8th Anniversary & Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Last week we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary and spent a long weekend completely isolated from the outside world- hidden away in a cozy cottage in the small town of Sewanee, Tennessee. Sewanee’s quaint shops and small town charm reminded me of another small town, Stars Hollow! :) (From Gilmore Girls) And even though we had *zero* cell reception the entire time we were there, it was so nice to be unplugged for a few days… I didn’t want to leave and I’m ready to go back! :)

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Day 1… We arrived early Saturday morning and our gracious hosts at the Red Oak Hollow Cottage allowed us to check in early so we could enjoy a full day in the beautiful mountain town. When we arrived there was a sweet note on the whiteboard that read “Welcome Kevin, Amanda, Miley & Howie to Red Oak Hollow!” We found freshly baked brownies, two chilled bottled waters & two Snickers bars waiting in the cottage for us- and Miley and Howie found a big, fresh doggie bowl of water & Pupperoni treats waiting for them. :) Talk about being pampered! :) The cottage was spacious and gorgeous, with a full kitchen, fenced-in backyard, and lush gardens all around. We had fresh sweet basil, peppery arugula, spearmint, cilantro, and so much more growing right outside the back door.

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Our first stop after we settled in was the Natural Bridge. This was a fun little stop; Miley and Howie got such a kick out of running back and forth across the bridge- although Miley wouldn’t get too close to the edge!

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Our next stop was the Buggytop Cave Trail. This was a nice little hike with plenty of rocks. Miley and Howie wait patiently for us to catch up! ;)

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Buggytop Cave has a huge opening with a creek, waterfalls and cascades flowing out of the entrance. We didn’t go too far in the cave,  but you can follow the water and hike all the way through the cave and come out the other side if you want. We walked down a bit following the creek flowing out of the cave. The cascades were gorgeous!

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Definitely the perfect spot to sit and have a picnic… courtesy of my super cool new skull lunch sack! :D

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

On Sunday our first stop was Foster Falls. This was a really fun trail, complete with a swinging bridge over the creek. :)

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

The path down was basically just a ton of rocks that formed natural stairs all the way down to the base of the falls.

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Our next stop was the Stone Door trail, a giant passageway 10 feet wide and 100 feet deep, with natural rock stairs leading from the top of the cliffs above to the gorges below. This was beautiful hike with some of the most spectacular overlooks in the entire state.

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Howie was apparently not too impressed with the overlooks? ;)

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Just a few miles down the road was Greeter Falls. I loved this fall!!! It was an easy hike and had trails to the upper and lower falls.

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

The upper falls were my favorite- the area was flat and open. You could walk right up to the falls and stand underneath them- or right up to the edge of of the lower falls and  look over the dangerously high cliff as the water splashed into the plunge pool below.

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

The lower falls were pretty cool too, with a neat little swimming hole right underneath the falls. :) Although it was definitely a bit of a challenge to get to! :) We had to carry Miley and Howie down that rickety spiral staircase! :O

Sunday was a long day of hiking- 6.9 miles total!

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Monday was a sweet, special day… Our 8th Anniversary. It’s been 8 wonderful years. Here’s hoping for 68 more! :)

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

We spent the day at the quintessential southern swimming hole, Rutledge Falls.

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

You could walk right up to the falls, dive in, swim under the falls, and climb all over them.

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Sitting on top of the falls… :)

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Miley and Howie got a huge kick out of running all around the waterfalls. Later we packed a picnic lunch and took them downstream where they could run, play in the creek, and chase sticks. All with this in the background… :)

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Tuesday was our last day in Tennessee. I was so not ready to leave! :) Our hosts at the cottage told us to take our time checking out- we squeezed in one final 4-mile hike. :)

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

The map at the trailhead described the Fiery Gizzard trail as one of the most beautiful and diverse trails in Tennessee… and one of those difficult and rugged! :)

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

But with the gorgeous scenery following the Fiery Gizzard creek, it was probably one of our favorites. Definitely a beautiful hike! Blue Hole Falls & Black Canyon pictured above.

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

Before heading back home we had to make one more stop… :) In our short trip, this ice cream cafe (with free WiFi) quickly became our favorite hangout! :)

Southern Travel | Tennessee Mountain Hideaway

If you are ever near exit 134 on Interstate 24 in Sewanee/Monteagle, TN, you have to stop here and get a waffle cone. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream was my favorite of course, but the waffle cone.. Oh my.. Made fresh daily, they are so sweet, buttery, and flaky. I could live to eat these waffles cones. Wishing I had one right now! Definitely going on my “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” list! :)

Planning your own southern escape?? :)

Where to Stay:

Red Oak Hollow – A gorgeous, 30-acre private estate. Two distinct accommodations. Guest Suite Sleeps two, cottage sleeps four. Rates starting at $100 a night. Cottage is Pet-Friendly, although it was so clean I couldn’t tell any pets had ever stayed there before!

