From Glowing Worms to Victorian Villages

Adventure and History in the Big South Fork Watershed


South Fork of the Cumberland watershed



Glow worms, jaw-dropping sandstone arches, and certified dark skies. There’s a reason we consider Pickett CCC Memorial State Park the hidden gem of the Cumberland Plateau. The park borders the massive 120,000 acre Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area,  widely known for its diverse hiking trails, scenic gorges, and rock formations. Pickett State Park offers a slice of that experience with a few extra dashes of history, caves, and waterfalls to explore.

Read more about Pickett State Park and a selection of highlights surrounding the park in this guide.

Camping and Cabins at Pickett
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Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

4605 Pickett Park Hwy, Jamestown, TN 38556

The park offers two options for overnight adventures, cabins, and campsites. The cabins are located right above the lake, making it easy to skip down to the shore for some swimming or canoeing whenever you please. There’s a variety of cabin styles to choose from, including cozy historic cabins and deluxe three-bedroom abodes. The park restored the historic cabins with modern amenities like new furniture and appliances in 2021. 

If you’re willing to forgo a solid roof over your head for the night, you can’t go wrong with tent camping at Pickett. The park is located in an internationally certified dark sky zone, providing incredible views of the stars. 16 of the 26 campsites offer electrical and water hookups, and all of the sites are near a bathhouse with hot showers.

Image courtesy of Tennessee Photographs

Find Glow Worms in Hazard Cave
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Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

4605 Pickett Park Hwy, Jamestown, TN 38556

Pickett CCC Memorial State Park is home to a unique glowing creature. From mid to late May through early July each year, the inside of Hazard Cave turns into a stunning starscape thanks to a bunch of tiny “glow worms”. These glow worms are not actually worms. They’re insect larvae of the fungus gnat (Ofelia fultoni). In the dark confines of the Hazard Cave rock house, these glow worms emit blue, glowing light on the cave walls and the surrounding vegetation. While these larvae can be seen year-round, they’re at their peak during the first weeks of June.

Image courtesy of Tennessee Photographs

Tennessee State Parks staff is committed to protecting these magnificent glowing creatures, so they only allow Ranger-led hikes to access the cave after dark. Cave tours are available from May to early July each year. You can register on the park’s event calendar during those months.

Canoe Under the Rock Bridge
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Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

4605 Pickett Park Hwy, Jamestown, TN 38556

In the middle of Pickett CCC Memorial State Park, you’ll find Arch Lake. This small but scenic lake is surrounded by rock formations iconic to the Upper Cumberland and features a large sandstone arch that gives the lake its name. Head down to the boat dock, where you’ll find plenty of paddle craft for rent, such as canoes, paddleboards, and rowboats. The park’s rental operations are open during the summer, often starting on Memorial Day and closing on Labor Day. You can always call the park office to find out if paddling rentals will be available during your visit, or bring your own and access the lake year-round.


Once you’ve boarded your paddle craft, head to the right from the boat dock. After just a few minutes of paddling, you’ll come upon a large sandstone arch. Spend some time exploring the cool underside of the rock as you paddle beneath it. If you look down past the lake’s surface, you’ll see an abundance of beautiful aquatic plants stretching towards the sunlight. Take your time exploring the lake’s boundaries before returning to solid ground.

Image courtesy of Tennessee Photographs

Stargaze at the Astronomy Field
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Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area

3899 Pickett Park Hwy, Jamestown, TN 38556

Dark skies are becoming increasingly hard to find. However, at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park, you’ll find sweeping views of the night sky, including the Milky Way, meteors, and several constellations. Pickett CCC Memorial State Park, and nearby Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area, were named a Silver-tier International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association in 2015.

There’s an astronomy field located right above the gravel parking lot at Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area. Bring a blanket, a thermos of something hot, and a telescope if you’ve got it, and enjoy the show.

