Dramatic sandstone cliffs, stone arches, rock shelters and rushing mountain streams make Pickett State Park on the Cumberland Plateau a scenic wonderland. Unique microclimates form around these geologic formations, creating havens where diverse flora and fauna thrive.
In Tennessee, Pickett is second only to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in biodiversity. Rare plants, such as Cumberland sandwort, Lucy Braun’s snakeroot, and rockhouse featherbells grow along trails. Some trail areas have boardwalks, allowing visitors to see these beautiful plants while protecting the flora from damage. Look for dazzling wildflowers in spring, juicy blackberries and wild blueberries in summer, and a vivid autumn patchwork of colors.
Pickett is home to a growing population of black bears, reintroduced to the area in the late 1990s after being hunted to extinction on the Cumberland Plateau in the early 1900s. This is prime wilderness, both in the 19,200-acre Pickett State Forest and in the adjacent 120,000 acre Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Stearns Coal and Lumber Company donated the land for the park in 1933, and the site opened as Pickett Forest Park in 1936. Two Civilian Conservation Corps Camps constructed trails, cabins, a lodge, ranger station, and a 12-acre lake. The CCC structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Visitors enjoy staying in the park’s cabins or camping onsite for quick access to fishing in the stocked Arch Lake or hiking on the more than 58 miles of trails that meander through the park and forest with spectacular views of arches, natural bridges and waterfalls. The Hidden Passage Trail is especially beloved by hikers, with waterfalls, large rock houses and a beautiful overlook along the way. The swimming beach, lined with sandstone bluffs, is one of the most picturesque in the South.
Pickett State Park has 20 rental cabins, with four styles to accommodate different size families. There are five rustic CCC cabins that can accommodate four people, five standard cabins can accommodate up to six people, five suite cabins can accommodate two people and five deluxe cabins can accommodate eight people. Each type of cabin is completely equipped for housekeeping with modern bathrooms, kitchen appliances, cooking utensils, linens and towels and fireplaces. There are 32 campsites at the park, each with electric and water hookups, picnic tables and grills.
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