7 am (CT), Antioch Target at Bell Rd Exit 59 off I-24;
CARPOOL#2: Depart time is 7:35 am (CT), Murfreesboro Cracker Barrel at Exit 81-B off I-24;
DRIVE TIME: ~Approx 1.5 hrs from Antioch
DIFFICULTY RATING:Moderate periods, with potentially strenuous Exploration, for hiking distance and rugged terrain
HIKING DISTANCE: 8-9 miles.
HIKE TIME: ~ 5-6 hours
Directions from Antioch Target
AGENDA: We should arrive at the north trailhead by 9:00 am (CT). We will convene here, then drive down about 4 miles to Hwy 156 to the southern trailhead pull-off. This highway bisects the state forest.
From "K" on the map, we will hike a clockwise loop, hitting points L through R on the western side. We will leave the marked trail at point R and cross about 1.25 miles to meet the eastern trail near Panther's Cove, then complete the circle hiking south across points G through J, and ultimately back to the starting point at K.
A winter hike will almost certainly mean wetter conditions. Any rain that falls within a couple of days leading to the trip could make certain segments soggy, slick, and hazardous. Under those conditions,there is the likelihood of a stream crossing or two and rock-hopping.
More about the Agenda: I do not expect to bushwhack exclusively, except for the parts where we leave "R" to find "F-G" for about 1.25 miles. I would call at least half of this trip Exploratory, as I have not hiked this entire agenda previously. And there's always the chance, time permitting, that I find a gorge or rock garden climb that we simply cannot resist. As always, bring your sense of adventure...and your headlamp, just in case.
Directions from Antioch Target
Directions: From Antioch, take Interstate-24 East toward Chattanooga. Take Exit 134 and turn left to head toward Sewanee on Highway 41A. After 3 miles, turn left on Midway Road/Highway 156 and follow 156 for about 7.5 miles. Look for the Forestry sign and buildings on your right. The north trailhead entrance to the state forest will be on your right. Park anywhere along the gravel driveway.
History: In 2011, I was introduced to Franklin-Marion State Forest by walking mostly the ridge lines for 8 miles. In the exploratory trips since, I have found great rocky gorges, scenic streams, primitive campsites, and each time, found at least one cave opening; sometimes multiple caves.
Why is this trip listed as Scouting/Exploratory?
- There is an almost 100% chance we will go off-trail for about a 1.25 mile stretch (and maybe occasionally with little warning or apparent purpose )
- You must be an experienced hiker who is comfortable with strenuous-to-difficult hikes; I do tend to keep a fairly quick pace
- If you are looking for a hike to join with a clear, on-the-trails only, established agenda---then this day hike is NOT for you.
- Bring plenty of water, snacks. Optional post-hike meal on the way back off Interstate I-24 or in Monteagle, TN (think Crust Pizza or Papa Ron's).
- My aim is to return to the trailhead before sunset. I recommend you always pack a headlamp with fresh batteries as a precaution.
- RSVP with integrity. If you sign up, but learn you cannot attend, be sure to promptly change your RSVP to "Can't Go"
- Be courteous and offer your carpool driver money for gas and vehicle use. With the price of gas averaging $3.25 (as of December 2012), considering the mileage alone, $15 per person should be the minimum offer.
- No dogs, no kids under 13 allowed.
Trail Map link
NOTE: (Rudyard Kipling, who wrote The Jungle Book, was born on this date, December 30, 1865--and he is however in no way directly affiliated with this forest)