An escape into the east Tennessee mountains isn’t far away, as Frozen Head State Park in Morgan County is approximately one hour from the Cumberland County Courthouse. Frozen Head is known for its dense forest, mountainous terrain, running creeks and a wide offering of camping options.
Classified as a state natural area in 1988, Frozen Head contains some of the highest peaks in Tennessee west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Frozen Head is a short drive from both the city of Wartburg and newly-opened Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary and its End of the Line Distillery.
In the park itself, a creek and dense forest greet visitors at the entrance. The visitor’s center, a playground, picnic areas, and campground are all accessible off the main road.
Frozen Head’s campground offers 20 primitive campsites at the Big Cove camping area and at camping sites along Flat Fork Road, with rates starting at $15 per night. Backcountry camping is available with 10 designated campsites starting at just $8.
Along with camping, Frozen Head offers pavilions for rent starting at $40. The pavilions are ideal for hosting birthday parties, family reunions, and more.
Frozen Head offers multiple events that the public can participate in, including Yoga With a Ranger on July 6, Astronomy From the Tower on July 20, and the Civilian Conservation Corps History Hike on July 27.
At Frozen Head, visitors can find approximately 80 miles worth of hiking trails. Most trails are only open to hiking, but the Lookout Tower Trail is open to biking.
The state park also features Emory Gap Falls and Debord Falls, two waterfalls over 10 feet.
Frozen Head is also home to the world-famous Barley Marathons, a 100-mile, 60-hour marathon through the park that only 15 people have ever finished.
The Barkley Marathon is based on the path that James Earl Ray took through what is now Frozen Head after he infamously escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary for three days.
The highest peak in the park is the summit of Frozen Head, standing at 3,324 ft. Other major mountains in the park include Chimney Top Mountain (3,120 ft), Bird Mountain (3,142 ft), Old Mac Mountain (3,132 ft) and Mar Fields (3,132 ft). Frozen Head connects to Brushy Mountain as well.
From Crossville, those looking to visit Frozen Head have two options. The quickest and shortest of the two is to take Genesis Rd. to Highway 62 East, and follow Highway 62 to Flat Fork Rd, where the park is located.
The second option is to take I-40 east to Harriman, then follow Highway 27 North to Flat Fork Rd.