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802 Natural Bridge Trail
Pickett State Park

Under the Natural Bridge

Tuesday, I visited Pickett State Park in north-central Tennessee. The Park is located on the western border of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. My two big objectives were to hike the Hidden Passage Trail and then the Natural Bridge Trail and gather data to complete a revised map to the area.

After hiking Hidden Passage Trail (more on that trail soon - we are still working on the data), I started on the Natural Bridge Trail. A couple of years ago we walked the Natural Bridge Trail, but we did not venture on to all of the side trails that linked Natural Bridge Trail to Hazard Cave Trail.

The trail begins on the Park Road across from the Recreation Lodge. Immediately, there is a bit of confusion ... there are two Natural Bridge Trails. I started up the western most trail (next to the tennis courts), because it was the trail closest to where I parked.

One of the connector trails from the Natural Bridge Trail to Hazard Cave Trail

A short distance up the trail was the first of four junctions. A trail sign indicated to go right to Hazard Cave or left to Natural Bridge.

Over - Under junction

Following the signs to the Bridge, I passed another Hazard Cave Connector junction, and then came to the Over-Under Junction.

The Under trail alternative descends a bit and then climbs a drainage to reach the Natural Bridge from below. The Over alternative passes one more Hazard Cave Connector Junction and then wanders past a few exposed sections of rock before it loops around to reach the Natural Bridge from above.

Steps from HWY 154

Before reaching the actual bridge, steps lead to access the road - Hwy 154. A picnic table is near the parking area.

Steps connecting Under the Bridge to Over the Bridge

Turning a bit left at the road access steps the trail crosses a small boulder and then either goes left and descends steep stone steps to Under the Bridge or to the right to cross the Bridge.

Over the Natural Bridge

The boulder at the top of the picture is the start of the span. The descent gully (steps) is to the left of the boulder.

After crossing the Bridge it is an easy .45 mile to return to the Park Road/Recreation Lodge. The trail ends at the second trailhead a few hundred feet from the trail where I started my hike.

A few trail notes ...

The trail almost makes a loop - the two ends don't quite meet, but both are close to the Recreation Lodge.

The Park is well maintained.

All of the trails were in good shape and there was no litter.

The trail was easy to follow. I did however meet a hiker who had hiked the Natural Bridge Trail and then connected with the Hazard Cave Trail. On reaching the Cave Trail he must have turned right instead of left. I met him near the start of the Hazard Cave Trail (near the picnic area). He could not figure out how he missed the Cave. After a bit of head scratching, he headed back up the trail. I saw him later in the day and he was glad he went to the Cave.

Once at the Natural Bridge it is fun to go Under and Over the span.

Under the Bridge is a great place to rest and there is even a bench.

The steps connecting the Under to the Over are steep, but not overly difficult. There were no handrails, but the passage was narrow and the rock walls were featured.

Use care crossing the span. The bridge is wide, but it is still good to remember to use care - especially for children and pets.

Warning - carving in rock, trees, etc ... all bring years of bad karma.

Natural Bridge Trail is a good family adventure. My mileage for the shortest version of the loop was less than a mile and the trail was not difficult.

The Natural Bridge is a natural wonder.

Happy Natural Bridge trails

current cloudhiking map - under revision


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