Buggytop Trail :: Carter State Natural Area, South Cumberland State Park

If you want a not-so-long day hike but still want to get out somewhere wild, try the Buggytop Trail, which is part of Carter State Natural Area. This SNA is part of South Cumberland State Park, which, if you remember, is a state park that is scattered all over the southern part of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee.

This trail leads down to a pretty spectacular cave called Lost Cove Cave. I feel like many people don’t talk about this trail with so many other spectacular things in the area, but I think it’s worth a visit. At the ‘T’ in the trail, you can also visit Peter Cave (to the left) but let me just tell you it is pretty treacherous to approach — a 45 degree angle of very slippery and sharp rocks to get down to the cave opening, I went down 2 steps and turned around. You do get a nice view of the entrance to Buggytop from above if you want to check that out.

Taking the right at the ‘T’ will lead you down to the mouth of Lost Cove Cave. It is a huge entrance and the origin and beginning of a beautiful rushing stream (Crow Creek). It was a pretty warm day and inside the cave was cool and damp and a lovely respite from the hot sun.

Please note that in order to fully enter the cave, you need a free permit, which you can get here. Also, in the summertime, the park rangers lead caving explorations of Lost Cove Cave so you can actually go in and spelunk to your heart’s content. I am severely claustrophobic so caves usually aren’t my friend. Give me a mountain top any day.

Since you are in the infamous Cumberland Plateau, you do get some of the classic hilly plateau views along the way, too.


Distance from Nashville: 1hr 30min

Getting to the trailhead: Buggytop Trailhead on Sherwood Rd. (Please note parking is very limited!)

Trail: Buggytop Trail, out-and-back to Lost Cove Cave

Link to trail map: Lost Cove Map

Length of hike: 4 miles (2 miles each way), allow about 2 hours and extra time for relaxing at the cave

Brief overview: Some rocky ascensions and descents along a ridge with some views and a spectacular cave at the end as a payoff.

Favorite Trail Food

I think that one of the biggest mistakes a novice hiker can make is not bringing any food on a hike no matter how short the distance. You may not end up eating anything, but it’s always better to throw something in your pack and have it just in case. If you are hiking more than 4-5 miles, I would recommend bringing a few snacks. I don’t want to sound too alarmist, but you never know what could happen, even on a short hike, and it’s always better to be as prepared as you can be.

(Note: You ALWAYS want to bring water. Always. Always. Always. Even if you think it is silly to bring water because the hike is so short, do it. You never know what may happen and you want to be able to hydrate yourself.)

To give you a few ideas of what to bring along on your hikes, I’ll share some of my favorite things to snack on while hiking. I usually like to pack both sweet and salty snacks.

EAT Ultra Bars: For when you want an updated granola bar

Say farewell to those dry and cardboard-y Quaker Oat chocolate chip granola bars that your mom gave you when you were a kid. These cherry chocolate bars from Everyday Adventure Treats are a serious upgrade from your run-of-the-mill bar. Made with local and sustainable fruits and nuts, these bars are chewy and perfectly balanced. I love that there’s just a hint of salt to complement the natural sweetness. Plus, they are filling for a small snack. There’s five different flavors, so I’m sure you’ll find your favorite! You can get them via the Everyday Adventure Treats website.

Noka Superfood Smoothie: For when it’s so hot out, you can’t imagine eating solid food

These are one of my favorite snacks when hiking in hot weather. It’s like grown-up applesauce in a pouch. It’s made with all organic ingredients and also has some protein and other superfoods. They taste really great and aren’t full of sugar. My favorite flavors are Blueberry Beet and Mango Coconut, but I haven’t tried a flavor I didn’t like. You can get them via Amazon or their online store.

Honey Stinger Cracker Bar: For when you need the perfect balance of salty, sweet and crunchy

I love pretty much all of Honey Stinger’s products, but this cracker bar is lights-out good for a grab-and-go bar. It’s two multigrain crackers filled with a nut butter then dipped in chocolate. Sometimes, when I’m hiking, I just get so focused on the trail that I forget to take a break and eat. But, when you have a snack that you are excited about like this cracker bar, you make yourself take a seat and enjoy the view (and the treat). There’s three different varieties: Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate, Almond Butter Dark Chocolate and Cashew Butter Milk Chocolate. You can get them online from the Honey Stinger website or from REI.

