Frozen Head State Park, TN, USA

7:27 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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It’s been a busy spring and hard to make time to break away for the passion, but even though I only had Friday night after work and a long Saturday to use, I went to a place I hadn’t been in some time: Frozen Head State Park. It’s a relatively small park (13K acres) but has 13 peaks high enough to offer some exercise (up to 3000 ft +) and quite a few fun trails.







 I began trekking in a steady drizzle from a trailhead parking lot in the center of the park. My goal was to make a campsite known as “Chimney Tops” before dark (a bit of a push given that I had a 1 hour fifteen minute drive after work) It was just too warm for a rain jacket (mid 70ies) so I used an umbrella. I wore the Marmot Precip pants but might as well have not bothered. I sweated so much I was soaked beneath the pants anyway. I miss the winters cold temps already. I think high thirties to low forties is ideal hiking weather.







 The trail was punctuated by neat rock formations like this one.







 And this one.








 The ridge line across the valley would be on the next day’s route.








 Here was the official Chimney Top campsite. I had read that the site was under a rock overhang and was looking forward to sleeping with no tent.

 But I could not find a really dry spot to lie. There were big drips perfectly placed sp as to keep a person from lying in a comfortable position. And if I were going to pitch the tent I may as well find a better spot.








 I wondered if I could get up there on top of the chimney.








 Why, yes I could. Was there a level enough spot to pitch my little tent?








 Yep, there was. Although I had to groom the spot carefully (lots of little pokey things waiting to penetrate my floor).










 My higher perch offered nice sunset views that I enjoyed after being chased in by the rain for a while. (rained most of the evening really)








 I woke up in the middle of the night realizing I forgot to hang my food. So I went out to do it in the dark foggy rain. A hasty job as it were.








 The next day I awoke to a dense fog on my chimney top roost. Unfortunately most of my morning pics are too foggy to show.








 Still foggy but this was a giant rock Sponge Bob about to pounce.










 Some cool flora and fungi.










 This was a neat campsite I passed after a while….Mart Field camp if you ever come here and want to find it.








 Some fine “bear corn”.








 Cool stuff.








 I had reached the Fire Tower and found this surprise cache of gallon jugs presumably full of water and a book in a baggie. Curious…..I later learned that a 100 mile adventure race was taking place at that time and these accoutrements were part of the race. It’s called a Barkley Marathon. I passed five runners later it the day that all thought I was in the race and wondered how I got ahead of them. Funny stuff.








 This was a view from the tower where I stopped to change in to some dry socks and consume first lunch. The ridge is what I had just hiked across that morning.








 Here was another nice campsite I passed named “Tub Springs”. The spring didn’t look all that special to me and I was glad I had filled up at Mart Field before getting there.








 And some distance later here was “Panther Gap Rock House”. This one was big enough to actually camp under, although there were some drips. That is a table in the back (about elbow height to me..,for scale)








 At the next trail junction I decided to take a detour down the ominously named “Coffin Springs” trail and discovered that I had been in a ‘Class II Natural Area”. Hmm, not sure I was authorized for such, lol.








 Here was Coffin Spring and until seeing it in person never knew the significance of said handle. Well that didn’t take much imagination to name I guess. Some years ago I met on area old timer that told me this was the best tasting water he ever drank. I was still full of water from earlier and didn’t want to empty out to try it. Probably should have.








 The hot March was really messing with the wild flowers. This painted trillium was so early.








 Some miles later this was looking back across to the ridge I hiked the evening before.








 This picture didn’t turn out like I hoped. I was barefoot and trying to turn and pose for the camera but nearly fell instead. So smooth.








 And I’ll end with a nice new growth forest shot taken just before looping back in to the realm of the day hiker.

This is a fine little park and worthy of a visit if you’re close. There are many more beautiful trails, waterfalls and rock formations to see than I’ve shown here.

Hope you enjoyed the report and Happy Trails!


7:44 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Fiddleheads and Rock Tripe and Squaw Root. 

Just think, I've been hiking in Class 3 natural areas for years and you've only reached Class 2!  All I can say is, keep at it and you may reach the next level or maybe Class 4.

I don't even know where Frozen Head SP is.  Are there really several 3,000 foot climbs?  I always like hiking past big rocks formations.

8:04 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Lol....I may never reach class 3 at this rate


nah, no sinlge 3000 ft climbs ....many 3000 foot peaks..the lowest spot in the place is 1340 feet and highest possible peak is 3324 feet. but the route that I did Friday night up the Cminey top trail actually had about 2700 feet of gain (up and down twice) over 3.5 it adds up!


oh ....Frozen Head is up on the Cumberland Plateu west of Big Sorth Fork and such. Actually one of the closest places to me in Knoxville (75 minutes driving) with good backpacking areas.


