July 2009: Pickett State Park and Forest

Jamestown, Tennessee

Situated in a remote section of the upper Cumberland Mountains, the 17,000 acres of Pickett State Park and Forest, once owned by the massive Stearns Coal & Lumber Company, became one of Tennessee’s earliest state parks in the 1930s. Here are botanical and geological wonders found nowhere else in Tennessee. The Civilian Conservation Corps set up shop in the dark forest during the Depression and crafted enough buildings of locally quarried sandstone that the park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

With 58 miles of hiking trails you could hunker down with your dog for a week in these hollows but the attraction of Pickett for most canine adventurers is that most of the more accessible trails are short, ranging from a quarter-mile to three miles so you can sample many of them in a short visit. One of the jewels of Pickett State Park is the Hidden Passage Trail that ducks in and out of rock houses and slides past trickling waterfalls. Pickett is a wild place and trail maintenance may be spottier than on the groomed pathways of some parks; also make sure you secure a good map to help with the abundance of spur trails. Other highlights include the 3/4-mile Lake View Trail along still, dark green waters accessed by a swinging bridge and the 1.5-mile loop through dense foliage to a memorable conclusion at a natural bridge.

Take I-40 to Exit 317 and take Hwy. 127 north for 46 miles. Turn right on Highway 154 and travel another 12 miles to the park entrance.