The Savage Gulf Death March~ 27.3 miles

CAUTION: THIS IS A VERY EXTREME HIKE.  PLEASE READ THE COMPLETE HIKE DESCRIPTION BELOW AND RSVP WITH INTEGRITY.

Starting point and meetup location for this event will be in front of the ranger station at the Stone Door trailhead.

Hiking distance is 27.3 miles according to the breakdown of the hiking route, using the trail descriptions given on the park trail map.

  This is a very strenuous hike due to its distance.  There's a few short climbs and descents involved with this hike, going into and out of the Gulf. The rim trails are generally smooth and easy to hike, but the interior Gulf trails can be wet and very rugged. Estimated hike time will vary depending on each individual's capabilities, but expect to be hiking between 10 to 14 hours total. 

  Each hiker will be be accountable for their own safety, transportation, and completion of the hike. However, I encourage every hiker to use a buddy system at the minimum for safety reasons. It's best to hike with someone, but if your pace has you hiking alone, then choose another person going as a hiking safety buddy. The two of you can use each other as a person to report to, insuring you both make it out safely. 

  Be advised, this is a self paced hike and not a group lead hike. You as an individual must have the ability to read the park map, and follow the route given in the hike description.

  A carpool meetup will not benefit this hike. It will be best if everyone provides their own transportation to this hike. If you choose to carpool, only do so with one other person.  Everyone will finish at various times, and it would be unreasonable to expect anyone to wait very long for others they carpooled with to finish.

The map for the park can be downloaded and view at this web link:  http://www.friendsofscsra.org/savage-gulf-trail-map.pdf

Below is the hiking route & mileage:  

0.9 From the Stone Door Ranger Station hike to the Stone Door Overlook and the beginning of the Big Creek Rim Trail. 

3.2 Hike the Big Creek Rim Trail to its junction with the Big Creek Gulf Trail.
3.1 Hike the Big Creek Gulf Trail to its junction with the Connector Trail.
3.2 Hike east on the Connector Trail to its junction with the Collins Gulf Trail.
9.9 Hike the complete Collins Gulf Trail which is the combination of the Collins Gulf and Collins Rim Trail.  It will end at its junction with the Stagecoach Road Historic Trail.
1.6 Hike the Stagecoach Road Historic Trail to its junction with the Connector Trail.
3.6 Hike west on the Connector Trail to its junction with the Big Creek Gulf Trail.
0.9 Turn Right onto the Big Creek Gulf Trail which goes up through the Stone Door.
0.9 Once at the top of the Stone Door, hike the Stone Door Trail back to the Stone Door Ranger Station and the parking area.

Total mileage = 27.3

Safety Note:  If you haven't reached the Collins West Camp Area by 1 PM, you're hiking pace is to slow, and you'll be finishing past dark if you continue.  If this occurs to you, please exit here on the Collins Gulf Access Trail and hike 1/4 mile out to the parking area.  I will drive to this location after finishing my hike to see if any hikers ended their hike at this location.  If you do end your hike at this location, and need a ride back to Stone Door, be prepared to sit there for a few hours waiting for me to finish my hike and make the drive around to that location.  I drive a Jeep, which is silver in color with a black top, and I'll only be able to transport 3 people if needed.

Mandatory hiking gear will be:

~Small Day-Pack
~Water- carry at least 64 ounces and have the ability to filter or treat more along the way.
~Food and energy source- carry something that can be eaten without cooking that will re-supply your body with nutrients and electrolytes. A healthy sack lunch and some trail mix to eat along the way are a good choice.
~Headlamp or flashlight
~Park map, or at least a print out of our hike route and its description.


Optional items to carry:
~Trekking poles
~Rain gear
~Extra pair of socks
~Cell Phone
~Pen and paper
~Small first aid kit
~Emergency fire starting items
~Emergency space blanket

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  • Jim M.