8:56 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Nice report.  This is a great little park: well maintained trails and not many people get into the backcountry (I think the prison scares them away!).  I've day hiked there several times, but your report makes me want to hit it for a weekend.  

9:00 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Nice. Looks kinda soggy. The rocks that way kinda look like the ones we have here. Coffin Spring looks cool.

Brings back memories of a spring up behind my buddies house. It looked like that. He kept tellin me it was good stuff but it had a smell to it.

Ended up being Egg Water.

Nice umbrella by the way. ;)

9:37 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey thanks Whib. Yeah being tucked away behind the prison is possibly a factor for the low backcountry use! The whole thing is a bit hidden. I believe some prison labor was used in the construction of some of the trails, no joke. 



Nah, that water was good, I just didn't need any.


Egg Water? yuk,  man

9:39 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Yeah, it was some funky stuff. I remember he brought a Mason Jar of it to show and tell. Man when he cracked that lid...


10:42 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Nice TR Patman. Love the first foggy photo and the last one.

11:42 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Yeah, nice.  I, too, liked the "fog on chimney top" shot--good stuff!

2:40 a.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Like that umbrella. An ice cooler in the other hand with a steak inside and a few ice cubes for the bourbon, and you the complete camper! 

All kidding aside it is so much less sweaty using an umbrella in the rain, allowing hiker to open the rain suit up or even shed parts of it.  Summer hikes I just kike the rain under an umbrella in my t shirt, shorts and boots.  Much more comfortable.  My socks get wet, but I have spare dry ones. 


3:09 a.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Yep it looks like spring has sprung. I must be way down on the list, Ive never even seen a sign for a class 1 wilderness. (seriously, whats a class II wilderness? Guess I need to look it up)

Nice TR, Thanx

8:26 a.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks guys!

  Ed, yeah I've found no way to really stay dry out there. Might as well be comfortable right?


The Natural Area Classification is a TN thing. Tennessee passed a Natural Areas Preservation act in 1971 to govern the areas. I actually have never found a list of the classifications (I’m sure it’s out there somewhere), but each class specifies certain guidelines (or restrictions) concerning the protection of natural resources. I think presently TN has 82 State Natural Areas (many are little jewels to hike in like Frozen Head).

8:53 a.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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So have you eaten any of three things you listed? All three are supposed to be edible. The fiddle heads require boiling, rock tripe could eaten raw as could the Squaw Root (bear corn). Here is the only time I’ve seen someone eat bear corn: Man Woman Wild show in the Smokies. Forward to about 24:07 to see them eat the Squaw Root

10:03 a.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Fiddleheads are edible but only when in the fiddle phase.  Rock tripe should never be eaten raw but soaked in cold water for a couple hours and the water drained and then cooked.  It contains "rock eating acids" which can be leached away.  I never knew Squaw root to be edible so I have to do more checking. 

Grazing works good while backpacking and my current favorites are violets (several varieties) and chickweed and maybe Indian cucumber root.  Of course there's always RAMPS!

11:28 a.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Ah ok, thanks for the info on the tripe, I was confused about that one.


RAMPS!!?? the last time I ate one on the trail I tasted it for two days. Everything I ate had a "hint-o-ramp" after that. ramp-oatmeal, ramp-hummus, ramp-protien bar, whew. They are good but they need an "off" switch.... 

12:21 a.m. on April 4, 2012 (EDT)
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there is a state park called "FROZEN HEAD"?you'd think there would be a frozen ass before frozen head?i will remember the name of that state park!   DISNEY?

7:15 p.m. on April 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Great pics and thanks for posting!

So cool that you were there Barkley weekend!


10:24 p.m. on April 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey Pat, another wonderful report, my friend. All those foggy photos are tops. 

You had my rolling with your Ramps conversation!  Ramp-O-Meal, Hahahahaha! I haven't tried them yet, as I really dislike raw onion. Sauteed onion, however, I LOVE. So maybe I will try cooking a few up sometime. 

10:25 p.m. on April 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace, Ayla!

8:52 a.m. on April 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks All…

Ayla can you tell us anymore about the Barkley? Are you an adventure racer? The only web page I found about it pretty much said you had to talk to someone who participated to find out more….very mysterious….lol

May 27, 2018
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