Big Ridge State Park rests on the southern shore of Norris Lake, an impoundment of the Clinch River created by the completion of Norris Dam in 1936. Much of the park's recreational focus centers around the 49-acre Big Ridge Lake where you can enjoy sand volleyball, tennis, horseshoe, basketball and softball. Recreational equipment may be checked out at the park office at no charge. The park's sandy beach is a popular swimming area in summer months. Seasonal Interpretive Rangers provide free weekly activities during the summer months including guided hikes, movies, campfires, arts and crafts, nature programs, and organized sports activities.
Bicycling: Within the park, bicycles are allowed on the paved roads only, but there are miles of less-traveled country roads surrounding the park that can provide hours of scenic riding for the road enthusiast.
Camping: The Park maintains a 50-site campground, 19 rustic cabins, and a large group camp area. For overnight backcountry camping, there are three designated campsites. Backcountry camping is free, but a permit is required. Leashed pets are allowed, but no pack animals.
Fishing: Enjoy lake fishing year round along the shoreline of this 49-acre lake with the exception of the swimming beach. There are a variety of fish on the lake, including bluegill, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and crappie. The boat ramp at the park is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Visitors may use their own electric trolling motors on park rowboats but gasoline outboards are not allowed on Big Ridge Lake.
Hiking: Over 15 miles of hiking-only trails wind along the Park's ridges and hollows, over old roadbeds, alongside the lakeshores, and beside cemeteries and remnants from early settlements. The park's most prominent historical features are: the Norton Gristmill built in 1825, now mostly a replica but the original mill race and millstones remain; Indian Rock where a plaque marks the site of the 1794 ambush of Peter Graves; a small monument at Lon Sharp Cemetery recalls the 18th-century Sharp's Station believed to have been located near the cemetery; and the Norton Cemetery which houses the grave of Maston Hutcheson (1826–1910), who according to local lore is responsible for hauntings in the area. A few minor remains of Hutcheson's house are still visible at the junction of the Ghost House Loop Trail and the Big Valley Trail connector.
Paddling: While private boats are not allowed on the spring-fed lake within the park, rental canoes, paddleboats and rowboats are available during the summer months. Paddlers can access the boat ramp at Norris Lake on the western section of the park, just past the park entrance. There is no access during the winter months due to the lake's low water level.
Park Size: 3,687 acres
Natural Trail: 15 miles
Difficulty: easy to moderate
1015 Big Ridge Road, Maynardville
Directions: From I-75 take exit 122/Hwy 61 east for approximately 12 miles. Park entrance will be on the left.
State Park Website
State Park Brochure