Top Ten Campsites near Nashville and Memphis

Big Hill Pond State Park

Directions: To reach Big Hill Pond State Park from Memphis, drive east on US 72 to Collierville, then take US 57 east for approximately 60 miles to the state park, which is on the right, not far past the McNairy-Hardeman county line.

Fees: Campsites are $10 per night.

Information: Call (901) 645-7967, or visit

This is the best-kept secret in West Tennessee. Big Hill Pond State Park survived budget battles in Nashville partly because of its precious wetlands, which lie in the flood plain of the Tuscumbia River. But there's more to this park than wetlands; a walk on any of the 30 miles of trails will testify to the variety of the terrain here. The entire trail system, including some loops ideal for day hikers, is special enough to have been designated a National Recreation Trail.

Campers can opt to stay in the campground or in the backcountry. The 30-site campground is set on a ridge above Dismal Branch. This rolling backdrop offers variation to your camping opportunities. Shaded by tall pines and oaks, campsites are nearly always available. Hot showers are available on-site, but there are no hookups, which means no RVs.

Four designated backcountry campsites, complete with shelters, are spread out along the trail system. The shelters are available on a first-come first-served basis, and can accommodate up to ten people. If you stay in the backcountry, bring your own water or treat water from one of the plentiful sources nearby. McNatt Lake, for example, is a 165-acre spring-fed impoundment where canoers can vie for bass, beam, and catfish. Another water source, Big Hill Pond, was created when a levee was built for a railroad crossing the Tuscumbia River plain.

The trail system explores the high and the low country of Big Hill Pond. The highest point is an observation tower where there are 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside and you can look south across the Tuscumbia River Valley into Mississippi. The lowest area is the .8 mile boardwalk traversing Dismal Swamp, a bottomland forest that attracts waterfowl and other wildlife. In between are wooded hills and some surprisingly steep valleys.

After, you visit Big Hill Pond, contact your local representative and tell 'em to keep this little gem open.


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