The heavily forested, 3,687-acre park is located in the Appalachian Ridge and Valley range, characterized by narrow ridges flanked by fertile stream valleys. Big Ridge State Park’s topography is dominated by three of these ridge systems giving the area its beautiful lake and scenery.
The park is home to a variety of activities for the whole family. Big Ridge State Park consists of more than 15 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy to very rugged. You can hike along dry ridges, lush hollows, old roadbeds, lakeshores and beside cemeteries and remnants of early settlements. The park has 50 campsites on or near Norris Lake to accommodate RV’s, trailers and tent campers. Each site offers amenities such as water, 50-amp electrical hookups and a picnic table with a grill. There is a group camp that accommodates up to 120 people with 18 screened-in bunkhouses. There are three backcountry campsites that are hike-in only.
Big Ridge State Park was one of five demonstration parks developed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as an example of public recreation development along TVA lakeshores. The structures on the park reflect the craftsmanship and stonework of the CCC. Along the trails, you may see remnants of the homes and farms that existed here prior to the birth of the TVA.
The park’s recreational activities are not limited to hiking or camping. There is a sandy beach next to Big Ridge Lake which provides swimming enjoyment equipped with a concrete-bottomed area for children. The park also offers sand volleyball, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a basketball court, and a softball field. Big Ridge State Park has a wheelchair accessible playground adjacent to the park office offering play experience for children of all ages and abilities.
Big Ridge Lake is a great place to explore by canoe or kayak or just enjoy a relaxing paddle. Bring your own or rent one of ours. SUPs and tandem kayaks are also available. The boat dock is open seasonally from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Rowboat rentals are available on the 49-acre Big Ridge Lake. Fishing boats, ski boats, and wave runners can be launched at the boat ramp on Norris Lake just outside the park entrance drive.
A sandy beach next to Big Ridge Lake provides swimming enjoyment from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily. An enclosed, concrete-bottomed area is provided for children. Swimming is free of charge. There are no lifeguards on duty, therefore swimming is at your own risk.
Over 15 miles of hiking trails travel along dry ridges, lush hollows, old roadbeds, lakeshores and beside cemeteries and remnants of early settlements. Trails range from easy to very rugged. Free trail maps are available at the park office. Trails are open year round and overnight camping is allowed on designated backcountry campsites. Reservations are required.
Big Ridge Lake (49-acre) provides good fishing year round for bass and bream.
Bald eagles, herons, and kingfishers can be seen on the lakes as well as many species of waterfowl during the winter.
BIG RIDGE CAMPGROUND
Big Ridge has 50 campsites on or near Norris Lake to accommodate RV’s, trailers, and tent campers. RV campsites have a paved slip and a soft gravel pad and can accommodate a unit up to 35 feet. Each site has water and 50-amp electrical hookups, picnic table and grill. A dumping station is provided, as well as three bathhouses with restrooms and hot shower facilities. Bathhouses #2 and #3 are closed during the off-season from November 1 to March 31.
Firewood is sold onsite and the camp store is open seasonally.
Big Ridge State Park has over 15 miles of hiking trails with 3 designated backcountry campsites. Hiking is required to reach all the backcountry campsites. The mileage is listed in the description, as is the group size accommodation. No hiking is allowed after dark so, please allow plenty of time for hiking. Each site has a designated fire spot with a rock fire ring but no grill grate. Plan your water needs in advance. Water must be treated, filtered, boiled, and or carried in, and your needs change according to the weather and personal requirements.
Free trail maps are available at the park office with backcountry campsites locations mapped out. Trails are open year-round and backcountry camping must have a reservation to stay. Please carry your receipt with you because your reservation receipt is your permit.