The Hike: Sinking Waters Forest, Field and Marsh Loops
The Place: Warriors’ Path State Park, Kingsport
The Sinking Waters Trails are three lollipop trails in a row. Sinking Waters Forest Loop (0.85 miles) is connected by a short “stick” of trail to the Sinking Waters Field Loop (0.8 miles), which is connected to a third “stick” of trail to Sinking Waters Marsh Loop (0.4 miles).
My first experience with this trail was a night hike led by Ranger Marty Silver during Summer 2018. The hike took us a back way into the loop, so much of the trail was boardwalked. (This is the march loop area.) Normally you enter the trail from a parking lot off Cedar Branch Road.
I was excited to get back on a trail after the food-filled holidays. The first Sunday of January promised to be warm (it was) and I wouldn’t have to worry about a rain jacket.
The Sinking Waters trailhead is back behind a neighborhood on the other side of the South Fork Holston River. It’s tranquil, secluded and not heavily trafficked. That’s obvious by the number of spots that rangers have had to paint over whatever vandals left behind.
After getting the parking lot gate opened, I tied up my boots and set off.
This hike is relatively easy. As you enter the forest loop, you may want to head to the right. It’s a bit steep up the ridge, but coming down the other side are steep stairs. I’d rather go down those stairs, please and thanks.
Winter is prime time for hiking the ridge. The trees may be many, but the leaves are few and you can see much farther.
The next section is labelled field, but there’s not much of it left. As you prepare to enter the loop, there’s a lovely little bench to stop and sit and sip your water. From there, I headed toward the left, which took me by the creek.
This area is mostly flat trail, which is nice. The sound of the water is also relaxing. A sign marks that the family which used to live there had a blacksmithing shop.
The final section of the trail is marsh. This area includes a boardwalk for obvious reasons. The area is full of water and sinkholes. In fact, the creek disappears through one of these sinkholes to an underground cave, giving this trail its “Sinking Waters” name.
It’s here where you can see evidence of vandals. They have tagged several signs and even the floor of the boardwalk. (If you see signs of vandalism, you should report it to the park office.)
The vandalism didn’t ruin the view though. I moved up here from Louisiana, and one of the things I miss about down there is exploring the marshes, bayous and swamps. It’s nice to stop and listen to the breeze through the trees and breathe in the smell of wet earth.
From this loop, it’s a walk back up through the other side of the meadow and the forest sections. Again, it’s a very easy hike and a good one for winter.