Saturday, September 30, 2023 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM EDT
Add to Calendar 


Buggy Top Trailhead 



Hike Manager 
Wild Ones - Tennessee Valley Chapter 

Wild Ones Members Only Hike
Buggy Top Trail to Lost Cove Cave with Mabry Biggs

Hike Details: Our hike leader, Mabry Biggs, is a nature interpreter and conservationist based out of Franklin, TN. She earned her degree in wildlife biology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is a certified Interpretive Guide. She has been working as an Interpretive Ranger at Cove Lake State Park near Knoxville, and Harrison Bay State Park in Chattanooga. She has volunteered with  Happinest Wildlife Rehabilitation and earned her Tennessee Naturalist certificate. She enjoys hiking and identifying new plants, both on the trail and with iNaturalist.

Join Wild Ones members on an outing along Buggy top trail through the Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lee Carter Class II Natural-Scientific State Natural Area to Lost Cove cave. Managed by South Cumberland State Park, the natural area protects part of a large solution valley associated with the karst erosional processes characteristic of the Cumberland Plateau escarpment. A significant cave system extends from Lost Cove to the head of Crow Creek. Waters of Lost Creek and the stream systems draining into Lost Cove disappear into the Lost Cove Cave just north of here at the Big Sinks, and travel underground for over a mile, actively flowing through the cave and emerging out the main entry, “Buggy top” entrance, as Crow Creek. This impressive cave entrance is 100 feet wide and 80 feet high. “Peter Cave” and “Unknown entrance” are the 2 other main ways in or out. Self guided permits and ranger led cave hikes are available from May to September.  Considerable archeological artifacts of the Woodland and Mississippian period excavated from the entrance are on display at the University of the South in Sewanee. 

The trail to the cave combines both limestone and sandstone regions, passing through considerable changes in associated plant life. There is an escarpment limestone glade above the cave.  This section has an abundance of little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), slender false foxglove (Agalinus tenuifolia), eared goldenrod (Solidago auriculata), Cumberland rosinweed (Silphium brachiatum), and starry rosinweed (S. asteriscus), scaly blazingstar (Liatris squarrosa), dense blazing star (L. spicata), sunflower (Helianthus hirsutis, H. divaricatus, H. microcephalus), rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium), False aloe (Agave virginica), and other grassland limestone associated species. Also upon and after our descent, we get to view several species of cliffside flora such as purple cliffbrake (Pellaea atropurpurea), Alabama lipfern (Myriopteris alabamensis),rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum), ashy hydrangea (Hydrangea cinerea), littleflower alumroot (Heuchera parviflora var. parviflora), bellflowers (Campanula divaricata and Campanulastrum americanum), whiteflower and Tennessee leafcup (Polymnia canadensis and P. laevigata) and many additional interesting species. 

As time allows, very nearby, the limestone roadside reveals many tansy rosinweed (Silphium pinnatifidum), Eggerts sunflower (Helianthus eggertii), additional stands of dense blazing star (L. spicata), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpura), and nearby Tennessee sites of Morefield's Leather Flower (Clematis morefieldii

Rating Moderate with just a few difficult spots. Note that when dry, it is much easier, but the limestone can get slick after rains, so watch the weather and prepare. Just before the cave, scrambling down holding rock or a large root is recommended. We can also get a peek into the cave’s twilight zone at the entrance, but deeper exploration is prohibited from September to May.

Start Time:  10:00 a.m. Eastern time/9:00 a.m. Central time 

Location:  At Lost Cove West gravel lot along Sherwood Rd.

Distance: 5 miles, out and back, spur trail along escarpment, approximately 3 to 4 hours total.

Additional Information:  Distancing precautions. Bring a lunch, plus snack and plenty of water, insect repellent, sunscreen, appropriate hiking footwear for rocky trail, headlamp or light source. No pets at any of our Wild Ones hikes please.

Limit:  15 participants

This program is free and open to Tennessee Valley Chapter Wild Ones members, including family.  Please make sure your membership is up to date.

Related helpful links:

Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lee Carter Class II Natural-Scientific State Natural Area

iNaturalist Buggy top and Sherwood