View Full Version : Birchfield Camp Lake/ Rocky Fork State Park

The Cleaner
12-06-2016, 09:07
From Nov. 21st to 24th I hiked up from USFS Horsecreek Campground via Middle Spring Ridge trail to the almost dry Birchfield Camp lake.The state of TN now has an official web page for TN's new 55th State Park.There is a map available to download but you'll still need a USGS map or GPS loaded with that or similar info.The website list many rules and the 1st one is "No Camping" allowed within the 2200 acre SP but the Rocky Fork tract is 10,000 acres which leaves plenty of good camping spots.On night one leaving just after lunch,I camped on the narrow Middle Spring Ridge trail only 3 steep miles up with a heavy pack with water for a day and a half.Here is is my tent set up right on the trail since it was the only level spot available.37301 Here are a few pics on the way up.3730237303 On night one about 11pm a bear came right by my tent.I heard something moving around my tent but by the time I got my DW tent doors opened I could hear him galloping away.The next morning I saw fairly large tracks in a patchh of frost heave a little ways above my campsite.Here are some pics just above camp 1.373043730537306 Just above the open spot pictured here you will come to the junction on the old forest roads which lead to the lake and other points in Rocky Fork.Turn right toward the gate and you will be going up to Buzzard Rock and the AT or hang left and follow the road towards the lake and other turn offs.None of these are marked but it's pretty easy to follow provided you have a map that shows which way to go at intersecting forest roads.These roads are little traveled and there is a gate at the entrance to Rocky Fork SP just above Flag Pond TN.373073730837309 The last pic here shows Frozen Knob through the trees which is only a few hours away on the forest road.Hiking the old road there is nice affording views of the forest and surrounding high country.In about 3731037311373123731330 minutes you will pass the 1st of 2 water sources as you head toward the lake.After taking a wrong turn,I had to backtrack about a half mile before finally arriving at the "lake".373143731537316 As you can see the "lake" is way down and might take several months until it fills up a bit and look's more like a lake than what I found.37317 This pic is the "official" lake side campsite as I found a fire ring there and room for several tents.Due to the campfire ban,I didn't spend any time gathering wood and got my tent set up. On the start of day 3 I had coffee in my tent till I warmed up and got out to cook breakfast and pack up.My GPS showed 11 miles from Horsecreek and I had to backtrack some to head up to Buzzard Rock and the AT.Also the smoke was back from forest fires many miles away37318373193732037321 After a little backtracking I arrived at Buzzard Rock to diminished views due to the smoke.Normally you can see I-26 from here but not today.373223732337324 After a quick lunch I headed up to the trails's end in the old field called the "Ball Ground" and the junction with the AT's new relocation which takes the AT off of the old jeep road and heads down into Flint Gap from the north side.3732537326 From here it's only about 2 miles down to Jerry's Cabin shelter.I met 1 thru hiker past here but he didn't have much time to talk as he was trying to do a 28 mile day. Here's a pic of the meadow above the shelter and sunset at the shelter.3732737328 On Thanksgiving day I packed up and headed down the Jeep road down to my ride home and Thanksgiving Dinner with friends.These last few pics show a view of a screenshot of the ATTrail App on my iphone and a file photo of my GPS track after uploading it to my PC. I forgot to mention that 2 section hikers came into the shelter about 5pm.They cooked their dinner in the shelter then retired to their tent set up near the shelter.I only met 3 hikers on the whole trip and I have only met less than 5 hikers in the Rocky Fork area in 25 years of hiking there.There was not much trash at the shelter but the inside fireplace was full of rocks,green wood chunks and partially burned aluminum foil.I cleaned it up before leaving.37329 37330373313733237333 I had a nice time and now that it's rained almost 3+" here I may hike the 45 miles from Horsecreek to Erwin in a week or so.Happy Holidays to all and may see some of you on the trail sometime soon.

The Cleaner
12-06-2016, 09:22
I don't know what happened to the first few pics, so here are some of them.373343733537336373373733837339

12-06-2016, 18:41
thanks for the report and excellent beta on this little-hiked area. what's the story behind the lake, do you know?

The Cleaner
12-06-2016, 19:39
I think it was made by loggers when they were cutting timber there.They wanted some extra water in case of a forest fire.The forest roads there are really wide in some places and at one time there might have been houses built there.Rocky Fork is a pristine stream as there is no development at all in the watershed.I got this info from the RFSP webpage.

10-12-2017, 10:56
have you walked any of the other connector trails in this area? I was thinking about doing a loop up from Margarette Falls up to the AT (Bullen Hollow), and then down the AT to Buzzard Rock, and loop down on one of the connecting trails.... Maybe Sarvis Cove? Maybe Round Knob Road? Maybe Phillips Hollow? My map doesn't have Phillips Hollow connecting all the way to the AT, but I've read that it does, or used to, connect at Fox Cabin Gap.

The Cleaner
10-12-2017, 11:41
I've heard from a few local hikers that Phillip's Hollow trail is overgrown quite a bit just above the intersection with the Artie Hollow trail. Round Knob jeep road is now gated except for a few weeks during bear hunting season. Sarvis Cove trail received much needed new foot bed construction a few years ago and is in great shape. Horsecreek jeep road is only 4 miles down to the campground. About 3/4 of a mile north of the Horsecreek jeep road is the "Ball Ground" a large field where the new AT relocation leaves the old jeep road. Follow a faint trail through the field northwest and you will see the old dozer cut which goes across the Heath Bald there and leads you down to Buzzard Rock. Just below there the trail forks, with the left turn leading down the very nice Middle Spring Ridge trail to Horsecreek campground. Go right and you're on the Rocky Fork perimeter road heading towards Frozen Knob. There is a good spring about 1.5 miles from the intersection.

10-18-2017, 12:50
thanks so much for your reply. I think i'll just play it by ear and see how it goes. I have a lot of plan B options, which is nice. my trip's in a few weeks so, I'm assuming the overgrowth on those connector trails will have thinned out at least somewhat.

I appreciate your info on Buzzard Rock, as well. there's not a whole lot of info out there on Rocky Fork, since it hasn't been public for very long. it took some digging just to figure out where the overlook is on that ridgeline.