TN SP Mini-Tour: Cove Lake, Norris Dam, Cumberland Mtn, Edgar Evans, Burgess Fls

Discussion in 'Tennessee' started by stovepipe, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. stovepipe

    stovepipe New Member

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    Having pop-up fever but no pop-up (purchase coming this fall), I've been hitting some state parks and scouting campgrounds to determine where I want to take the kids (2 and 3 years old) as soon as we get it. The wife and I have spent a lot of time in Cherokee National Forest over the years, backpacking and hiking, but not much time at state parks. I spent some time at several recently and thought I'd share what I saw. This isn't terribly informative but maybe it could spark some dialog if others have been to these places too.

    First place we hit was Cove Lake State Park located just north of Knoxville on I-75 in Campbell County. We were impressed with the clean feel of the place. Nice rest rooms and a decent camping loop layout, although some of the sites are very close together. We ended up with one of the best sites there and put up our tents. Behind of the pad was a little mowed field (very private with trees surrounding it) that we had all to ourselves. Some of the sites are on the waterfront and all appeared to have hookups. There is an Olympic sized swimming pool and two playgrounds. There is also a pretty nice walking/biking trail too. This will likely be where our Maiden Voyage takes place as it's very close to us (Knoxville) and totally flat getting there (never towed anything before).

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    On July 4th, we headed over to Norris Dam State Park, one exit south of Cove Lake, for a picnic and to scout the campgrounds. We didn't tent camp this time but enjoyed spending the afternoon there. There are two campgrounds in the park, West and East. The west one was the better one in my opinion. It's in the higher elevation forested area and has a water tower in the middle of it. The sites are decently spaced, have hookups, and there are a lot of established trees for shade. I will definitely be bringing the family to this campground.

    The east campground (on the other side of the dam) wasn't very impressive. It was small and not very shaded. It did have a nice area for tent camping though. The park has an extensive series of hiking trails as well as some historical sites such as a grist mill that are interesting. It's a pretty area to explore. There did not appear to be any decent beach access though and even the hiking trails seemed to be up away from the lake (usually) on a sloping ridge. It does have what appears to be a nice pool.

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    One son and I made a brief stop at Cumberland Mountain State Park, just outside of Crossville, on our way to middle TN to see family. We only managed to see the campground so can't comment on anything else. The campground was huge and sprawling, had at least 4 very large loops with little roads interconnecting them. The bathrooms were, ok, nothing special. Reasonably clean but had large ants crawling around in there. About half of the sites had a good amount of space between them (for a state park), the other half were semi-sardine. Overall a pretty cool place to camp assuming the rest of the park is interesting which based on what I've read it is.

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    Next we hit Edgar Evans State Park north of Smithville. This is another fairly large park with quite a bit of things to do, especially if you like fishing and hiking. But, the camping situation here is strange and it's not a place I'd want to camp with small kids. The camping "pads" are actually decks built on the relatively steep slopes that go down to the lake. They are reinforced with steel and concrete apparently but it's a odd setup. There is barely enough room to park your vehicle and camper on there. Not sure how you'd stake a tent. There are rails around the decks but if a kid walks around the front edge they could definitely fall off the side. Here's a pic of a pop-up wedged in there:

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    Not my ideal camping setup, but I'm sure some would love it. I'd like to go back and hit those hiking trails sometime though. I also get the feeling that they have a history of people getting rowdy down there because I've never seen so many signs warning about the no alcohol policy. Seems to be a bit of paranoia about. Pretty nice picnic area near the Marina and an observation tower near the entrance.

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    The next day we drove over to Burgess Falls State Park just south of Cookville. It's a relatively small area with no campground but surprisingly beautiful. There is a hiking trail and a series of very nice waterfalls. My kids enjoyed the playground. It's a neat little place to stop by when you have an hour or two to kill.

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    Finally we went down to Ragland Bottom Recreational Area outside of Smithville on 70 east. There was a nice little lake beach area but the water level was lower than the sand so it was rocky and shelly. The campground was pretty decent. They had a sprawling shaded area for tent campers and what looked like a pretty decent area for hookup camping although the spots seemed close together. This would be an excellent place to camp if you like lake fishing. The campsites are virtually right at the shore. Of course if you have a boat, this would be a dream setup because the boat ramp is right there and the parking for trailers and such is very adequate.

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    Next up will be Rock Island and Fall Creek Falls State Parks! We have a relative that is a ranger a Rock Island and I've heard good things. Of course Fall Creek Falls is very popular so looking forward to checking that out. There are many great places to see in this state. We are lucky!
     

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