Big Hill Pond State Park in Pocahontas, TN was a surprise find while looking for places to backpack recently. Calamity had spent the week before at Dauphin Island walking her knee into a sore mess on the beaches (I don’t really feel sorry for her, it WAS on the beach) and was out for a trip, even a short one. So I rounded up The Boys: Theory and his two best friends of more than a decade. Paycheck joined our group and we loaded into the WanderWagon for a mini road trip!
In Corinth, we stopped at Blazing Noodlez for lunch and got to the trail around 1 in the afternoon. The park manager saw me looking at the posted map and set me up with 2 of my very own to tote around, I gave one to the boys who tend to outhike me without fail.
The state park has a campground with no power or water at the sites, but a nice modern bathhouse (on a hill, why do they do that? hahaha! I don’t think I have even done the 2 a.m. potty run DOWN to the bathhouse) and there is a boat launch and a small visitors center. That’s it for frufru! There is recycling across from the visitor center, so keep that in mind. There are miles of trails for hiking and for horses and 5 camping shelters scattered around the trails that are set up for backpacking. They are free to use and are not reserveable.
We opted to do the most popular route, the (approx) 9 mile loop around the lake, starting with a side trip across the boardwalk and then up to the observation tower. From there we got on to the Dry Ridge Trail which is marked with black on the trail markers and black dots on the maps.
It is a clear and open trail that loops the lake on rolling hills. The only iffy part is where it crosses a series of marshy spots and the trail is muddy and there is one short section that has mulberry trees lining both sides making it a tunnel of sorts. There were no water sources along the route, other than the lake itself. We scooped and treated water at camp, having downed our ‘house water’ on the hike in. I’d rather get water from a stream any day, but the feeder streams were muddy and shallow, the lake was much cleaner.
But before that is the Grassy Point Shelter, the only one on the lake. It has a shelter with plywood bunks, a fire ring, lake access (no swimming, but boats are allowed) and several open areas for tents or hammocks. There are big earred bats in some of the shelters and as they are endangered, the park has to leave them be. So they advise camping ‘out front’ instead of inside.
When we arrived, there was a father/son duo already set up. They did not mind sharing, so we set up on the other side of the little peninsula for the night and made dinner on our biolite stove. The boys played cards and we chilled for a while before hitting the sack about 9.
Being on the lake was noisy. Coyotes got going, so the local dogs were barking too. There is a train that goes through the park and it sounds off at each road crossing. The frogs were at it, geese at dawn, some ducks that sounded like they might be on fire-but looked pretty normal. Oh, and fish leaping at bugs off an on. We had a raccoon come sort our 2 pieces of trash for us, it walked under the hammock! So bring earplugs, the sound carries across the water very well.
The night was chilly, but the sun warmed us up fast and I took down the rain fly to lounge in the sunshine while avoiding being too useful. Paycheck got some water heated up and I sneaked my diet Pepsi in my hammock, hehehehe. We had oatmeal and hot tea and I eventually moved my lounging spot to a little sunny knoll. It was darn near perfect.
The boys got up and packed up, had some breakfast and we headed out after restocking on water. At least the lake water did not have any smell or taste, it was cool and refreshing. The only horror of the trip water-wise was that the spot I was scooping water the night before was filled with frogs eggs the next morning!
The hike back to the van was lovely, we skirted the lake and crossed a long bridge, climbed the one long hill of the day and the rest of the hike we meandered through the woods undulating back and forth and up and down as the trail navigated the many low gullies that channel rainwater to the lake.
The van was parked above the levee and we popped out of the woods right behind it quite suddenly!
It’s not a hard hike, but I would hesitate in doing this one with really young kids as the trail isn’t varied much and the repetitive (short) climbs and descents can be taxing to little ones who may not marvel at the way the lake sparkles for 4 hours straight.
If doing a day hike, consider taking a trash bag, there are cans at the boat launch and at the parking area. We picked up a full bag as we went of mostly plastic water bottles. There’s plenty more out there, the boys had their pack pockets stuffed with crushed bottles, we just could not get it all. It’s mostly at the observation tower where people walk there and back.