Standing Stone State Park Stands Alone in Beauty
What could be more soul satisfying than a crisp fall day and a few relaxing hours in native hardwood forests filled with brilliant yellow, orange and scarlet fall foliage?
I’ve visited many of Tennessee’s scenic treasures through the years, but I have to say, a spot I saw last week at Standing Stone State Park on the Cumberland Plateau was extraordinary.
It was along the gently sloping, tree-lined shore of an arm of Standing Stone Lake. The lake takes an “x” shape as Bryans Fork, Morgan Creek and Mill Creek are impounded by the classic stone dam. In addition to the view, I was interested in landing some of the lake’s bass, bream, crappie, lake trout and catfish. The park has fishing boats and pedal boats for rent or you may bring your own canoe or kayak.
As lovely as it is during fall, I imagine winter turns the park into a wonderland when snow flies. Spring wildflowers are prolific along the Lake Trail as it winds around the 69-acre lake. The longer Cooper Mountain Loop Trail climbs into the adjacent Standing Stone State Forest. Both trails are intended for day use.
An Olympic-sized swimming pool is open during summer. The park has 14 rustic cabins offered between April and October plus three timber lodge cabins and four modern cabins available year round.
Thirty-six tent and trailer sites have picnic tables, grills, water hookups and electrical connections for RVs of up to 45 feet long. Four group lodges can accommodate between 12 and 48 people in various configurations.
While on the way to check out the largest group lodge, I visited a picturesque picnic spot. The park does not have a restaurant, so I fed body and soul while enjoying the splendid view with the lunch I’d packed before leaving home.
It’s hard to imagine how this area looked during the 1930s when the land was too poor to farm and most of the trees had been cut. Now you see trees, trees and more trees in a healthy, productive forest that offers wildlife viewing as well as big and small game hunting during regular statewide seasons.
The diverse habitats (stream side, lake, mountain ridges) in the park draw waterfowl, eagles, ospreys, sharp-shinned hawks and Cooper’s hawks as well as thrushes, warblers and tanagers.
Standing Stone takes its name from a 12-foot tall rock shaped like a sitting dog that once stood upright on a sandstone ledge. Theories vary as to its significance but whether it was a landmark or spiritual icon for the Cherokee, only a remnant of the stone remained by 1895. Its last vestige was moved to a park in Monterey where it remains today.
Special events include the 14th Annual Car Show that begins at 8 A.M. on October 13 in the big field below the dam. About 300 vehicles ranging from classics to hot rods are expected and there will also be live music and food vendors on hand.
On November 17, the Frostbite Running Club sponsors the five-mile Bigfoot Scramble at Standing Stone. This is one of 21 races that are part of the 34th annual Tennessee State Park Running Tour.
The park is nationally known as host of the National Rolley Hole Championships, a highly competitive tribute to the traditional game of marbles each September. A spring Naturalists Rally is held during April.
For more info contact the park at 800-713-5157, 931-823-6347 or click here.