    GREAT HIKE TODAY! We had 4 complete the full 27.3 mile hike (Meryl, Michael, Jim, Rich), 2 that did 15 miles (david, Kacee) and 2 that did a shorter loop hike from Stone Door, of which I'm not sure of their mileage (Rudy, Andrew). Everybody made it out safe except for me. I rolled my left ankle pretty bad just short of the half-way point, but I still manage to hike the full hike in exactly 11 hours.

    1 · May 10, 2014

  • Meryl

    We have Rich

    1 · May 10, 2014

    • Jim M.

      Great thanks.

      May 10, 2014

  • Sue W.

    full hike

    May 9, 2014

  • Dave S.

    Rain, rain go away!!!

    May 9, 2014

  • Jim M.

    I still haven't gotten a full count of who all is doing the full 27.3 mile hike. So far I have Heather, Rich, Meryl, and I believe Dave and Rudy are attempting it as well. If you're not in this list and you're going to attempt the full 27.3 mile hike, please reply to this comment with your name.

    May 8, 2014

    • Michael H.

      I'm doing the full hike for sure.

      May 8, 2014

    • Kacee

      15 for me

      May 9, 2014

  • Merrie Beth S.

    I'll be packed for this trip with the plan to follow Giselle's group and decide for sure on Friday if I can make it and the jobbie job and bad weather doesn't get in the way. I'll be driving from Huntsville so I would get in around dark.

    1 · May 7, 2014

    • Giselle

      Hi Merrie Beth,

      Sounds good. Ill shoot you a private email right now.

      May 7, 2014

  • Giselle

    Hey all,

    To the three of you not in our group, we are going to spend the night on Friday at Collins West Campsite. We will get there around 7:00pm. You guys are more then welcomed to join us!!! Within our group we will either be hiking 27.3, 20, or 15.5 miles. Our group will have vehicles at both ends of park (Stone Door and Collins West) so Jim you don't have to worry about nine of us. We will make sure everyone in our group is accounted for. See you guys Saturday!

    2 · May 6, 2014

    • Giselle

      Heather. do you want to camp with us on Friday night at Collins West Camp? I have to check what's going on regarding weather if weather is fine we will camp on Friday night at Collins. My email is [masked]

      May 6, 2014

    • Merrie Beth S.

      Giselle, I may come and camp Friday (almost a two hour drive from here) and then hike the 15.5. It will depend upon work stuff this week and I'll likely decide Friday afternoon what my plan is. And of course, I'd want to do a weather check.

      1 · May 7, 2014

  • Jim M.

    The hike isn't for another 5 days yet, but as of now the forecast is looking like almost 100% chance of rain for Saturday, and then less on Sunday.
    I will do the hike rain or shine, but I'm not opposed to delaying the hike until Sunday if everyone was in agreement to this.
    I wouldn't want to make such a decision until at least Friday at noon to verify the forecast, but I'd be interested in knowing what everyone's opinion is on this possibly happening?

    May 6, 2014

    • Dave S.

      Rain or shine, that trail is mine!!

      1 · May 6, 2014

    • Jim M.

      Then Saturday it is, and a rain hike we shall possibly have!

      May 6, 2014

  • Patrick "Rogue L.

    Truly a marathon design. I've done something similar at S Cumberland. Toughest mile was the next to last or, as listed above, '0.9 Turn Right onto the Big Creek Gulf Trail which goes up through the Stone Door'. If the weather is dry---YOU CAN DO IT!!!

    2 · April 27, 2014

    • Kenneth

      You shouldn't be so harsh to others when in your own words on FB, you described your own near death experience. You were rescued by other hikers who seek helped from the rangers.

      May 6, 2014

    • Jim M.

      If your referring to my FB page, it wasn't a near death experience, just a severe case of cramps, and I was fully prepared to spend the night on the trail if needed. It just happened to work out in my favor I was able to get help, and be recovered that evening. But that being said, I know personally about not being able to complete a potentially dangerous hike.

