Pickwick Landing State Park is located on the Tennessee River, but since the area was dammed in the 1930s, it is now referred to as Pickwick Lake. This park in Counce, Tennessee, has been the local dipping spot since the late-1840s. It wasn’t until the 1930s when the Tennessee Valley Association (TVA) decided to dam the Tennessee River to provide hydroelectric power to the surrounding areas. After the 1960s, TVA sold the area around the dam to the state, and it soon became a state park. What started as a local hangout has become a 1,416-acre state park with millions of visitors every year.
Pickwick Landing State Park is open year-round with RVers flocking to the cool waters to escape from the heat. Water sports such as boating, skiing, and swimming are some of the most treasured summer activities. Other activities, such as fishing, hiking, golfing, and canoeing, are open to all ages and provide a great way to explore the park and its surrounding areas.
There are three different types of campgrounds, but only one of them offers reservations for RV and trailer camping. The 48 wooded campsites provide a feeling of being in the middle of nowhere. The sites have water and electric hookups but no sewer connections. A dumping station is nearby for you to dispose of your waste. Whether you spend the day on the beach or go hiking in the forest, you are destined to have a refreshing time at this beautiful campground.
The park is just a five-hour drive from Atlanta, a two-hour drive from Memphis, a three-hour drive from Birmingham, and a four-hour drive from Chattanooga. The most common way to get to the park is by TN-25 or TN-128. Both routes lead near the main entrance of the park, which is located off of TN-57 with access to the towns in the area. In Counce, you can pick up groceries, watch a movie, or go strolling past small boutiques and restaurants. The park’s roads are well maintained with no cause to worry about the rare pothole on your way into the park. It is still important to drive slowly and look out for children in the area. The park’s office will be on the left, where you can check-in and pick up any maps or extra camping supplies. You can walk around the park or ride your bike to the marinas. If you do have a boat, then you may want to consider docking your boat by the marina before you go to your campsite. The marina offers two free docks and several reservable docks for larger boats. The park's gates close at night, so if you are running later than anticipated for your check-in, be sure to call ahead. In the event of inclement weather, the park will close and issue an advisory for the surrounding areas. Flash flooding is a possibility for the area surrounding the park, so be sure to stay up to date on the weather.
Pickwick Landing State Park Campground has 48 campsites available for RV and trailer camping. All sites come with water and electrical connections. A dumping station is nearby to make up for the lack of a sewer hookup. Each site is shaded and surrounded by trees that protect you from the summer sun and provides privacy from your neighbors. Only five people are allowed at each campsite and a maximum of two cars. An additional fee will be charged in the case of an extra car. Most sites are back in and paved with length limits ranging from 28 to 72 feet in length.
You and your neighbor have plenty of trees, so you don't have to worry about privacy. You have a fire ring and picnic table for enjoying some meals outdoors, and there are hot showers and restrooms nearby. The kids will enjoy all the extra space to play frisbee and other games. You can't bring your own firewood, and you must respect the campground rules prohibiting the collection of firewood from the surrounding areas. For a small price, the park gives you firewood, so remember to ask your host where you can pick up a bundle. You can book a site up to 11 months in advance, and pets are welcome as long as you keep them restrained at all times.
The Bruton Branch Primitive Campground has 33 campsites with no utilities or water, with 28 spots that can accommodate trailers and RVs up to 50 feet. Campsites four through nine are not suitable for any sized motorhome or trailer. Fourteen of the sites are situated on the banks of Pickwick Lake while the other 10 are set back a few feet, but you still have a beautiful lake view.
Even though you won’t have electric hookups, you can cook outdoors on the BBQ grill provided by the park. There is also a large picnic table so your group can eat together. A comfort station with restrooms and hot showers is available nearby. Pets are welcome, so go ahead and bring Fluffy but keep her on a leash and supervised at all times. Reservations can (and should) be made well in advance.
Across the lake from the campground, the park has 10 standard cabins with two bedrooms that can sleep up to six people. They also have central air and heat, a full kitchen, bath, cable television, and a fireplace. There are also seven premium cabins with two or three bedrooms that sleep up to eight people. These cabins are larger and more modern than the others with full-sized appliances, Wi-Fi, a gas grill, gas fireplace, and a gorgeous view of the lake. Close to the marina, golf course, and lodge, you will have access to the pools (both indoor and outdoor), restaurants, tennis courts, and all other amenities. Pets are only allowed at the pet-friendly cabins for an additional fee for a deposit. Be sure to make reservations well in advance if you want a cabin because they are popular.
