The rolling hills are absolutely beautiful. The lake is amazing and the walking bridge and fire tower are just amazing. Great place to visit.
While out driving we decided to stop off to get my State Parks Passport stamped. It was about 2pm and we never saw a soul to ask where the office was. We met one car but it was moving fast and not about to stop and answer a question. I'm sure the park is a very nice place and probably very busy in the Summer but the fall day we were there it was very lonely.
Hi, Im Garron Carlin and Owner of Mosses Creek Wildlife Calls and I live about 3 miles from Big Hill Pond. My Dad, Johnny W. Carlin worked for TN Wildlife and State Parks for 33 years and he was the head designer of all the projects at the park as well as alot of other parks. He supervised a crew of men to help him with the work, everything from the boardwalks to the lookout tower and everything else! He said there are around 30 miles of trails on the park and the big boardwalk is a half mile long! Im thinking he told me that it took 18-18 wheeler loads of lumber to build the half mile boardwalk and they had school kids to help them with it during the summer. Im 28 now and when I got old enough to work he got me on with the state! My Dad, Johnny W. Carlin retired from the state on March 3, 2010 and he passed away on May 18, 2011. I REALLY miss my Dad, but I will ALWAYS remember ALL the great thing he showed me in life! Out of his 33 years he had 14 state trucks and put anywhere from 160,000 - 200,000 miles on each one of them going from park to park all over west tennessee. Just thought somebody would enjoy reading. Thanks, GARRON B. CARLIN - POCAHONTAS, TENNESSEE
I’ve heard this place was a must see: wilderness, boardwalks through swamps, watchtowers, etc. I’m sure they’re nice, but I couldn’t find them once I got there. We found a map, but it clearly wasn’t to scale. We couldn't even find a park ranger to help us. When you make a special trip only to spend your time looking for looking for the points of interest instead of enjoying them, that’s a mad killer. You may have better luck finding them, but I wasted a tank of gas.
I have been to Big Hill Pond State Park many times over the past 25 years. The park is tucked away and is unique. It is hardly ever busy and one of those places that you have to almost get lost to find.I went there this time, as always in the past, to to some hiking and backcountry camping. There are about twenty miles of trails that wind through the park's 5,000 acres. The terrain is hilly and most of the time the ground is very damp/muddy. There is a color map of the park trails at the park office. My advice is to take a picture of it with your phone to refer to later. On past trips the park has had paper trail maps that show the topographic lay out of the area but they were not to scale and very inaccurate. Park personel are hard to come by if you do have questions.There are four backcountry shelters (which are the only places that you are permitted to camp outside of the campground). They are first come, first serve. In the busier months this can be a problem. You hike to the shelter that you want and it is occupied and the next one is some distance away. The northern most shelter is the quickest to get to and the only one in decent (and I use that term loosely) shape. It is right on the lake and has sleeping for six people. The shelter has a screen door and window screens to keep out larger critters. You do need them in this park. When it gets dark, the raccoons come calling. None of the other shelters have screens or doors. This shelter comes with a family of mice at no extra charge. They were running all over the place. Last night I got some sugar covered peanuts out and put them at the opposite end of the shelter on the floor. The mice went to bed fat and happy all the while leaving my stuff alone.I have stayed in the other shelters and was kept up most of the night by raccoons and various other creatures trying to get into my equipment for food. The critters do not bother me personally-I just don't want them chewing a hole in my stuff sacks or my Gregory Baltoro backpack!Tuscumbia Bend shelter is the most remote in the park. It is at the southwest corner of the property and borders a huge swamp. If cypress chutes and swampy foliage is your thing, then this is a good place for photography and exploration. There is a stream right next to the shelter and the swamp is due south. A word of caution about getting to this shelter...The trail systems in the park are not well maintained. Know for sure where you are going before you head out that way. The Tuscumbia Bend Shelter has some newer signs up here and there that point the general direction, but the trail system still makes it difficult to find. The last time I went to this shelter, it looked