Surrounded by amazing views of the Cumberland Mountains and directly adjacent to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Pickett CCC Memorial State Park is a nature lover's paradise, featuring 19,200 acres of caves, natural bridges, and spectacular rock formations. Located northeast of Jamestown, Tennessee, this state park is a popular location for RV campers. From hiking and swimming to stargazing and horseback riding, Pickett CCC Memorial State Park offers a variety of outdoor fun.
The mountain views are outstanding and rise up to 2,200 feet. Visitors love taking in the fresh mountain air while being surrounded by the unique geological, botanical, and scenic wonders. There are vibrant wildflowers and brilliant colors to observe in the park. History buffs will enjoy the opportunity to walk through a museum that houses Native American artifacts and interpretative exhibits on the creation of the park.
As you may have been guessing from the park's name, Pickett CCC Memorial State Park was originally developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s and early 1940s. The name of the park honors the hard work and efforts of the CCC. Many structures and features constructed by the CCC are still in use by the park today, including several hiking trails, the ranger station, and even the lake.
After arriving at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park visitors can head out onto one of its many trails. Ten hiking trails offer breathtaking views, waterfalls, and diverse plant life. The trails vary in length and difficulty. If visitors are seeking a leisurely stroll, they can explore the Indian Rock House Trail, a short trail shrouded with beautiful plant life. For the rugged, more adventurous visitors, Hidden Passage Trail is a nearly eight-mile-long multi-day backpacking trail that requires a permit.
Pickett CCC Memorial State Park is easily accessible by car or RV. It is located in Jamestown, TN, off of Pickett Park Highway. There are no driving restrictions for RVs or trailers in the park, so RV campers will be able to get around easily. Guests can also enter the park by bike or on foot. Park roads are paved and easily navigated while driving an RV or towing a trailer.
There are several parking locations for trailers and RVs. Visitors will be able to locate spots at the Visitor Center and at trailheads off of Pickett Park Highway. Of course, if they are staying overnight they can also park at the campground. Keep in mind that the campground can only hold rigs up to 34 feet long.
Pickett CCC Memorial State Park offers 27 pet-friendly campsites available for RVs and tents year-round. The campsites are divided between Campground A and B. While all campsites provide water hookups, only 20 of them offer electricity. Amenities at this campground include a modern bathhouse and a dump station, and each site has a gravel pad, picnic table, fire ring, and grill. Most sites offer partial shade, although some are situated on a slight incline, so RV campers should keep that in mind when they are parking their rig. The kids will love visiting the playground and picnic area that is within walking distance from every site. Firewood is available for sale in the park. Visitors will be close to the hiking trails and can stay up to 14 days at a time.
Pickett CCC Memorial State Park does not provide trash cans, so visitors should be prepared to haul out their own garbage. There is bear activity in the park so guests should know how to store their food appropriately. Reservations can be made up to one year in advance.
Accessible only by foot, bicycle, or horseback, Charit Creek Wilderness Lodge offers a unique way to stay in Pickett CCC Memorial State Park. The lodge features rustic cabins where visitors can get a taste of what life was like before electricity. For a fee, guests stay overnight in a private cabin far from the distractions of modern life. Surrounded by trees and wildlife, family-style meals are provided for visitors who pay for an overnight stay in this one-of-a-kind retreat.
Visitors who like the water will appreciate the chance to swim at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park. The swimming area is lined with beautiful sandstone bluffs and features a man-made sandy beach. However, there is no lifeguard on duty, and it is a "swim at your own risk" area. There is no cost to swim, and the beach is open daily from the end of May until early September.
Pickett CCC Memorial State Park provides an ideal opportunity for visitors to bring their boat and venture out onto majestic Arch Lake. While motorboats aren't allowed, canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks are welcome here. Visitors can gain an appreciation for the natural beauty of the region as they paddle under the rock bridge from which the lake gets its name. For RV campers who did not bring their own watercraft, the Visitor Center has a number of fishing boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes available for rent. All boaters are required to wear life jackets while on the water.
For anglers with the proper permits, trout fishing on Arch Lake is an excellent way to take in the scenery and have a relaxing time close to the water. At 12 acres in size, it shouldn't be too hard to find a secluded spot in the lake to cast a line, especially for visitors with a boat. Arch Lake is stocked with fish throughout the summer, so it's never over-fished. Anglers of all ages can enjoy the prime fishing Arch Lake has to offer.
Visitors will want to have a good pair of hiking boots in their Airstream since there are 10 hiking trails throughout Pickett CCC Memorial State Park with a range of difficulty levels. If they are seeking an easy stroll, visitors can check out the Indian Rockhouse Trail. This short trail meanders through colorful wildflowers and features spectacular scenery that sets it apart from the surrounding area. For a more advanced hike, visitors can acquire a backpacking permit and venture out onto Hidden Passage Trail, a nearly eight-mile-long trail that will take them deeper into the park for a multi-day adventure.
Pickett CCC Memorial State Park Archaeology Museum showcases the history of the Native Americans of the Upper Cumberland Plateau region in and around the park. Visitors can park their rigs outside the museum and stroll in to check out the exhibits on display or watch a short film offering more information on the artifacts and history of the region. At the Nature Center, visitors can see how archaeological research is conducted and how the artifacts are prepared for display in the museum.
Stargazing fanatics should make sure to pack their telescope in their motorhome so that they can properly view the breathtaking stars. Pickett CCC Memorial State Park is a certified dark sky viewing area, and it's the first in its region to be designated as such. Children and adults will be amazed at the beauty of a clear night sky that is almost totally free of light pollution, which makes the stars much clearer and brighter. The astronomy field is located above the gravel parking lot on Highway 154 and has electricity.
If visitors wish to learn more about the history and archaeology of the park, they can take a ten-minute walk from the Nature Center to Rock Creek Mortar Shelter Site. Children and adults will learn how park staff and volunteers excavate the site in hopes of discovering more about the unique artifacts known to the area. Explore and learn about the long, 11,500-year history of the area from the earliest humans in the region all the way up to about 1,000 years ago.