Overlooking the Tennessee River just south of the dam, you can choose one of the 119 gorgeous rooms at the Inn at Pickwick Landing State Park. They all have excellent views of the lake with a private balcony, full bath, cable television, Wi-Fi, a hairdryer, and a coffee maker. You can choose from a room with one king bed or two queen beds. There are also two different sized parlor rooms. They both have a sleeper sofa, dining table, and a full bath. The large parlor rooms have full kitchens as well. You can find a gift shop to buy souvenirs and other needs, a laundry facility, and exercise rooms here as well. The inn also has a full-service restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as cocktails. You will also have access to the 18-hole golf course with over 400 fairways and Bermuda greens, as well as the tennis courts and swimming pools. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed. Reservations are needed and can be made online or by phone up to 11 months in advance.
Pickwick Lake is an excellent spot for catfish, bass, perch, crappie, and rainbow trout. Pickwick Lake is a relaxing place for fishing during the day. If you don't have a boat, you can rent one for a reasonable price from the camp store. Bait and rods are also available in the camp store. Fishing competitions are held in the park every year for a cash prize. You need to have a valid fishing license to fish in Tennessee, so just remember to pack your permit and your rod and tackle box in your RV.
The Pickwick Landing State Park Golf Course is located close to the border of Mississippi and Alabama near the dam. The golf course opened in May of 1973. Since then, it has since become a local favorite and the home of several small golf championships. The course is filled with little challenges from sand to trees between each hole. You can find the course filled with locals and a few location golfers taking in the warm sun to relax on all 18 holes. Remember to wear sunscreen and take a golf cart if you need some extra help getting around.
For your RV stay in Pickwick Landing State Park, there are two trails that you can take to stretch your travel-weary legs. The Island Loop Trail and Inn Walking Trail. The 1.2-mile Inn Walking Trail is the easier of the two trails with paved surfaces leading to the park. On this simple trail, you can take a walk and enjoy the view along the way. The Island Loop Trail is nearly three miles and runs through the middle of the RV campground area. Remember to take sunscreen and drink water on your hike. Pack your favorite pair of hiking boots, and remember to leave nature as beautiful as you found it.
If you are a fan of golfing, you may be interested in trying a game of disc golf while you are at Pickwick Landing State Park. This nine-hole course starts right next to the inn and takes you in and out of the woods near the lake for some beautiful views. The course is good for beginners while still being a nice challenge for those who play often. The course length is 2,192 feet with seven-hole lengths of less than 300 feet, one that is between 300 and 400 feet, and another that is over 400 feet. Be sure to stop at the park office for a course map.
Over 145 bird species call Tennessee home throughout the year. Different birds can be seen along the Pickwick Lake shoreline and along the trails. Pay close attention to the various types of birds and their nests. Many trails provide prime habitat for the pied-billed and horned grebes, goldfinch, American coot, big blue herons, blue jay, and many other songbirds. Remember to bring your binoculars and pack a pair of walking boots in the rig, then explore the Inn Walking Trail to see which birds you can spot.
The park takes the adventure game of geocaching and adds its own twist to it. Using the GPS on your phone, they place interesting facts along the trails for you to find. This little treasure hunt can lead you all over the park and provide a great way to learn about the flora, fauna, and history of the area. You will need your phone, comfortable walking shoes, a water bottle, and a thirst for adventure. Unlike normal geocaching you will not need a pencil, to log your cache, or trade your treasure, just remember to follow the map and you will discover some of the secrets in the park.
You can rent a canoe from the park store at a reasonable price throughout the year. Take the time to float down the Tennessee River and learn about the different flora and fauna that call the river home. Pickwick Landing State Park also provides rental lifejackets and oars. You can paddle along the river’s edge and run your fingers through the cool, crisp water. Remember to leave all electronics at your campsite to avoid having them fall into the lake. If you bring a snack on the lake, remember to take your trash with you.
Gather the family and friends for a picnic or BBQ at Pickwick State Park no matter what time of year it is. There are six different pavilions you can reserve for large groups from 20 to 300 people — shelter one seats 125 with an extra-large charcoal grill and a walking trail. Shelter two overlooks the water and can accommodate 300 people with electric, water, a fire pit, and beach area. Shelter three is near the woods and can handle up to 60 people and has a BBQ pit and plenty of tables. Shelter four is on the peninsula and can be added to shelter five to seat up to 200 people. Both sites have electric, water, and BBQ pits. Shelter six is in the woods and seats up to 200 people. This historic building was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and has a historical marker with information on the area posted on the building.