as if it had not been visited/found in years. Yeasterday there was a new sign up about 1/5 of a mile from it.There is a cool lookout tower in the southern central part of the park with good views into Mississippi and a paper mill in the distance. There is a half mile long boardwalk that crosses a swamp on the way to the tower. Watch your step as the wood stays wet, slick, and is rotted in places. The park's solution to not losing visitors to a fall through the boardwalk is to place chicken wire across the boards. There are some very pretty cypress trees through here.At the southern end of the park is a railroad track that runs east/west. South of this is a loop trail that has two shelters on it. Neither shelter is in good shape, has a view (except of close trees), or a water supply close by. Both shelters are on hilltops and there is a river that comes within a half mile of both of them. You will definately need your water filter. There are a lot of weeds and swamp grass where the shoreline is so actually getting to the water is a challenge. At night there are trains that come by about every 45 mins. Even though the tracks are over a mile away, there is a roar and horn blowing that breaks the sounds of the forrest. Personally, I think that they sound cool. The sounds are kind of eerie as they echo through the hills.If you park at the backpacker's parking by the boat ramp/campground area, you can hike through the trail system to the southern most shelter in about two hours.That is it in a nutshell. The place is decent, especially for West Tennessee which is not exactly known for it's fine hiking or camping destinations. This is a good place to hit occassionally on the weekends to get your camping/hiking fix in between bigger trips.
I went to the park a few weeks ago to go hiking to the watch tower, but the bridge was in really bad shape. We tried to walk around it or climb over it, but even my 16 yr old nephew wasn't able too. So stay clear of the bridge. It's a nice hike in through the woods. And it's a good quiet place for a cook out. We have done family reunions there with alot of success.
I go there sometimes to visit my great-grandfather's grave site. He fought for the Union Army in the civil war. He was a prisoner of war at Andersonville for a time, then released before the war was over. He always wanted to be buried high on the hill there, and so he was, a long time before it became a national park. Mostly the family knows where the grave is, so as not to disturb it. I am very proud to be his great-grand daughter. God rest your soul.
There was a group of 10 of us that went to the park to ride horses. We had a great time. There is a lot of area and trails in the woods to adventure. There were several creeks and lots of hills for the horses to climb. We packed our lunch in the saddlebags. We rode until lunch then stopped for a nice picnic. I would highly reccommend this park of you want to have a fun filled day of horseback riding. The scenery is beautiful.
Big Hill Pond has been going through so upgrading on the bridges with new wood. The bridge across Dismal Swamp has been updated with new wood and safe to cross. I hiked up to the Tower and took lunch with me. I saw approximately 6 people and none on the tower. Tennessee State Parks are offering free guided hikes at each of the 54 state parks on March 22. Now is the time to find out what hiking is all about. For a short hike you can park at the levee parking and be at the tower within a half hour or so.
Big Hill Pond is a great hikers park, allowing visitors to walk through the woods, along the bottom lands of a nearby river, and climb to the top of an old fire tower for a birds-eye view. This park, however, is not for the casual drive-by tourist. And once you leave the park office area, the roads are mainly gravel, narrow and steep. Big Hill Pond is about 5,000 acres of western Tennessee timber lands and hardwood bottom lands, along Cypress Creek and the Tuscumbia River. There are oxbow lakes within the park, and there is nice fishing. On a historical note, a burrow pit for a railroad placed in the area in the 1800s helped create what was then just a big 35-acre pond. Over time cypress and other trees grew up around the pond. This area, along with other water sites, were eventually incorporated into the park. There is also a Union Civil War earthwork still visible, but only with a hike, that guarded the old railroad. A railroad still runs through the park, and you will have to cross it to get to the Civil War site. The observation tower is 70 feet high, requiring a nice climb, and if you pull a boat to the park's main lake, please note it is a steep ramp you will have to unload from. I found it to be a nice park, but be prepared to walk a good distance from your car in order to be able to really enjoy it.