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Getaway to Pickett State Park, TN for the Weekend
Pickett State Park TN
Swinging Bridge over Pickett Lake
Walk among 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 leaf trails is 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 12 or more miles to the two closest towns of Jamestown and Allardt.
A pdf trail map can be seen here and printed out.
Natural Bridge in Winter snow
The park has many easy to moderate trails to choose from. It's said to be 58 miles of trails throughout the park. The first one I ever hiked was the one on the Island. One must 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 highway 154 parking area and then 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 boulders. The cave is deep with stone benches to rest on.
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. I didn't do this one all the way due to the colder season but will try next summer.
Update: I did go back and finished the ladder trail. There actually are two ladders 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 on the bank. I recommend coming on a warm day; it will keep you cool.
Indian Rock House
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 the 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 that water flows under. It is unknown if it was a natural phenomenon or a result of the past, when an active coal mining and logging operation were in business.
I have walked under the archway in the winter when sometimes the water has been drained. It's an eerie sight and feeling walking beneath it. There are different layers and colors and one can see how the geology has changed for many years.
Walking on Frozen Pickett Lake TN
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 tee shirts, sweating while climbing up on the ridge tops, then shivered along icy trails in the ravines.
Here's a photo of a local visitor standing on it. I wasn't a brave and felt safer snapping the image.
Rowing Under the Arch
Rowing in a canoe under the arch is an experience one has to try. There are shelters and arches along the lake 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 it or rocks that a hiker must carefully step on to the other side. I have slipped into the creek a few times myself.
Flora and Fauna
The park is mostly in a wild, untouched stated so you'll see some little beauties along the ground such as Bladderwort, yellow Daisies, Fire Pink, Blue Eyed Mary, Blue Phlox, and Birdfoot Violet, to name a few. The larger abundant shrubbery are Rhododendrons with their large white and pink blooms, and mountain laurels along the islands edge.
The largest plants are the tall pine trees, and many nut bearing and oak trees. I love the pine trees best, as they stay green all year and provide 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.
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 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.
So this is 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
- Obsessed with Nature Photoblog: A Lesiurely Afternoon Boat Ride on Pickett Lake
A photoblog about my photo hikes into the parks to capture the beauty of Mother Nature.
Visiting Pickett State Park,TN
Have you visited Pickett State Park more than once
© 2014 Stacie L