Big Ridge State Park

Quick Facts

Big Ridge State Park

Tennessee

(865) 992-5523

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

The heavily forested, 3,687-acre park lies on the southern shore of the Tennessee Valley Authority's Norris Reservoir, approximately 25 miles north of Knoxville. Visitors to the park will find a wealth of activities to meet any interest, from guided nature tours to backcountry camping along fifteen miles of hiking trails. Big Ridge State Park was one of five demonstration parks developed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as an example of public recreation development along TVA lakeshores. The structures on the park reflect the craftsmanship and stonework of the CCC, and along the trails you may see remnants of the homes and farms that existed here prior to the birth of the TVA. Before the park was created, the area was heavily populated and used for agriculture. Other notable features of the park include the Norton Gristmill built in 1825, remnants of Sharp's Station Fort construction in the late 1700s, and Indian Rock, where a plaque commemorates the death of Peter Graves, a settler of Sharp's Station who was attacked by American Indians at this spot. The park also has several notable structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Map of Big Ridge (TN)

Latitude, Longitude: 36.261376, -83.921646

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Activities

  • Boating

    Canoe, paddleboat, and rowboat rentals are available on 49-acre Big Ridge Lake. The boat dock is open seasonally from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Visitors may use their own electric trolling motors on park rowboats. Privately owned boats, including canoes and kayaks, are not permitted on Big Ridge Lake. Fishing boats, ski boats, and wave runners can be launched at the boat ramp on Norris Lake. There is no access to the boat ramp on Norris Lake during winter months.

  • Bicycling

    Bicycles are welcome on the park's roads and parking areas, but not on the trails. Bicycle riders under 16 years of age must wear a helmet.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Visitors can drive along the Big Ridge Park Road, which passes the lake and some sites of historical interest.

  • Camping

    Big Ridge has four camping options: car-accessible campgrounds, rustic cabins, a group camp, and backcountry campsites. Big Ridge has 50 campsites on or near Norris Lake to accommodate RV's, trailers, and tent campers. RV campsites have a soft gravel pad and will accommodate a unit of up to 35 feet. Each site has water and 50-amp electrical hookups, a picnic table, and a grill. A dumping station is provided, as well as three bathhouses with restrooms and hot shower facilities. Bathhouses #2 and #3 are closed during the off-season from November 1 to March 31.

    The park has 19 one-bedroom rustic cabins available from April 1 through October 31 and capable of accommodating six people. The cabins are furnished with two double beds and a sofa sleeper in the living room. Cabins have hardwood floors and screened-in porches. There is no air-conditioning. Five cabins are located on the lakeside. Fourteen sit on the ridge. Cabins are fully equipped with linens, a stove, a refrigerator, kitchen hardware, and a grill. The cabins have fireplaces, and firewood is provided seasonally. There are no televisions or phones. Reservations may be made up to two years in advance and should be made through the park office.

    Accommodating up to 120 people, the group camp has 18 screened-in bunkhouses, each sleeping six to eight people. The group camp is open from April 1 through October 31 and reservations are required. The dining hall contains a commercial kitchen facility. The group camp includes two bathhouses with hot shower facilities. No linens are provided. No RVs or tents are allowed at the group camp.

    Overnight backcountry camping is allowed at three designated campsites. Backcountry camping is free, but a permit is required. Pets on a leash are allowed. Pack animals are prohibited.

  • Fishing

    Visitors can fish year-round from any point on the shore of Big Ridge Lake except the swimming beach. Visitors can catch a variety of fish, including bluegill, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and crappie. The boat dock at Big Ridge Park is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. A state fishing license is required for individuals between 13 and 65 years of age.

  • Hiking

    The park has over 15 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy to very rugged. The trails travel along dry ridges, lush hollows, old roadbeds, lakeshores, and beside cemeteries and remnants of early settlements. The trails are open year-round and overnight camping is allowed on designated backcountry campsites by permit only. There are a total of eleven trails, leading to Norton Gristmill, secluded beaches, scenic overlooks, the dam, and other sites of historical and natural interest.

  • Historic Sites

    There are a number of sites of historical interest in the park. Sharp's Station Trail leads visitors to Sharp's Station, which was founded in the 1780s as one of the first two settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains. The other was James White Fort in Knoxville. A stone wall is all that remains of Sharp's Station fort, but a plaque commemorates the area. The Norton Gristmill, accessible on the Ole Mill Trail, was built in 1825 and privately operated until 1930. The area of the lake now known as Loyston Sea was once a bustling town called Loyston. John Loy founded the town in the early 1800s. The town of Loyston included a grocery store, gas station, school, churches, and even a post office, all of which are now covered by the waters of Norris Lake. The park also features the Big Ridge Dam, constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. The young men of the CCC are responsible for building the dam and many of the other structures in the park. Visitors can also make a stop at the Snodderly Cemetery, where many of the area's earlier inhabitants are buried. According to locals and some park visitors, eerie and inexplicable events occur along this trail. On the Ghost House Trail, visitors can make a stop at the Norton Cemetery and visit the sunken grave of Maston Hutchinson, who some think is responsible for these strange occurrences. Further along the trail towards Big Valley, visitors can see the remnants of the famous Ghost House, Maston's home that was thought to be haunted. Another trail passes Langley Cemetery, where the only modern gravestone marks the resting place of young Edward Loy, who died in 1932 at the age of 5. Indian Rock Trail leads to a rocky area where a plaque commemorates the location where Peter Graves, a settler of Sharp's Station, was scalped and killed by American Indians. Graves was turkey hunting when he though he heard a turkey gobble behind some rocks. To his surprise there was no turkey, but a group of American Indians.

  • Picnicking

    Big Ridge has three covered picnic shelters, each capable of accommodating 25 - 30 people. The shelters may be reserved for a fee. If not rented, shelters may be used free of charge, on a first come, first-served basis. Each shelter is equipped with a grill and picnic tables. Water spigots are located conveniently nearby. Open picnic areas with tables and grills are also available free to charge. The Recreation Hall, available for rent, also provides a picnic area and accommodates 70 people.

  • RVing

    Big Ridge has 50 campsites on or near Norris Lake to accommodate RV's, trailers, and tent campers. RV campsites have a soft gravel pad and will accommodate a unit of up to 35 feet. Each site has water and 50-amp electrical hookups, a picnic table, and a grill. A dumping station is provided, as well as three bathhouses with restrooms and hot shower facilities.

  • Tennis

    The park has two tennis courts. The courts do not have lights.

  • Water Sports

    A sandy beach next to Big Ridge Lake provides swimming enjoyment from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 8:00a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. An enclosed, concrete-bottomed area is provided for children. Swimming is free of charge. There is no lifeguard on duty. Ski boats and wave runners can be launched at the boat ramp on Norris Lake.

Seasonality/Weather

The park is open-year round, but fewer facilities are available in the winter. The boat ramps and swimming beach are closed after Labor Day, and some campground facilities are closed in the winter.

Directions

Driving

From I-75 exit 122, take Hwy. 61 east for approximately 12 miles. Park entrance is on the left. The park is located between the cities of Andersonville and Maynardville.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(865) 992-5523

Links