Frozen Head State Park Provides Cool Respite to Beat Summer Heat

John M. Dabbs

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DeBoard Falls at Frozen Head State ParkJohn Dabbs/Photographer

Finding our way out of the historic prison in Morgan County, Tennessee, we stumbled upon Frozen Head State Park. The park is not one of the largest or easiest to get to parks in the state park system, but it is comfortable and inviting.

The park visitor center is complete with maps, cool drinks, and a variety of novelties worthy of a gift shop. It's a great place to stop on the way into the park. If you've brought your lunch or dinner, you are in good shape to enjoy the picnic tables or perhaps camp. The campgrounds are wonderfully shaded this time of year and sit alongside a mountain stream with cool water.

The hiking trails are easily navigatable for the novice hiker, and not too steep. We made our way up the trail at the end of the road and found DeBoard Falls, just half a mile into the trail. The overlook provides a good view of the stream and the falls. Those more adventurous can climb the steep steps down to the falls to enjoy the cool water. We found plenty of minnows darting about the water, and it was quite refreshing to soothe our feet in the stream for a few moments. Thankfully the stench from our feet didn't appear to kill any wildlife.

The hike was quite pleasant, and we learned the cool stream didn't lend its name to the park, rather the snow/frost-capped mountain tops near the park gave the park its name. While this was a bit of a surprise, I can understand this more since it isn't a glacial stream.

One wouldn't have guessed the park lay beyond the Morgan County Correctional Complex, the facility which replaced Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex (prison). The modern facility is a stark contrast to the old prison and the pristine wilderness of the state park.

I learned Frozen Head State Park actually borders the area around Brushy Mountain Prison. There is some talk about a coordinated project, but the details are not public at the moment.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN
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