Hazard Cave and Natural Bridge Loop

  • Highlights: Rock formations, cave, natural bridge, wildflowers, rare plants and insects
  • Distance: 2.3 mile loop 
  • Elevation Change 265 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with some rocks 
  • Difficulty Level: Easy-Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: Picnic Road, Pickett CCC Memorial State Park, Jamestown TN
  • Trail Markings: Red blazes on Natural Bridge, white blazes on Hazard Cave, signs at junctions
  • Website: AllTrails and Pickett State Park 
  • Beer Pairings: Charit Creek Lodge—Green Man ESB & Einstök Toasted Porter

Trail Map:

The Hike:

This hike combines two of the park’s best short hikes into a fun loop. The trailhead is located near the Recreation Hall. Begin on the white-blazed Hazard Cave trail and enter the hardwood forrest. Pass a wood and stone bridge built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s—the park honors the young men and women who built this park and countless other parks throughout the US. The trail winds through a hardwood forest and enters a small gorge as you climb up to the cave opening. 

Full disclosure: Hazard Cave is technically not a cave. Geologists call it a rock house or rock shelter. Regardless of its geological classification, the “cave” is pretty cool. Its home to the rare Cumberland Sandwort, a small plant that thrives in sandstone cliffs and rock houses in the Cumberland Plateau of TN and KY. Hazard Cave is also home to glow worms—insect larvae of the fungus gnat (Ofelia fultoni). From mid-May through early July, the glow worms light up the inside of the cave. These worms are found nowhere else on earth.

Continue on the white-blazed trail as it climbs up to the junction with the red-blazed Natural Bridge trail. Bear right and the trail will split as you reach the Natural Bridge. Stay straight to see the top of the bridge and then climb down to the left to see the bridge from the bottom. The sandstone bridge spans 86 feet in length and 35 feet high. Not bad by east coast standards. Continue on the Natural Bridge trail to return to the trailhead.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

This hike is in a remote section of northeast TN near the Big South Fork National Recreation Area. The nearest brewery is well over an hour away. Bring a cooler with a few cold ones or consider a short hike to Charit Creek Lodge. The Lodge is about 20 minutes from the trailhead (plus a nice 1.2 mile hike to the lodge). Charit Creek Lodge provides rustic, hike-in lodging, meals, and they sell a nice selection of cold craft beer in cans. 

Einstök Toasted Porter (6.0% ABV) is brewed in Iceland with Bavarian Northern Brewer hops and  Icelandic roasted coffee. The coffee and toasted malts produce an excellent porter with notes of chocolate, toffee, and licorice. Green Man Brewery in Asheville NC has long been one of our favorites and Kathy was elated to see Green Man ESB (5% ABV) on the beer menu. Our go to beers in England are always the extra special bitters. ESB is brewed with British malts and hops and has a nutty aroma, full body, and sweet finish.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.