For those who might be interested in the Savage Gulf here's a rough out on my 3ish day experience.
There are two main entry points..Savage Gulf Ranger Station (the one I chose) and Stone Door Ranger Station.
At Savage Gulf RS the ranger lives in a house close by---safe parking!
Whether you start at Savage or Stone Door there are multi-day loop possibilities depending on how far you want to go/stay out.
I made a loop combing several trails...Savage Day Loop+North Rim+Connector+Historic Stage Road+South Rim+Savage Day Loop. Counting blue blazes to overlooks my total was 22 miles.
I left the trailhead at 3:45pm and did the 8.2 to Hobbs Cabin...beyond the cabin are 8 tent sites. Made it there 30 minutes before dark.
The rangers stress NO hiking after dark---someone has probably fallen off one of the bluffs but I think you'd have to try real hard.
Also, the rangers know the back/easy/quick way into the campsites and they check on you to see if you have arrived...well at least according to some tenters I met the morning of the second day who said the rangers did come by.
Note, Savage Gulf is quota system for backpackers. Each ranger station has a list of all campsite, you sign off for a tent site, when they are full you are denied entrance.
I'd worked the bee hives, drove 5 hours, then 8 miles in 3.3 hours=10 hours of solid sleep in the Warbonnet
Left the Hobbs Cabin area to tackle the 'hardest section' in the Savage Gulf...the Connector Trail. Just think 1.5 miles of rock garden in a 3.1 mile stretch. The I used the Stage Road (2.5 miles uphill over cobble cobble cobble), on the Nat. Hist. Register because slave labor was used to construct the road from Chattanooga to McMinnville.
I made it to my assigned campsite 7ish miles by noon and decided to move on another 6 miles to Savage Falls Campsite(s).....I officially violated the rules but what was I going to do the rest of the day. Made it there by 4pm and took a nice nap, reflected on the Stage Road which was really nice near the end with plentiful water features; in fact the entire Gulf that I saw was full of water falls, creeks, suspensions bridges, and gigantic sinks where 3 streams dissapear underground.
Stage Road took me to the North Rim Trail. Note that the South Riim and North Rim trails are boulevards whereas the Connector Trail is like the northern 140 miles of Penn. on the AT.
Hobbs Campsite(s) and Savage Falls Campsite(s) are easily hammockable though no ranger ever found me to question the use---but nothing official in the rules against.
My third day/last morning put me at Savage Falls early in the morning.....it is like a mini Fall Creek Falls complete with a sizeable fall and a beautiful pool to dip/swim/relax in.
The loop I did would be perfect for beginning backpackers...enough easy to stretch the legs, enough hard (Connector Trail) to make you feel like you earned your Savage Gulf pin.
A huge bonus in this area is that there is little need to carry much water very far--at least this time of year.
New gear on this trip:
The downy goodness was provided by hammockgear.com Their summer TQ and 3 season UQ....both immaculate in construction. Late at night I did add a WM Flash parka for more warmth on top but I'm a cold sleeper.
Also the new 'Stealth-Cat' by OES---one word REMARKABLE. 6.4 ounces and good coverage for a Warbonnet Blackbird. The stealthy green color is a perfect match for spring foliage.
On the way home I felt like monkeying around so I stopped at the Rhea Country Criminal Courthouse in Dayton,TN......poor monkey died 4 days after the trail as did William Jennings Bryant
Almost forgot....ran out of Aqua-Mira but the BackCountryBoiler came to the rescue boiling water