An adventurous hike through a dense cypress swamp. Climb up the observation tower for a birds eye view over the trees.

Civil War history buffs may find themselves near the tiny town of Shiloh, Tennessee. While in the area be sure to explore Big Hill Pond State Park, in nearby Pocahontas, and hike Dismal Swamp.

After a night at the park's campground I drove a couple of miles on well-graded gravel road to the trailhead. Be sure to stop at the Visitor Center to get a map as trail junctions in the park aren't well marked.

My chosen loop - Turkey Call Trail - took me over the Dismal Swamp's impressively long boardwalk and up a metal observation tower for 360 degree views above the trees.

Dismal Swamp is a dense cypress wetland. It's eerily quiet, lending credence to it's grandiose name. I didn't see any mythical creatures, but I did gingerly step over a fat gray rat-snake lounging on the boardwalk.

After the boardwalk the trail winds through the woods before climbing a small hill to the Observation Tower. Huff it up the Tower's long series of stairs for a panoramic, above-the-treetops view of the nearby hills and lakes.

The trail descends before a short jaunt over an earthen dam back to the trailhead.

Big Hill Pond's campground is excellent, featuring re-built campsites and clean bathrooms with showers. Bring your hammock and bug spray.

Tip: do not follow Google Map's directions to the park, as it takes you to an access road closed for 20 years. A nice Tennessian flagged me down and got me moving in the right direction. The entrance is on Route 57 (not Wolf Pen Road). 

Pack List

  • Hiking map (pick up at visitor center)
  • Bug spray
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RT Distance 3.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 400 Feet
Activities Photography, Running, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
Scenic

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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