Old Stone Fort is a special type of Native American site, a hilltop ceremonial enclosure begun 2000 years ago and used at least through the fifth century. It has been called the most spectacularly sited sacred area of its period in the United States. Two rivers drop off of the Highland Rim and plunge dramatically to the Central Basin, where the forks of the Duck River create a promontory. During the Woodland prehistoric period, Mound Builders constructed a set of parallel mound walls on this narrow neck of land. These walls orient to within one degree of the sunrise on summer solstice. Ancient societies often recognized this sunrise as a time to celebrate and reenact creation myths.
Old Stone Fort, now nearly 900 acres, was dedicated on April 23,1966 by Governor Frank Clement. Although the park’s purpose is the preservation, protection, study and interpretation of an ancient culture, many visitors come to the park for fishing, boating, hiking, museum, picnicking and camping.
Good fishing is available along the scenic course of the Bark Camp and Barren forks of the Duck River, as well as the Duck River itself. Fishermen can expect catches of bream, crappie, large mouth bass and catfish. A valid TN fishing license is required.
The trail around the perimeter of the ancient, 2,000 year old enclosure is 1-1/4 miles in length and is a great way to learn about this historic area. It covers the most dramatic scenery in the park including several waterfalls. The three largest falls - Step Falls, Blue Hole Falls, and Big Falls - run along the trail. There are 2 miles of foot trails beyond the main interpretive trail.
There are 51 campsites with water and electrical hookups, grills, picnic tables and hard-surface pads that can accommodate a unit up to 50 feet in length. A dump station is open year around. One of the two restroom facilities includes showers, however that building is not open during the off-season, thus showers are not available at that time. Stay limit is two weeks.
Campsites should be reserved in advance by calling the park or you may make Old Stone Fort Campground Reservations online.
Campsites are heavily wooded with separation between the sites. Camping is equally popular by both RV's and tents/pop-ups. While the campground has a remote feel, it is actually within 10 minutes of a variety of restaurants. Also, a Manchester public pool is within one mile of the campground.
There are 40 tables with grills, one picnic shelter and centrally located restrooms. The picnic area is located within ¼ mile of the museum and Old Stone Fort near the fork of the Duck River.
Excellent bird watching opportunities.
A Museum Gift Shop offers a wide variety of books on aspects of Native American culture and archaeology.
Visit us in the visitor center.
Playgrounds are available.
A museum provides interpretation and orientation to the site and is located near the neck of land where the interpretative path begins. This state archaeological park is dedicated to the preservation, protection, study and interpretation of a remarkable surviving example of Tennessee's prehistoric heritage. The museum is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Check back soon for more events, or visit our event page for events in other parks.
The park offers educational and entertaining programs, which increase understanding of the Old Stone Fort, archaeology, and Native American cultures. The museum includes exhibits on the Old Stone Fort and its setting, the mound site’s significance and the culture of Mound Builders. Park programs include information on survival skills used by indigenous peoples for centuries, such as flintknapping, atlatl use, blowgun use, basket weaving, finger weaving, and pottery.
Mound sites such as the 50-acre Old Stone Fort provided ceremonial areas that may have represented in some way a separation of the sacred from the mundane or impure world. A raptor effigy pipe now at the Smithsonian was found at Old Stone Fort in the 1870s.
Several foot trails explore the Old Stone Fort enclosure and Duck River area. The trail around the perimeter of the ancient enclosure is 1.25 miles in length.
For those interested in wildlife, the park provides dragonfly and damselfly checklists. There are two miles of developed hiking trails beyond the main interpretive trail.
732 Stone Fort Drive
Manchester, TN 37355
Phone: (931) 723-5073
Old Stone Fort is on US 41 immediately north of Manchester. Exit 110 on I-24 is within 1.5 miles of the entrance by way of Hwy 53 to US 41. Manchester is approximately one hour from both Nashville and Chattanooga.
Park is open from 8:00 a.m. CT until sunset, year-round Museum is open 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. CT