PlayHard GiveBack Trail Mix: For when you want to mix up your trail mix

I’m not the biggest fan of trail mix overall. I mean, it’s fine, but it’s not something I normally go for. BUT! PlayHard GiveBack trail mix is so different and unique and great. Also, they are part of 1% For the Planet. (Members donate 1% of their revenue each year to organizations that give back to the environment.) Each flavor has their own type of little energy bites, almonds, and cranberries. The rest of the ingredients are dependent upon the flavor. My favorite is the chocolate banana goji which has banana chips, mini peanut butter cups, and goji berries. Check out their website for more!

Nick’s Sticks: the perfect salty snack

What’s a hike without jerky? These grass-fed, perfectly-spiced beef sticks leave those dry, tasteless meat flakes in the dust. These meat sticks have all the good stuff and none of the bad. Because there’s two sticks in each pack, it’s the perfect amount of saltiness for your day hike. I love the spicy beef, but there’s also turkey and chicken varieties. You can order via Amazon or their website.

Rip Van Wafels: For when you need a trail dessert

These stroopwafel-esque snacks aren’t the most nutritionally complete snack for hiking, but packing it alongside other snacks makes it feel like a trail dessert. If you aren’t familiar with stroopwafels, it’s like a very thin waffle with a filling. (They are even better if they are warmed up over a cup of coffee or tea when the filling becomes gooey.) This brand, Rip Van Wafel, uses quality ingredients with no artificial flavors or preservatives. My favorite kind is the dutch caramel and vanilla, but they have a handful of other fun flavors like cookies and cream and snickerdoodle.

Of course there’s hundreds of things to eat while hiking, but I’m hoping this will spark some new ideas for eating on the trail.

What’s your favorite thing to eat while hiking?

Honey Creek Loop :: Big South Fork National Recreation Area

When I read review of a hike and it says “only recommended for very experienced hikers”, it immediately jumps to the top of my list.

Big South Fork is almost 3 hours from Nashville, so I put it off for quite a while. Also, I couldn’t find a great map for it because the loop created by other trails, which proved to be confusing . The map that the national park service has is dismal. Cool, thanks National Park Service.

This trail is no joke. Many parts of it are just creek beds and huge rocks. You find your way by searching for white blazes, then finding a way to get to that white blaze. It’s pretty amazing.


I took this photo standing in the middle of the trail, which is not really a trail at all

The trail isn’t very well marked which proves to be a bit of a challenge when you feel like you are hiking in circles. Particularly around the Indian Rock Loop and the Honey Creek Overlook. Just be prepared to really pay attention to your surroundings because the above map doesn’t really help too much. If you have a GPS, I would bring it, just as an extra precaution.


Ladder to Honey Creek Overlook, be sure to come back down these to rejoin the loop trail at the bottom

There are a few waterfalls and crazy cool cave like structures filled with stacked rocks and sketchy ladders.


Indian Rock House

So, if you can get past the difficulties, and are up for it, please hike this trail. It’s awesome.

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Honey Creek Overlook

Distance from Nashville: 2hr 45min

Trailhead: Off of Burnt Millford Road in Oneida, TN

Trail: Honey Creek Loop (see my route below)

Link to trail map: Honey Creek Loop Trail Map

Length of trail: Just under 6 miles, allow about 6 hours to be safe because it’s pretty slow going at times.

Overview: Very difficult and technical with great payoffs: waterfalls, overlook, boulders, streams, caves.

West Rim Loop Trial :: Cloudland Canyon State Park, GA

Somehow this one had slipped past me. I’d actually never heard of it until I was scouring the internet for new hikes near me. But, as soon as I saw the photos, I immediately made plans to hike here.



Located near Chattanooga, on the western side of Lookout Mountain, Cloudland Canyon has a few different trails and waterfalls. (It’s also a state park so it has campsites, yurts, cabins, and more people than I’m used to) As a bonus surprise, it costs $5 to enter this park, so bring your cash.

The West Rim Loop us just shy of 5 miles, but you can add on a mile or so if you hike to some of the waterfalls, which I suggest. The trail meanders along the top rim of the canyon and there are occasional boulder outcroppings to survey the land below. The terrain varies a little from rocky to dirt trails, and is overall a moderate hike.


Distance from Nashville: 2hrs 15min

Trailhead: Once inside park (DISCLAIMER: It costs $5 to enter this state park), follow signs for the trails. It starts near the beautiful overlook.

Trail: West Rim Loop + additional Waterfall trail (my route in yellow)

Link to trailhead: Cloudland Canyon Trail Map

Length of hike: 5 miles (about 7 if you do the out-and-back Overlook/Waterfall Trails as well)

Brief Overview: Great day hike close to Chattanooga that’s perfectly balanced with stunning views.