Where to Go:

Natural Bridge & Buggytop Cave – Easy afternoon side quest. After checking out Natural Bridge, head 3.5 miles south down Hwy 56. You will see a small pull-off on the right where about 4-5 cars could park. Park here, cross the street and walk down the hill a few steps. You will see the trail on your left, follow it less than 1/4 mile to the trail head and map. Click here for the Google Map of where to park. About 3.5 miles of hiking, plan for about 3 hours for Natural Bridge & Buggytop.

Foster Falls, Stone Door, Greeter Falls – Day trip. First check out Foster Falls. Gorgeous 1/2 mile trail. Head back to Tracy city and grab some pastries (like the Whisky cake) from The Dutch Maid Bakery. Then head for Stone Door. Easy trail, breathtaking overlooks. On your way back from Stone Door, walk behind the Ranger’s station and check out the short loop trail to Laurel Falls. Then head back south to Greeter Falls. (You probably passed the sign on your way to Stone Door.) Definitely check out both upper and lower Greeter Falls. Optional side quests are Blue Hole Trail and Boardtree Falls. If you do ’em all, like we did, it’s a little under 7 miles total hiking for the day! :) More Info.

Rutledge Falls – Gorgeous, picturesque falls. Bring a picnic lunch, towels, drinks, and water shoes. And a bathing suit, if you’re so inclined… ;)

Fiery Gizzard Trail – Beautiful and rugged trail. Follows the Fiery Gizzard creek. Lots of fun bridges and rocks to cross. Pick up a map at the trail head for points of interest to keep an eye out for, like the 500-year-old hemlock tree, cave springs, waterfalls, and house-sized pillars & rock formations. Length of trip is optional- we walked 2 miles down to the “Fruit Bowl” and turned around. At least go 1 mile in to the Black Canyon- definitely the coolest part. :)

Where to Eat:

Lorena’s Gifts – Sleep in and grab a late brunch here. Breakfast is served all day. Their omelet and waffles are to die for. Come back and try their lunch menu another day!

Mountain Breeze Cafe – Craving an afternoon sweet snack after a long day of hiking? Stop in for a delicious waffle cone! :) Ready for dinner? Definitely try the pizza- seriously so good! :)

Papa Ron’s Italian Steakhouse – Steak, Pasta & Seafood. Huge menu and everything on it sounds delicious. It’s a good thing we discovered this place on our last day or I would’ve eaten there every day! It’s only an hour and a half away from my house…. I would seriously consider driving there just for dinner one night! :)

Check out this interactive map from Google listing the addresses and directions to all the must-see places mentioned above. Put this in your GPS and you’re ready for your own Tennessee mountain vacation. :)

View { Southern Escapes } Tennessee Mountain Hideaway Vacation in a larger map

P.S. Like the handwriting font I used up there? :) It’s Pea Kar Kar… Look for it on the next font update! ;)

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78 Responses
  1. Andrea J.

    I have just found this post! I live near Chattanooga, TN and I am always looking for new places to explore and this is not far! Love your photos! I will have to check this area out.

  2. Delia Garrett

    Thanks for sharing the photos. My son attends University of the South in Sewanee. Beautiful campus. He mentioned his geology class took a “field trip” to the natural bridge recently. I cant wait to go up for a visit and check out some of these places nearby that you posted. Again, it is such a peaceful setting on top of the Cumberland Plateau.

  3. Sarah

    Beautiful! We got married (also in May) at Rutledge Falls where you celebrated your anniversary. We couldn’t have asked for a more naturally beautiful backdrop to the best day of our lives.

  4. Trish Taft

    It is a beautiful place, my aunt and Uncle live on the mountain just outside of Mounteagle. Papa Ron’s is a great place to eat, my one place I have to go while were visiting from Iowa.

  5. Sarah

    I’m not sure how I found your website, but I have just booked a weekend in the Sewanee Area (the cute place you stayed thinks my pup is too big to come, so we had to go somewhere else), and plan on doing a lot of those hikes. Thanks!

