Event Information
Beginner Backpacking: Virgin Falls
Virgin Falls State Natrual Area
Saturday, Dec 16, 2017 9:00 AM - Sunday, Dec 17, 2017 5:00 PM
Join Team Green Adventures on an 10-mile out-and-back Beginner Backpacking trip through the Virgin Falls State Natural Area.

Cost: FREE event for Team Green members!
This event is limited to 14 participants
Ticket Selection
Your Adventure Starts Here!


Come journey through the scenic beauty of one of Tennessee's most beloved hiking trails at Virgin Falls State Natural Area, this time as a Beginner Backpacking trip! We will take an easy 5-miles to our campsite (downhill), then hike a more strenuous 5 miles the next day back to our cars (uphill). The good news? We have most of the day to do it!

When: December 16th - 17th at 7:00am (Carpool) or 9:00am (Trailhead)
Where: Virgin Falls State Natural Area
Sparta, TN
Cost: FREE for Members and $5 for Non-Members

Trip Leader: Michelle Guess & Carl Hoagey

Difficulty: This is Beginner Backpacking (see rating scale below). It's considered a strenuous trail for a day hike, with creek crossings (water levels vary) and some strenuous parts, so proper trail shoes must be worn, and hiking poles are recommended. Hikers in good physical condition with experience hiking at least 8 miles or more on wooded trail are welcome. There is significant elevation gain and loss on this trail.
Registration Deadline: Registration closes on Wednesday, December 13th at 3pm.
Group Size Limit: This trip is limited to 12 participants & 2 Trip Leaders

Parking: Parking is available for free near the trailhead.


Children Policy: This is a 13 and up event with parental participation. Children 18 and under must be accompanied by an adult and have prior experience hiking strenuous terrain and longer distances
Dog Policy: Friendly dogs on leashes who have prior experience hiking 8+ miles are permitted
Weather Policy: This trip is drizzle or shine. In the event of severe weather, this trip may be postponed. Participants will be notified of any changes due to weather the week leading up to the event by their trip leader.
Cancellation Policy: If you register and can no longer make it, please email TeamGreen@Lightning100.com so your spot can be opened to another participant.


Drive time to trailhead from Nashville: About 2 hours with no time zone change
Hike Distance: Approx. 5 miles per day
Hike Elevation Gain: Approx. 700 Feet
Estimated Hike Time: Approx. 4 hours per day

This trail descends off of the plateau and meanders along the creek passing caves, sinks, and waterfalls. We will have lunch at the falls, which is remarkable due to the water pouring out of the cave mouth at the top of the bluff and then falling over one-hundred feet before being swallowed up by a sinkhole at the bottom. The trail then backtracks up and out of the Gulf to the parking area. This trip is notably one of Team Green's most popular hikes!

6:30AM (CST): Arrive at carpool site to arrange carpools and assess packs (information in confirmation email)
7:00 AM: Leave Nashville (directions available upon registration)
9:00AM: Arrive at trailhead and begin hike
1:00PM: Arrive at campsite, lunch, set up camp, wander around
4:00PM: Campfire, hang out!

8:00-9:00AM: Wake up, take down camp, breakfast
9:00AM-1:00PM: Hike back to vehicles - Stop for a post trip celebratory meal!
3:00PM (CST): Arrive in Nashville 

Please check out the Backpacking Checklist available on the Resources Page. We also encourage participants to attend our Intro to Backpacking Gear Workshop with Cumberland Transit (date tbd).

Team Green practices Leave No Trace guidelines. Follow this link to see what you can do to keep our trails clean and safe.


What is the difference between day hiking, car camping, backcountry camping, and backpacking?

  • Day Hiking is when a hiker takes a day trip on a trail of any length. A day hiker's backpack is relatively light weight consisting of extra clothing layers, a meal or two, hydration, and a first aid kit.
  • Car Camping is when your vehicle is parked within only a few feet from your tent. This means you can overpack and keep extra gear stashed in your vehicle. Car Camping sites often have restrooms, running water and electricity nearby.
  • Backcountry Camping is when your vehicle is far enough away from your campsite that you cannot make easy trips out to your car (one half mile or more). A backcountry camper will need a backpacking pack to carry all camping gear, food, clothing, and hydration for the duration of the time. A backcountry camper will set up camp and explore the nearby area, always returning to the same site in the evening.
  • Backpacking is a linear trip. The purpose of backpacking is to get from point A to point B in a set period of time. Camping is just a means to the end, not the highlight of the trip. With backpacking, the hike (landscape) itself and the challenge of accomplishing the hike with bare needs is the pinacle of the trip. A backpackers pack weights roughly 20% of the hikers body weight.

Beginner Backpack: You have prior experience with day hiking more than 8 miles continuously on moderate terrain (Warner Parks, etc), but may have never backpacked before. You would like the added challenge of carrying more weight and camping overnight on the trail. These trips include shorter distances (6-8 miles per day) but moderate to strenuous terrain. You must attend a backpacking clinic.

Intermediate Backpack: You have prior experience with backpacking 5-8 miles per day, know your abilities, have adequate equipment, and would like the added challenge of a longer backpacking trip. These trips include moderate distances (7-10 miles per day) on mostly strenuous terrain. These are often one or two night backpacking trips. It is recommended that you attend a refresher backpacking clinic.

Expert Backpack: You have prior experience with backpacking 11 miles or more per day in unpleasant conditions (snow, rain, ice, wind), know your abilities, have adequate equipment, and would like the added challenge of a longer, more strenuous backpacking trip. These trips include long distances (11-14+ miles per day) on strenuous terrain (Appalachian Mountains, etc). These trips may last for three or more nights. It is recommended that you attend a refresher backpacking clinic.


This scenic 4-mile, one-way trail offers breathtaking landscapes, deep woods and a unique combination of caves and waterfalls. During dry periods, the caves can be explored. In wet periods the cascades are dramatic. In winter, the spray at Virgin Falls creates an icy wonderland. This route descends the plateau, crossing numerous creeks and goes next to many beautiful waterfalls. There are a few caves here (Sheep Cave, Big Laurel Falls Cave, VF Cave) that are worth visiting if you have time. Also, the overlook (Martha's Pretty Point) is well worth the deviation.


Registration is required for this event, if you have any questions please e-mail teamgreen@lightning100.com!