When I think of this State Park my thoughts go to the water and how many activities there are at the park relating to those. There is a lake, so naturally that means there is boating, jet skiing, canoeing and of course fishing. But what about those who aren't looking to do those things and want to tackle the park in a different way? What is there for them to do?
Well I am one of those people who enjoys the water, but truly likes to go to a place that has hiking and other activities for me to do as well. This place had so many things all in the peaceful setting of the lake. I enjoyed the museum on location the Lenior Cultural Center, which was a great way to see the past through the items which were commonly used in the area not only to establish them dam but also in the earlier days of the development of the area. It was really interesting to see some of the items. For those looking to do something a bit more hands on they also offer interpretive programs at this facility and ranger led programs.
Then there is the hiking, lots and lots of hiking!! I personally found this to be the best aspect of this park. Located just a short distance from the Smoky Mountains, a lot of times you don't think of hiking in this area because you are wanting to go to the "bigger better" trails in the National Park, but bypassing these trails is a huge disservice to yourself if you are in Tennessee. There are 16 trails overall at this park alone with difficulty and distance ranging. All the trails are natural surface trails and while many of them seemed very flat none were truly ADA accessible.
I stayed here at one of the two campgrounds, however they do also offer backcountry camping and cabin camping at this facility. My site was shaded and slightly off from the water on higher ground. it was flat and had hard packed dirt where my tent was set up. there was a lot of grass in the area around my campground. The site itself was pretty typical with a fire ring and concrete picnic table.
The only thing I found slightly off-putting about this camp was the mosquitoes, even late into the season they seemed to still be thriving. This made preparing food at night really a battle even with bug spray.
- If booking online (during busy months). there will be a $5 online service charge. Despite this fee this is the best way to ensure you have a site during busy weekends and holiday weekends when it tends to be very busy.
- Bring bug spray and a candle for camp to keep the bugs away.
Love this State Park. We have been there twice in the past six weeks. Great hiking trails, fishing, waster entry for SUP, and interesting museums. It even has an AMAZING local brewery close by called Clinch River Brewery!
We have now stayed in both the east and west campgrounds, we preferred the east but both are lovely. If staying in west I would recommend staying in a middle camp site as the outer is difficult to pitch a tent with the slopes. The east has power lines running through it but has great hiking and the wildlife is more apparent. We saw dozens of deer, beautiful birds and even had a visit from an opposum during the night (forgot to bring the trash in, oops!)
We arrived late but found our site easily. Beautiful park. We will definitely be back.