Chase Waterfalls on the Hidden Passage Loop Trail
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Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

4605 Pickett Park Hwy, Jamestown, TN 38556

The best part about Pickett is that many of the most beautiful features are located less than ¼-mile from the trailheads, making it a perfect adventure destination for a wide range of guests. 

Hop on the Hidden Passage Trail, an 8-mile loop. Less than a mile from the trailhead you’ll come across Crystal Falls. This beautiful stair-stepped waterfall surrounded by lush rhododendrons is a pleasant surprise so close to the entrance of the trail. Spend some time enjoying the fall before continuing the loop to find Double Falls, Thompson Overlook, and even more unique rock formations. 

If you’d like to make this a shorter hike, you can turn around once you reach Crystal Falls and then continue your journey elsewhere in the park.

Image courtesy of Tennessee Photographs

Explore Pickett’s CCC Museum
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Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

4605 Pickett Park Hwy, Jamestown, TN 38556

If you’ve been admiring the unique stonework throughout the park, you’ll want to visit the park’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum and learn about the park’s construction.

The CCC was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a part of the New Deal. It provided work and vocational training for unemployed young men during the Great Depression. The CCC focused on conserving and developing the country’s natural resources. They performed a variety of activities, including the construction of hiking trails, five rustic cabins, a recreation lodge, a ranger station, and a 12-acre lake at the park. The outstanding stonework created by the CCC can still be seen throughout the park’s buildings, such as the museum.

To access the museum you’ll need to stop by the park office and pick up the key. Inside you’ll find two rooms filled with exhibits that tell the story of the CCC workers and their time working to construct Pickett State Park. There’s even an interactive touch-screen exhibit that allows you to hear stories directly from the workers.

Image courtesy of Tennessee Photographs

Picnics and Natural Bridges
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Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

4605 Pickett Park Hwy, Jamestown, TN 38556

When it’s time to eat, pack your meal to-go and head over to the picnic area by the lake. There’s plenty of tables dispersed along the shore under the shade of trees. Once you’re finished and packed your things up in the car, get ready to cross the picturesque suspension bridge and hop on the Lakeview Trail. Go right to meander through the forest until you reach the natural bridge that crosses over the lake. You can walk across the natural bridge and jump on the .3-mile Island Trail loop. You can hike back out the way you came or continue on take the Island Trail up to the Nature Center.

Engage with History at Sgt. Alvin C. York State Park
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Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park

2609 N York Hwy, Pall Mall, TN 38577

Explore the home of one of the most decorated soldiers of World War I at Sgt. Alvin C. York State Park. Located 40 minutes west of Pickett, this park includes a visitor center modeled after York’s general store, his two-story house, a gristmill, the York Bible School, and the York Farm. 


Hop on the York Grave-Site Trail that follows the Wolf River. Cross the suspension bridge to the Methodist Church, where York experienced his religious conversion, and the Wolf River Cemetery, which includes the burial site of Sgt. York and his wife, Miss Gracie.

Schedule a tour of the York home where he and his wife, Gracie, raised their children after the conclusion of World War 1. Tours are offered by park staff daily and can be booked online.

Image courtesy of Tennessee Photographs

Visit Highland Manor Winery
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Highland Manor Winery

2965 S York Hwy, Jamestown, TN 38556

After a day of exploring Pickett State Park, take a trip into nearby Jamestown to unwind at Highland Manor Winery. 

The winery is Tennessee’s oldest; the Moody family has been in the grape and wine production business for nearly four decades, aiming to follow the region’s tradition of wine-making that put the state at the forefront of grape production before prohibition. 

With sprawling vineyards built into the rugged terrain of the Cumberland Plateau, Highland Manor is the perfect place to relax after a long day of adventure. Take a guided tour around Highland Manor’s production area. Here you’ll see all the steps in the winemaking process and learn more about how the winery turns its grapes into 15 varieties of wine, all on-site in Jamestown.  

After the tour, Indulge in a wine tasting– complimentary to guests 21 and up– before buying a bottle of your favorite and settling in for a picnic on their patio. 

