Hidden Passage

  • Highlights: Rock formations, streams, waterfalls, rock scrambles
  • Distance: 8.6 mile loop 
  • Elevation Change 944 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with several rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: TN 154, Pickett Park Hwy, Pickett CCC Memorial State Park, Jamestown, TN
  • Trail Markings: Green blazes (white blazes on rocks in the passage) and trail signs at junctions
  • Website: AllTrails and Pickett State Park
  • Beer Pairings: Charit Creek Lodge—BFB IPA & Dirty South Trail Ale

Trail Map:

The Hike:

Northeastern Tennessee has some amazing sandstone rock formations. This hike in Pickett CCC Memorial State Park gives hikers a close-up view of some incredible geology—sandstone bluffs, caverns, and a small stone arch. From the parking area, follow the green blazes. In .5 miles, reach the junction of the loop, we opted to bear right (counterclockwise) to see the cool stuff first. It’s a loop so you can go either way. The Hidden Passage is just past the loop junction on the left. Pass through the stone arch to explore the passage.

The trail continues as you exit the passage. On the right is a short unmarked spur to Crystal Falls. Sandstone bluffs, rock houses, and boulder jumbles appear one after another. Look for white blazes to help navigate through some of the bounder mazes. This area is home to the Cumberland Sandwort, a small plant found only in the Cumberland Plateau of TN and KY. 

The trail passes over a ridge line and reaches Thompson Overlook with some of the best views on this hike. A short section of the trail skirts around a group campsite and cabins before returning to the hardwood forest. At the junction, bear right to return to the parking area.

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. We were staying at Charit Creek Lodge, http://www.ccl-bsf.com/ which 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. 

Pete really liked Dirty South Trail Ale (5.4% ABV • 28 IBU), from Albright Grove Brewing in Knoxville TN. Brewed with Loral, Mosaic, and Cascade hops Dirty South is a crisp, easy drinking post-hike beer. Kathy enjoyed several cans of BFB IPA (7.1% ABV • 60 IBU) from Blackberry Farm Brewery in suburban Knoxville. This unfiltered IPA is neither west or east coast—it’s just good beer. 

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