Location: Fentress County
Acreage: 3,000 acres
Activities: Hiking, Exploring.
Pogue Creek Canyon is a 3,000-acre state natural area just outside the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area that encompasses the unique geology of the Cumberland Plateau. The Big South Fork has been called “Utah with trees” and Pogue Creek is an even better example of these features, which closely resemble the canyons of the American Southwest — except forested.
The Nature Conservancy acquired the 3,000 acres that make up Pogue Creek Canyon in 2005. The following year, the Conservancy transferred the land to the State of Tennessee for the establishment of a state natural area.
Once that land transfer took place, several miles of hiking trails were constructed. Then-Gov. Bill Haslam visited in 2014 to dedicate the first trail, a 1.75-mile loop to an overlook near the head of the canyon.
A natural oasis
Pogue Creek Canyon encases Pogue Creek, which empties into the Wolf River and eventually the Cumberland River. The 3,000-acre natural area includes more than 300 species of native plants, including rare plants like the Cumberland sandwort and Lucy Braun’s snakeroot. It is also home to a wide variety of animals, including migratory songbirds, amphibians and cave species.
The sheer cliffs of exposed, multi-colored sandstone, rock houses and rock formations create magnificent photo opportunities throughout the canyon, many of which can be seen from the hiking trails.
A trail map has been developed by the Tennessee State Park System: https://tnstateparks.com/assets/pdf/additional-content/Pogue_Creek_Canyon_Trail_Map_2017.pdf