Rocky Fork State Park

Traveling the short trip up Rocky Fork Road, the parks namesake only a few feet away,with its abundant cascades and its awe inspiring beauty, quickly shows why so many took up the long and convoluted task of saving this marvelous place. It gets your attention very fast and keeps it throughout your visit. 

Rocky Fork State Park, the states 55th State Park, was so designated in 2012 the 75th year anniversary of state parks in Tennessee. This stunningly beautiful high elevation 2037 acre park was carved out of the 10,000 acre tract named after the cascade and boulder laden creek whose bed and tributaries form the collection points for the pristine watershed of this fabulous piece of land.

Long targeted by conservation groups for its ecological and environmental significance, the Rocky Fork tract became available for purchase in 2008 and through the efforts of leading conservation groups and a coalition of others including state and federal governments, and individuals who worked hard to see to it that this majestic property was saved for the enjoyment of all of us.

That enjoyment includes a fantastic trail system that leads to impressive vistas and destinations with wonderful bouldered streams, wild flowers, cliff formations, waterfalls, and a beautiful Appalachian Cove canopy in every direction along your way. Rocky Fork will be the only state park with access to the Appalachian Trail.

Wildlife abounds! With species such as the Yonahlasse Salamander, the Peregrine Falcon, the Saw-Whit Owl, native brook trout, and Bald Eagle, the park has no shortage of exciting sightings of rare wildlife  waiting for you. And with the Rocky Fork in the leading Black Bear sanctuary in the Appalachians outside the Great Smokies, a bear sighting just may be in the offing.

The park also has a historical element in that it and the surrounding tract was the site of a large scale logging operation in the 19th and early 20th century. This is certainly well documented and accounts for the strategically placed road system that makes moving through the park and onto trails a better experience.Also, the park has a significant historical site at Flint Creek. One of the culminating battles of the war with the Creek and Cherokee took place here on a cold and snowy day on January 10th,1789. Led by John Sevier (later to be Tennessee's first governor) and called the Battle of Flint Creek, it began in a 25 mile march in deep snow and  ended in a large number of casualties and a retreat from the Cherokee encampment near the confluence of Flint Creek and Rocky Fork.

Rocky Fork State Park is new, it's raw with architecturally beautiful buildings and infrastructure coming soon, and it is gorgeous. The history of the saving of this magnificent property is very compelling and it's now a permanent part of our stewardship. We would love for you to visit and learn firsthand of this beautiful place.

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Location

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Nearby
Latitude: 36.044014 Longitude: -82.555525 Elevation: 2390 ft

Recreational Opportunities

Major activities in the park are hiking, biking, and fishing. Currently a number of special events are planned throughout the year. Ranger led hikes to the parks outstanding destinations, nature photography sessions, snorkeling, storytelling are just a few of the activities. Check the website and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/RockyForkStateParkTn/?fref=ts) for events, information, and times. 

Seasons Accessible

Rocky Fork State Park is open year round from sunrise till sunset.

ADA Accessibility Notes

Rocky Fork State Park is a new park. Plans are to have ADA compliance in its buildings and restroom facilities. The 1.1 mile trail to the Flint Creek Battle site will be handicapped accessible and will include a bridge that will be ADA compliant.

Pet Friendly Notes

Rocky Fork State Park is a pet friendly park. Pets need to be on a leash and must not be left unattended. Check for specific policies on the state parks website.

How to Get There

Rocky Fork State Park is located in Flag Pond, Tennessee about 40 miles north of Asheville, North Carolina and 30 miles from Johnson City, Tennessee. I-26 is the major connecting highway between the two cities. RFSP is a short distance from I-26.

DIRECTIONS:

From the I-26 Welcome Center at Exit 46: Follow the welcome center access road approximately .2 miles to where it dead ends at Clear Branch Road. Turn right and drive .7 miles. Turn left onto TN-352 and drive 2.7 miles to Rocky Fork Road on your right. Follow Rocky Fork Road about 1 mile to the parking area.

From I-26 Exit 43: Take the exit to US 19-W south for approximately 1.1 miles. Make a slight right onto TN-352W. Go approximately 4.8 miles and turn right onto Rocky Fork Road.

Comments

Drove approximately 350 miles round trip to experience this new state park without much research beforehand. Did print out a trailmap, and off we went (11/4/2017). Having driven through the area last weekend, I knew the colors would be near peak for prime viewing. Did not disappoint. We arrived approximately at 1:30, and after a quick lunch, started up the Rocky Fork Trail. Looking at the printed map, decided to do the White Cliffs Trail as they was the quickest way to get high enough for an overview of the whole park and surrounding area. Not a bad hike to the hike, but the remainder to the top is steep and strenuous. Once reached, it did not disappoint. Wonderful view of I-26 and its climb to the NC border, and of the park. The trees were on fire, and was a fantastic experience til the rain set in. Coming off the knob, in the pouring rain, got off the path, and hit a spur ridge instead of the gap, after getting our bearings, was able to cut across til we got back on our original path. Seriously, it happened that quick, so don’t get ahead of yourself. The rain didn't help. Long story short, rain all the way til we returned to the jeep, but was well worth the effort. Wanted to see the site of the Indian Battle, but we'll be back. Highly recommended...!

David Price, 11/5/2017

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