      1 · May 6, 2014

  • Jim M.

    I've contacted the South Cumberland Recreation Area, and they have graciously made special arrangements to have the gate open for us by 6 AM on the day of our hike. Thanks "Rich J" for pointing this oversight out to me, this isn't something they normally do for people.

    2 · April 22, 2014

    • Jim M.

      The options Giselle has mentioned are great, but please don't proceed past the halfway point I mentioned above in my hike description if your pace won't allow you to complete the remaining hike by nightfall. If hikers are out past nightfall, the rangers automatically initiate a search mode.

      April 24, 2014

    • Joel

      I've hiked/camped out there several times. They never closed the gate.

      May 4, 2014

  • Mendy

    Sorry Guys I can't make this one. I have to go to Germany.

    May 3, 2014

  • Rich J

    Jim...we hiked at Stone Door yesterday and on the way in the sign says "gates open at 7AM." Have you worked out something with the park to start at 6A?

    2 · April 20, 2014

    • Dave S.

      GREAT question Rich!!

      1 · April 20, 2014

    • Jim M.

      No I wasn't aware of that. I will contact them and work things out for us. I will post it here once I get it worked out.

      2 · April 20, 2014

  • Rebecca S.

    My niece graduates that day and we'll have a family party afterwards. Hate to miss this hike!

    April 14, 2014

    • Dave S.

      Bummer R!!! I saw you dropped!! We will save some trail for you

      1 · April 20, 2014

  • Giselle

    Hi Jim, since " Each hiker will be be accountable for their own safety, transportation, and completion of the hike" a few of us who have rsvp will carpool to Stone Door together. We will leave one car at the start and another at the Collins West Camp Area in case for an emergency. I will find out about cell reception and depending on that our group may use walkie talkies. We are planning to either camp at the park after our hike or slum it at a cheap motel. You are more than welcomed to camp with us should we go that route. Looking forward to the challenge!

    1 · March 31, 2014

    • Mendy

      I have Verizon and at each ranger station I get enough signal for a call. But you may have to stand really still to keep that signal. :) Data is out of the question. Texting usually works fine. I'll offer my house for a stay over point. I'm live about30-40 minutes at most from either side of the park.

      1 · April 18, 2014

    • Giselle

      Thanks Mendy! Someone in our group lives an hour away from park so about 7 of us will be spending the night at his place.

      April 18, 2014

  • Jim M.

    The trails on the map link above don't show up very clear if it isn't printed with a color printer, plus if printed on regular size paper it's hard to view.
    It's best if everyone actually views the trails on-line so that they can view it more clearly. The park maps at the kiosk are full size and easier to read.

    April 7, 2014

  • Jim M.

    Giselle,
    A link for the complete and detailed map of the park is already posted above in my description. The first page (backside of map) is a detailed description of all the trails in the park. The second page is the complete park map with all trails and points of interest included on it. Everyone should print the map, then follow the detailed hike description I gave for our route and highlight it on their map. There's also these exact park maps available for hikers at the trailhead kiosk by the ranger station.
    It's very important for everyone to look at this map and familiarize themselves with our route before going.

    1 · April 7, 2014

    • Giselle

      Sounds good. I'll make sure our carpool/camp group get a copy. Thanks!

      April 7, 2014

  • Giselle

    Jim, Would you mind posting the Savage Trail map and highlighting the route we are going to take please? It would be helpful for those who have not hiked all of the parks trails. I will also bring color copies of the map below for our carpool/camp group since we all have different paces and a couple of people in our group will only be hiking about 10 miles. Thanks!

    http://www.backpackcamp.com/Maps/SavageTrail.jpg

    April 7, 2014

  • Jackie H.

    NO WAY!! This would be suicide for me at this point. Maybe next year or the next !!

    March 31, 2014

    • Jim M.

      That's why it's called a "Death March"! Even the most fit hikers are going to struggle with this hike.

      1 · March 31, 2014

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