Feel free to pack your own dinner, or choose from a selection of cheeses and snacks at the winery’s store and make your way down to the wine cellar for a meal in a special setting. 

Before you leave, make sure to stop by the Highland Manor gift shop to pick up a treat to take home– you’ll find a variety of local jams, cheeses, and wine accessories to choose from. The Moody family also makes their own honey– pick up a jar before you head back to Pickett for a cozy night in your cabin or tent.

Image courtesy of Highland Manor Winery

Grab a Coffee at Gather
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Gather Coffee Lounge

211 Depot St, Oneida, TN 37841

Your exploring of the Big South Fork watershed will most likely leave you tired and in need of a pick-me-up. From Pickett, you can head out on a scenic drive through Scott State Forest to Oneida. There, in the heart of downtown, you’ll find Gather Coffee Lounge

This local favorite cafe offers all the “big-city” options in espresso drinks, bakery items, and food, with a small-town, intimate feel. Owners Scott and Kristin McNamara opened the coffee shop to serve as a local social hub for the area’s residents; now locals and tourists alike enjoy Gather’s delicious fare and cozy atmosphere. 

Grab a latte and a freshly-baked vegan pastry, then hang out for a while before heading out for the rest of your day’s journey.

Image courtesy of Michael Allen Smith

Tour Historic Rugby
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Historic Rugby

1331 Rugby Pkwy, Rugby, TN 37733

Another local gem close to the Big South Fork watershed is the historic town of Rugby, TN. Located just outside the bounds of the Big South Fork National Recreation Area, Rugby was established as a colony by author Thomas Hughes in the late 19th century. Today, Historic Rugby is preserved as a living Victorian village, giving visitors a glimpse into its English origins. 

Start at the Visitors’ Centre to find more information on the town’s history and heritage. Then, take a guided tour or walk around solo to the picturesque buildings, finding yourself immersed in a Dickens-era atmosphere. A number of Rugby’s historic buildings are still open to the public to explore, including a library, schoolhouse, and church. If you’re looking to extend your trip, you may consider spending a night in one of the several historic cottages available for rental.

The citizens of Rugby take great pride in their town’s roots and history, hosting a variety of traditions throughout the year that pay homage to their Victorian-era roots. Christmas at Rugby turns the town into a festive oasis during the holiday season, while tea parties throughout the year bring a posh sentiment to the Tennessee town. If you find yourself in Rugby during the summer months, be sure to participate in a Saturday evening game of Irish Road Bowling. It is what it sounds like- participants roll a metal bowling ball straight down the middle of the Rugby Parkway, making for great fun and memories.

Image courtesy of Gary Dicer

Chow Down at Phillip’s Drive In
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Phillip’s Drive In

18499 Alberta St, Oneida, TN 37841

If you’ve probably worked up an appetite from all your travels, head into Oneida for lunch at Phillip’s Drive In.

This mom-and-pop shop has been in business for over half a century, serving up chicken, burgers, pizza, and other fast-food fare since the 50s. Order from their retro-style menu board and indulge in some well-priced, delicious food. Local favorites include the “Jerryburger” cheeseburger and extra-cheesy pizza. Oh, and don’t leave without trying Phillip’s famous milkshakes- they are rumored to be the best around!

Image courtesy of Dani Baldwin

About This Guide

This guide was written in partnership with Tennessee State Parks.

There are more than 20 Tennessee State Parks within the Cumberland River Basin, each with their own unique history, features, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. All of these parks rely on clean water to support the humans and creatures that visit and call them home. The Cumberland River Compact has partnered with TN State Parks to bring you guides that highlight the best features of parks around the basin, along with the communities that surround them. We hope these guides will encourage you to support the vision of clean and abundant water for our Cumberland River Basin by visiting these parks whose vision is to protect and preserve the unique natural, cultural, and historic resources of Tennessee.