Situated in a remote section of the upper Cumberland Plateau, Pickett CCC Memorial State Park is known for its geological, botanical, and scenic wonders. The park lies within the 19,200-acre Pickett State Forest, and adjacent to the massive 120,000 acre Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, both areas containing prime wilderness country. Visitors to the park can explore large rock houses, natural sandstone bridges, scenic bluffs, and wild mountain streams. Spring brings dazzling displays of wildflowers, summer an abundance of blackberries and wild blueberries, and autumn a patchwork of colors to the countryside. The park memorializes and preserves the unique work of the Civilian Conservation Corps CCC, who first developed the park. In 1933 the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company donated nearly 12,000 acres of land to the State of Tennessee to be developed as a forest recreational area. Initial development of the area by the Civilian Conservation Corps CCC occurred between 1934 and 1942, it consisted of hiking trails, 5 rustic cabins, a recreation lodge, a ranger station, and a twelve-acre lake. Many of the original buildings were constructed of native sandstone rock that the CCC boys quarried from the nearby forest. These beautifully built buildings have stood the test of time, thus qualifying the park to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This moderate, well-maintained, out-and-back trail leads to one of Cumberland Plateau's best rock houses. Start from the trailhead at the park entrance sign on Hwy 154, and be prepared for some elevation change.
A nice, cool place to be in Summer, and beautiful in the Fall (like today's walk).
Hidden Passage was one of the very best hikes in TN. It isn't any more due to poor trail maintenance. Three of us from TTA backpacked the trail this weekend. Going counter clockwise we experienced over an grown trail with enough thorn bushes to cut up the most experienced backpackers. For the novice hiker the trail could easily be lost due to the over grown brush. Double Falls is still a wonderful camping area. The trail to Double Falls is in excellent shape, we guessed because it is maintained by Big South Fork, not Picket State Park folks. After Thompson's Overlook the Picket folks got loose with a bulldozer and destroyed a significant part of the beautiful old trail. I have hiked Hidden Passage a half dozen times in the last 20 year and am very sad to see how it has declined. If Picket staff, for some reason, can't maintain the trail maybe TTA or another organization could help. Bull dozer work needs to be halted and damage needs to be corrected.
The trail was very isolated, we never came across another person. The trail was so overgrown in parts that you cannot pass without a machete. As a result we ended up on an unmarked trail that was not on the provided map. Speaking of the map, my boyfriend is an experienced hiker and he had difficulty reading it. We brought a backpack with food, water, a first aid kit, and a knife. next time we will certainly bring bug spray and a bear horn because we each pulled off about 8 ticks from us afterwards and came face to face with a bear (about 10-15 ft from us). The trail was not well maintained, many down trees. All in all, my boyfriend enjoyed it but I am a novice hiker and it was a little too much for me.
I wanted to start my hiking/camping second go around (it's been well over 20 years) slow and at my own pace. This trail was great and nice and easy. Great views, nice inclines and very gradual. This is a great day hike, my initial intentions were to just do Hazard Cave and when I came up on Natural Bridge trail I just went for it. This was a great decision. I will be back when there is not 6-8 inches of snow and a sheet of ice on the Natural Bridge..hahhah...