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Visit Pickett State Park, Tennessee for a Weekend Getaway

Stacie L has lived and traveled in many states so she likes to share her experiences with her readers.

Pickett State Park, Tennessee

Pickett State Park, Tennessee

Walk Among the Beauty

I often hike and photograph nature on weekends with friends in Kentucky and Tennessee. Pickett State Park has become one of my favorite places to visit. As a matter of fact, I have been there several times during each year and never tire of it. The lush, green foliage along with natural stone and leafy trails are a treat for those who need to get away from the cities and crowds.

It is located in the north-central region of Tennessee, just east of Highway 127 or west of Highway 27, next to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. The location is isolated, so if you really crave a taco or fast foods and snacks, you'll have to bring them or travel several miles to reach the closest towns of Jamestown and Allardt.

Walk across the swinging bridge to the island trail in Pickett State Park.

Walk across the swinging bridge to the island trail in Pickett State Park.

Hiking in the snow under Natural Bridge in Pickett State Park.

Hiking in the snow under Natural Bridge in Pickett State Park.

Hiking Trails

The park has many easy to moderate trails to choose from. There are said to be some 58 miles of trails throughout the park. The first one I ever hiked was the one on the island. One has to cross a swinging bridge from the main parking lot near the recreation facility. I remember feeling a little queasy the first time crossing it. Be prepared to hold on, especially if others are crossing too!

Another good trail is the one leading to the natural bridge. It is very large and I have walked on top of it and was sheltered from the weather beneath it. Hikers can access this trail by the Highway 154 parking area and then by stepping down to the rock arch.

The third interesting trail leads to Indian Rock House and Hazard Cave. They are a little past the cave steps entrance and on opposite sides of the highway. These structures are massive rock formations, so you'll feel quite small standing under them. I like to photograph the different colors in the rock walls and trees growing out of the boulders. The cave is deep with stone benches to rest on.

A ladder allows you to climb down into the stream.

A ladder allows you to climb down into the stream.

The Ladder Trail

The Ladder Trail is a fun, moderately rated hike that takes visitors along a narrow ridge off the main road and down a wooden ladder into the creek. When first visiting, I didn't do this one all the way due to the colder season.

Eventually, I did go back and finish the ladder trail. There actually are two ladders that allow you to climb into and out of the shallow creek. After climbing down the first ladder, one must either walk a short way through the creek if there was heavy rainfall or along the bank. I recommend coming on a warm day as it will keep you cool.

The arch over Pickett Lake

The arch over Pickett Lake

The Lake and Archway

As a nature photographer, I love to capture different aspects of a natural setting. The lake is no exception.

The main body of water in the park is Pickett Lake. It is a beautiful blue-green color most of the year. It's thought that the limestone gives the water its beautiful hues.

Another appealing feature is the archway the water flows under. It is unknown if it was a natural phenomenon or a result of the past when active coal mining and logging operations were still in business.

I have walked under the archway in the winter when the water was sometimes drained. It's both an eerie sight and feeling walking beneath it. There are different layers and colors and one can see how geology has changed over many years.

 Walking on a frozen Pickett Lake on a 60 degree day.

Walking on a frozen Pickett Lake on a 60 degree day.

Frozen Lake on a Warm Day

One Sunday afternoon in February 2014, the lake was frozen solid. Many visitors began taking photos of themselves standing on it. The funny thing about the day was that the temperature shot up to 60 degrees! We walked around in t-shirts, sweating while climbing up on the ridge tops, but still shivered a bit along icy trails in the ravines.

Here's a photo of a local visitor standing on it. I wasn't as brave and felt safer snapping the image.

Rowing under the arch of Pickett Lake

Rowing under the arch of Pickett Lake

Rowing in a canoe under the arch is an experience one has to try. There are shelters and arches along the lake and around the island as well. When warm weather arrives, boats can be rented so visitors may row around the island and near the dam. The scenery is spectacular!

The Thompson Creek continues on both sides of the lake and many trails have bridges over or rocks hikers must carefully navigate to reach the other side. Don't worry, I have slipped into the creek a few times myself!

Fire Pink

Fire Pink

Showy Orchids

Flora and Fauna

The park is mostly wild and untouched so you'll see some little beauties along the ground. Bladderwort, yellow daisies, Fire Pink, Blue-Eyed Mary, Blue Phlox, and Birdfoot Violet are just a few. Larger abundant shrubbery includes rhododendrons with their large white and pink blooms and mountain laurels along the edge of the island.

The largest plants are the tall pine trees and nut-bearing oak trees. I love the pine trees most as they stay green all year and provide much needed shade in the hot summer.

Animals abound in the woods but they are fast and hard to capture with the lens.

I have seen rabbits, birds, squirrels and deer. I have heard a bear once and that suited me just fine.

Stone cabins at Pickett State Park TN

Stone cabins at Pickett State Park TN

Extended Stay

If you wish to take more time to see the park, I suggest you reserve a campsite or a stone cabin. Either is very affordable and will make your visit more pleasant. The park is still in a very natural state, with little paving or cement walkways. As I mentioned before, bring your own food or you'll have to drive to Jamestown and Allartd for meals and shopping. Be sure to take your camera along with your hikes. You'll see sites that you may never see again.

This is just a brief description of one of my favorite parks in Tennessee. It is a day trip for me so I feel fortunate to be able to visit it often.

Pickett State Park Trails Map

Pickett State Park Trails Map

Visiting Pickett State Park,TN

© 2014 Stacie L