  6. Zissy

    Loved your pics and shared a couple on my page. :) Hugs and thank you so much for sharing they are gorgeous.

    ps: love the pups. ;)

  7. Jacqui Gliick

    hi amanda:-) my husband is from america and lives in australia with me!! anyway we are coming back for vacation this october and going to be doing a massive road trip around america visiting family and sightseeing while we are at it:-) i showed my husband this little trip you guys did and we love it so we are staying at red oak hollow for 3 nights aswell and will be doing the same vacation as you and kevin did for your anniversary, lol. i’m so excited and can’t wait, we’ll be driving from florida through to texas and across to memphis and tennesse and then onto new jersey, haha!! alot of driving and sightseeing!! anyway thanks for posting this and letting us all know your accommodation and hiking details:-) i’ll be sure to keep you posted later in the year xo

  8. carmen

    Congrats on 8 yrs and many more. So glad you enjoyed your visit to our lovely state. I am about 40 min from Monteagle mountain and we LOVE hiking all the trails. So many waterfalls, so little time! TN has approx 617 waterfalls, most starting from Monteagle and heading east. You should have checked out Machine Falls which is just up from Rutledge about 2 miles. Great falls/hike! Also Old Fort Archaeological Park in Manchester. But when you have limited time, you can only do so much. Must make another trip back!

  9. Heather K.

    My husband and I were planning to head to Chattanooga sometime this fall, but now I think I’d rather go here. And that’s awesome that they are pet friendly! I wonder if there is a size limit…We have two boxers that we like to take with us when possible, but a lot of places won’t allow such large dogs.

    1. Sarah

      Heather, I just tried to book a stay and my lab is too big. I think she said the max size is 40 lbs. But it looks like such a great place to bring your pup, we opted to stay in Monteagle so he could come.

  10. Ashley

    What kind of camera do you have? Your waterfall images are beautiful…did you edit those or what settings did you use on your camera for those? I am very curious as I love photography but my SLR has waaay more functions/settings on it then I know how to use, ha.

  11. Marilyn C.


    Thanks so much for showing your pictures from your trip. I live in Tennessee and I think it is truly a beautiful place. I actually live in the Memphis area but love traveling to East TN too. Thanks for always sharing pics of Miley and Howie. They are adorable. Our mixed Jack Russell/rat terrier would love to run and play with Miley and Howie. Congrats on your 8th anniversary!!!

    Marilyn C.

  12. Lesa Antone

    Hi there! LOVE your stuff!! Lindsay @ HappyHouseWifeDesigns just created a new blogger page for me and we used some of your stuff. Wanted to stop by and say thank you…then I got “stuck” here looking at all the other great stuff on your site!!
    I also wanted to let you know that I added your fonts button to my “Blogs I Follow” page. Hopefully you’ll get a few visitors from it!!

    Would love for you to check out my new page at:

    It’s a work-in-progess as I just started blogging 3 weeks ago, but am having a blast!

    Hope to see you around the web!


  13. Amanda Sevall

    Looks like you had a blast!! And I HAVE to know…. where on EARTH and HOW did you get that adorable little boston icon?! I was on someone’s blog and instead of the little blogger orange box, there was the cutest thing I’ve seen in quite a while!! I’d love to know where you happened to come by that!! :)

  14. Becky

    Wow….wonderful pics as always. You are one talented gal. Congrats on your 8th anniversary. You and Kevin should go to the Biltmore Estates in North Carolina. My hubby and I loved it and came out with such wonderful pics. You can check out their info on

  15. KatieInOz

    Hey Amanda, congrats to you and hubby on 8 years. Good stuff!

    Do you have any tips on how you achieve that blurred waterfall effect in your wonderful photos? I have just purchased a Canon 450D and can’t make heads nor tails of the settings… :(

  16. Mandy

    OMGoodness! I was so busy moving from Zurich to Helsinki (stopping over in Cary, NC) last month that I didn’t get to read your blog one time – BOY DID I MISS OUT! What an amazing month you had! Congratulations to you and to the lucky winner Jenny – loved loved loved all the LA posts! And you looked so darn cute! I would have had to work out for a week straight after all that eating:) Anyway, loved this post too -I will have to tell my family – this sounds like a perfect place for all of us to get together!

  17. Rachel Arndt

    Love love love your blog and photo’s. They are fab and peeeerrty! I found you in the blog guidebook:) Such a useful site!

