The Place: Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park
The Hike: Rocky Fork Trail to Flint Creek Trail to terminus.
This nearly 6-mile out-and-back hike is one of the more straightforward hikes in the area. That’s partially due to the extraordinary job the staff at Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park. These trails are well-maintained and clearly marked.
It was a cool end-of-October 2018, and the trail was swampy in spots due to recent rain.
The hike to Flint Gap is ranked as “moderate” by several hiking apps and websites. It’s a gradual uphill that starts off with the well-travelled and graveled Rocky Fork Trail. From there, it’s on to the Flint Creek Trail.
Two bridge crossings and through the clearing that’s the Flint Creek Battle Site, you continue the uphill trudge toward Flint Gap. While the steepness grade of the trail is generally in the 5% area, there are spots where it’s much higher. In particular, I remember one area that my map marked as 48% grade.
For the most part, this part of the trail allows breathtaking views of Flint Creek from above. The trail follows a ridgeline, with the creek well below.
At two points, trails with similar names spur off to the north from the Flint Creek Trail. Blockstand Creek Access Trail and Blockstand Creek Route may head in similar directions, but I wouldn’t recommend hopping on those trails unless you’re hiking all day. Once you pass the trailhead for Blockstand Creek Route, you’re about 0.15 miles from your goal.
If you’re headed for this gap and are thinking expansive views like Sam’s Gap or Carvers Gap, you will be disappointed. This is literally a gap between two mountains. It’s wide enough for several people to walk through together, but the woods and terrain prevent views. I encourage you to have some fun jumping from Tennessee to North Carolina and back again. There’s some markers denoting the spot.
At the end of this trail, you’ll also notice stairs up part of the mountain. These lead up to the Appalachian Trail.
Overall, a great little hike that’s not too difficult. A nice one for the fall and leaf peeping!