|Pickett State Park, Tennessee|
Indian Rockhouse-Hazard Cave
|With over 58 miles of trails, there are plenty of hiking options at Pickett. This loop trail starts and ends with a couple of short out and back spurs, which together pass many large sandstone overhangs and a natural rock bridge.
Across the road from the parking area, the Indian Rockhouse Trail descends gently into the forest. The way is clear and easy under foot, just some exposed tree roots. It only takes about 5 minutes to get down to the Rockhouse, a huge sandstone overhang. Take a closer look and you will see parts of the rock carved over time into intricate shapes, and beautifully colored by algae and lichen.
Return to the road and cross to the Hazard Cave Trail. Concrete steps and a well-formed path lead down into the forest. Turn left towards a rock overhang, continuing to descend as you go. A boardwalk has been placed where it is very wet, but under the main part of the overhang the ground is dry and sandy. A large cave has formed at the far end. The overhang, a huge formation, continues beyond the cave, and you can venture along a path for a closer look. You will need to return to the cave though to continue on the loop.
The trail leads on up through the forest – the path may not be obvious at first, so look out for the white blazes on the trees. The narrow path is eroded in places and there are some short, steep descents that can be slippery. You pass more overhangs, now on both sides; it is rather like walking through a gorge. Parts of the trail are rugged, with lots of fallen trees, but it is generally very easy.
30 minutes along Hazard Cave Trail, turn right at the Ridge Trail junction, continuing to follow the white blazes. A few seconds later, bear right (away from the bridge). Not long after that, Hazard Cave Trail turns sharp right (ignore the trail ahead), signed Natural Bridge 1 mile, Hazard Cave 1.25 mile.
After a gentle climb, the trail forks. Take the right fork to continue on Hazard Cave Trail (the left fork is the first of two short connecting trails to Natural Bridge). Soon you pass another spur trail to Natural Bridge leading off to the left – this is the shorter route to the beautiful rock arch. It connects with Natural Bridge Trail, which heads east through the forest directly to the arch. It is not far, perhaps no more than 0.6 mile there and back. (If you don’t want to walk it, the arch is close to Hwy 284 and therefore easily accessible from the road – a parking area is just north of the Hazard Cave trailhead).
Back on Hazard Cave Trail, the remaining 15 minutes is a nice easy walk through the forest back to the trailhead.
|Location: In the Cumberland Mountains of East Tennessee, close to the Kentucky state-line and adjacent to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.
Directions: On Hwy 154, 12 miles north-east of Jamestown.
Trailhead: Parking area on Hwy 154, 0.7 mile south of the Park office.
Length: 3.5 miles / 5.6 km
Trail Type: Loop
Elevation Change: Negligible
Duration: 1.5 hours
Trail Condition: Generally well maintained and easy to follow. Marked by blazes – Indian Rockhouse, orange; Hazard Cave, white; Natural Bridge, brown.
Features: Rock formations (overhangs and natural bridge), forest.
Climate: Hiking possible year-round.
Accommodation: Cabins (2-night minimum stay), tent and RV sites inside the Park. Motels and B&Bs in Jamestown.
Trail Notes: A hand-drawn trail map is available from the Park office.
Popularity: 16% [?]