  18. Audra

    WOW. What a great set of memories. I love your updates – thanks for sharing them with us. I wonder how far this is from Atlanta?! I’d love to go and do all that hiking! I will have to check it out. :)

  19. Claudia

    What a gorgeous, informative post. Happy Anniversary and may there be more that 68 more in your future! You do it in style. I actually stopped by to say I saw your spice rub and brine for pulled pork on Jen from NJ’s blog – she credited you – and I thought – world’s colliding! Going to try it this week.

  20. allisonp

    I just love the Mountain Breeze Cafe! We go to Monteagle every year for my husband’s annual band camp. We had just had a baby in April, and Mommy and Baby Logan were looking for somewhere to hang out while Daddy was working. We found that *sweet* little hideout twice on our trip! Love the pics! We travel vicariously through you guys, so keep the great posts coming ;-)

  21. Melissa V.

    I would love to know what kind of camera bag you tote around. It seems I am never happy with mine and am on a never ending search for the perfect one.

  22. Ruth

    WOW-beautiful pictures and great information. Thanks so much for sharing. My husband and I are deciding where to take our summer vacation and I think we just found it!!! Thanks so much and have a great day!!

  23. Megan {Shabby Blogs}

    I love how you are always up to something fun, Amanda. Congratulations on your anniversary!

    …And I just noticed your favicon and it totally made my day. :)

  24. Trisha Rutledge

    Love the pics. Especially Rutledge Falls. I am partial though, since it’s my last name! Thanks for sharing :)

  25. Alicia

    Happy Anniversary! I live in Middle Tennessee just East of Nashville. Sewanee is one of those places that I have on my list of local places I want to visit….even more now that I’ve seen your pictures.

  26. Jennifer

    Happy anniversary! I’m so glad you enjoyed Sewanee. I live in TN about two hours from Sewanee and we love to take long weekends in Sewanee, Chattanooga, and the beautiful surrounding area.

  27. Kathy

    Wonderful photos of the waterfall and I love the pink and blue shirts (both for the humans and the doggies). Looks like a great spot. Also I throughly enjoyed your LA photos and food trail….what a wonderful tour you had. Thanks for sharing. Kathy, Australia

  28. Denise


    1. Mesha

      When we searched for land, it took us about 8 years, of yearly trips to different parts of the states, we were happy to discover TN.
      Two things to consider…..okay, three things.
      1. Rural is rural and maybe you just might need a little culture.
      (Sewanee is perfect and perhaps I need to keep that more of a secret).
      2. Property taxes will be a big concern as your grow older. TN has
      very low property taxes, I heard VA is pretty high.
      3. Tn has no income tax, so does 7 other states. In time, this does make a difference.

      Visit TN… will love it here!

  29. Emily


    I really loved this post – I think it’s great how you give the where to stay, what to eat etc. lists. Very helpful. Do Miley and Howie stay close by you at all times? I see that they’re off leash a lot, I’m too much of a nervous worry-wart to do that with Brady. Any tips for that?

  30. Nathalie Manus

    Congrats on your 8 years… This year is my hubby and I 10 year and what a great place to go. We live in North Georgia and this is a quick 2 1/2 hour drive. Thanks for the post… Can’t wait to go. Oh and I love your dog’s. Hubby was just saying he wanted one of those dogs.

  31. Becca @ One Girl

    Looks like you had a wonderful time! And I love the font, especially with the brackets. I love reading trip recaps! Congrats on 8 years together :)

  32. Lori

    I live in TN! I have never heard of Sewanee!! Although, it looks like I’m not very far away! I’m just on the other side of Chattanooga. We have been hiking a lot this Spring and I’m always looking for new places to go. I’ve heard of Fiery Gizzard but not the other trails. I can’t wait to check them out! The pictures are beautiful!! We might have to plan a weekend getaway for this Fall. Thanks for sharing all the info.

  33. beth

    Congratulations!! Love, love, love the pictures and it sounded soo fun!! It cracks me up that you take your 2 dogs with you :) It is really sweet though…Thanks for sharing!

  34. Marilyn

    I thought I had seen on your site one time what setting you use on your camera to take pictures of waterfalls and I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Do you mind telling me how you take those? I’m going west in two weeks and one hike I plan to go on has a magnificent waterfall and I would love to be able to get some good pics of it! I just purchased a Canon Rebel xs last week and am still trying to learn the ropes. =)

    1. Marilyn

      Thanks! I knew I had seen that page before but just wasn’t sure where I had seen it and couldn’t find it. Thanks a lot!

  35. Julie

    Happy Anniversary! Looks like a fun trip. I found your blog a couple of summers ago after googling “southern waterfalls.” We live outside of Atlanta and have explored many of the falls in North Georgia and a few in N. Carolina. I have saved this map in my google maps as a “go to destination.” Oh and…WAR EAGLE!!

