The first time Tennessee Vacation visited Unicoi County’s Rocky Fork State Park, it was still under development. Recently, we got a chance to see the expansive work that's been done in a few short months.
This 2,036-acre preserve was designated Tennessee’s 55th State Park in October 2012, and is sited in the wild and rugged Blue Ridge Mountains of Northeast Tennessee. While long-term plans for the park are in the “planning and conceptual design stages,” according to the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, a great deal has been done in 2016 to improve access and recreation.
Among the most immediate improvements to the park was the construction of a larger gravel parking lot at entrance, where previously only a few vehicles could fit. Improved hiking trails are in the works, including plans to link the park’s trail system to the famed Appalachian Trail, which passes through the immense Cherokee National Forest that surrounds Rocky Fork on three sides.
Additionally, Rocky Fork was awarded a Federal Recreational Trails grant by the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation to create and maintain access to and develop historic interpretive markers for the Flint Creek Battle Site, located within the park. In this critical military engagement during what became known as the Chickamauga Wars, militiamen under the command of Revolutionary War hero and legendary Tennessean John Sevier defeated a faction of the Chickamauga Cherokee at the base of Flint Mountain in January 1789.
The funds have been allocated for the procurement and installation of a bridge over Rocky Fork Creek that will allow visitors considerably easier access to the Flint Creek battlefield.