Frozen Head State Park
You’re Looking At: DeBord Falls at Frozen Head State Park.
Frozen Head State Park consists of 330 acres. Throw in the state forest that surrounds it, and the Frozen Head State Park & Natural Area swells to more than 24,000 acres, creating one of Tennessee’s most magical wild places.
While the state park is nestled along the headwaters of Flat Fork Creek just outside Wartburg, Tenn., the state forest is in the heart of the Cumberland Mountains. There are 14 mountain peaks within the state park that stand over 3,000 feet above sea level. Frozen Head itself — Tennessee’s highest point west of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — stands at 3,324 feet and is named for its snow-capped appearance that is common during the winter months.
Frozen Head is perhaps best-known for its wildflowers and bird-watching, but it’s popular among backpackers, too. There are more than 80 miles of trails, with an observation deck on Frozen Head that gives a 360-degree view of the surrounding area.
Frozen Head got its start in the 1890s, when the Tennessee General Assembly authorized the building of Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary near Petros, Tenn. The new state prison included 9,000 acres of property, and prisoners were used to mine coal from that property. In 1970, the property was transferred to the Department of Environment & Conservation and transformed into a state natural area.
The state park includes a campground with 20 rustic campsites and a modern bathhouse.