  36. Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic

    Congratulations on 8 Years and many more!!!!

    This place looks amazing. I am so, so happy I found your blog so that I not only could read about all your great adventures but find all these hidden gems close to home! It truly is a beautiful place I might have to talk the boyfriend into a weekend trip such as this. Thank you for ALL the information as well!

  37. Tammy

    Congratulations on your anniversary! I actually live in Middle Tennessee very near where y’all were vacationing! It really is a beautiful area. My son went camping and hiking in Sewannee a little over a week ago. It is an area I have visited a lot. Did you get a chance to drive through the campus of The University of The South? It is an absolutely stunning campus.

  38. edy B

    Wish I was there! It’s hot and dry here in NM! All that water looks wonderful … I miss all the water around Northern AL and TN where I grew up.
    We’ll keep that little town on our vacation wish list ~ a beautiful spot to relax!
    Love the photos especially of your little dogs. They always seem to really enjoy your outings.

  39. Lisa S.

    wow you guys just go to the most beautiful places…if ever i need to find somewhere to go I’ll always come back to your blog! lol
    Gorgeous photos thanks so much for sharing and Happy Anniversary and many more to you:)

  40. Lisa

    Happy Anniversary to you two! What an amazing place. How nice to be unplugged from the rest of the world!!!

    Love the waterfall photos. I just got a new d90 and am wanting to go on a nature hike in the Columbia Gorge and put it to good use. Did you use a tripod on your waterfall pictures? Do you remember your camera settings?

    Good stuff once again, Amanda!!

  41. June

    Absolutely gorgeous!!!! This is our kind of trip!! We will definitely have to go hiking in Tennessee, usually go to different parts of NC and usually in the fall!!! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful trip, gorgeous photos and CONGRATS on 8 years and wishing you many more!!!!!

  42. Mesha

    Amanda and Kevin,
    What a beautiful blog. You certainly have out blogged me.
    I would love to put a link to your blog, if that is all right with you.

    Your photos are amazing and the “kids” have star quality.

    Thanks for all the kind words and thanks very much for letting your
    world know about our world.

    Come back for the fall colors!

    Mesha and Tim
    Red Oak Hollow
    “Your Sewanee Home away from Home”

  43. Elizabeth

    Looks like a great get away place. Thank you for the suggestion and all the information. Love that will accept pets.

  44. Demetria

    Those falls were sooo pretty! THanks for all the information on the trip and sharing the lovely photos!

    Have a great day!

  45. Jenny Flake

    WOW! I need to plan a trip to visit you so I can see all of these beautiful places! LOVE all of your photos, looks like you guys had an amazing anniversary!!

  46. Telah

    Amanda, if you ever go back to that area, you need to travel down the road a bit to Cowan, TN. There is a quaint little place to eat called Sernicola’s. Italian food that is out of this world. There is also a bed and breakfast owned by the same folks called the Franklin-Pearson House. Wonderful place to stay and Jared, the owner, is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet!

  47. Marilyn

    Congrats on 8 years together! I love the pictures, esp. the waterfall ones. This is a place I could go to since I live in the deep south and it would be a great weekend trip. Thanks for the tour!

  48. Valerie

    Amanda and Kevin: Congratulations on your 8th Anniversary. I enjoyed your narrative and photos. It seems you had a wonderful time. I hope that one day I can take a falls picture with that milky look. I will keep trying. Valerie

  49. Alisha

    Oh Stars Hollow! Don’t you wish it really existed!? I’m so glad you found something super close :) And what a fun Anniversary trip! Congrats to you two newlyweds ;-). We’re still trying to plan our trip for our 1st Anniversary and it’s in only one month! Ooops! :)

  50. CHERIE

    What type cameras do you all use?? I am looking for one that will shoot my sons baseball and basketball games so a good zoom??

  51. Tina

    What a beautiful trip! I’m taking notes for a future vacation with my family. My boys would love all those waterfalls! Congratulations on 8 years – that’s something these days!

  52. Debi

    Amanda, thank you so much for sharing these pictures. This area is really beautiful. I’d like to go there sometime; thanks for telling us how to find it!

  53. Abri @ Absolutely Ridiculous

    Looks like y’all had a great trip! Congrats on 8 years :-)

    Your photos are beautiful… I love all the shots of the dogs!! And I love the waterfalls too… so pretty!

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Meet Kevin & Amanda

Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.


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