Big Ridge

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Into Dark Holler we go. How many years since I’ve been there God only knows. It was back in the Ricky Bobby days. My friend Toni is trying to get state parks on her passport. So we paid $17 to sleep on the ground. Actually she paid it so I shouldn’t complain. But to think it’s more expensive to sleep on the ground in a state park than the Smokies is just inconceivable . Of course we were the only people there. I suppose solitude comes at a price.
The weather and company were both warm.
Full moon illuminated the campsite at 2 am. Reverse eclipse.
We hit three state parks. Including Big Ridge there was Cove lake and Norris Dam.

it was peak leaf weekend.

Hope y’all got to experience it.

3 Responses

  1. KT

    Always enjoy the reports John. Long story short: I worked (Ranger) for TN State Parks back in the 80’s. State Parks have come a long way, especially the trail system from what it was then. Many of us then with natural resource backgrounds/education tried to get some things accomplished but were usually stopped. The park system management was still mostly political cronies back in those days who had no sense of how to manage the resource. My wife and I hiked that trail at Big Ridge where Toni is standing by the sign. That trail and that signage would not have existed back in my day. There are some hidden gems in the State Parks and overall the mgmt is much more professional now…thank goodness. Still improvement to be made, but it is better for sure.

  2. John

    Always appreciate your comments. Didn’t know you were involved with the state parks. I used to backpack into Big Ridge many years ago and it has changed since my last outing over a decade ago. There was no one in the backcountry camping. The ranger called us to check on my vehicle at the trailhead as if it were anomalous to be in the woods. The signage is improved but they (ranger) was waiting on us as we exited to ask about trail conditions, which were in need of some chainsaw work. Our total to camp on the ground with zero amenities was 17$ and some change for state tax. State tax on a state park to sleep on the ground in addition to the fee? Something has gone terribly awry. This is fee grabbing. But, they followed the Smokies lead. There are times when it may be argued that crowds justify a fee. Definitely not here. Why would a family pay this when they can stay in a place with electric hookups and bathrooms for very little more. I think the state parks should encourage backcountry camping. I don’t think this is the best way to do so.

  3. KT

    When I worked for State Parks, I think only Fall Creek Falls and maybe South Cumberland had backcountry sites that were “developed.” I could be wrong on that as it has been a few years and my memory has faded and there have been parks added to the system since then also. I avoided the parks for several years due to my disgust with the way they were managed. The Bredesen administration started bringing a more professional approach to mgmt in the parks.

    I agree with you on the fees. I don’t have a problem for a fee on the water and electric sites, but the backcountry sites I don’t think should have a fee. I do think things are better overall with State Parks, but when we were at Big Ridge a few weeks ago we noticed the blow downs on the the trail also. That’s disappointing….because we were there mid September. Big Ridge and Norris both are beautiful places.