Named for the Chickasaw Indians who lived and hunted on this land until the early 1800s, Chickasaw State Park was one of Tennessee’s 20 New Deal-era state parks. It is located on 1,400 acres of land in what is some of the high- est terrain in West Tennessee. Straddling the border of Hardeman and Chester Counties, it became a state park in 1955 when ownership of the New Deal-era parks was transferred to the states. Remains of the previous park can be seen when hiking the Fern Creek Trail. Chester County, where much of the park is located, is one of Tennessee’s three Grand Divisions. The last of Tennessee’s counties to be designated, Chester was created in 1879 from parts of Hardeman, Henderson, McNairy, and Madison counties. The county seat is located at Henderson, which can claim a bit of fame as it was where, in 1973, the movie Walking Tall was filmed. The movie portrays the legacy of McNairy County Sheriff Buford Pusser who took it upon himself to clean up crime and corruption in the county. Henderson is also the birthplace of country music singer and song- writer Eddy Arnold, who was born there in 1918 and later became famous for such songs as “Make the World Go Away” and “What’s He Doing in My World.” In 1966, Arnold was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Directions: From Jackson, Tennessee, follow U.S. 45 south to Tennessee 100 in Hender- son. Follow Tennessee 100 west to the main entrance on the left.
Hours Open: Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, central time.
Facilities: The park has 52 RV sites, 29 tent sites (with water), and 32 sites for horse wranglers. There are also 13 cabins and 6 picnic shelters and numerous picnic tables. Bicycling is allowed on the paved road, and there are horse trails as well. In addition, there is a group lodge, boat dock, ball field, and tennis courts. This park actually goes out of its way to be pet friendly; it provides a campground designed for horse wranglers (campervan for sale signs abound here) and several pet-friendly cabins, though pets must be on a leash. Wheelchair accessibility, on the other hand, is limited. There is no playground equipment for children available.
Permits and Rules: Campsites are first come, first served, but cabins should be reserved as should the group lodge. No private boats are allowed on the lake.
For Further Information: Chickasaw State Park, 20 Cabin Lane, Henderson, TN 38340; Office: 731-989-5141. Website: http://tnstate parks.com/parks/about/chickasaw.
As the largest group of Middle Woodland mounds in the United States, Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Area includes 17 mounds, an earthen geometric enclosure, and a number of habitation areas. This prehistoric Native American site is situated in the area that is known as the Eastern Woodlands. The struc- tures, which were probably built during the Middle Woodland Period (1st to 6th centuries AD), include Sauls' Mound, which, at 72 feet, is the second-highest mound in the United States. The mounds complex covers nearly 400 acres and contains some 30 mounds that were used for everything from religious ceremonies to burials. Self-interpretive trails abound at the site, and a mound-shaped museum offers plenty of information about the history and inhabitants of Pinson Mounds and the sur- rounding area. For more information, call 731-988-5614. Just 33 miles to the south is Big Hill Pond State Park. The timberland and hardwood bottomland of this park features many back- packing, bike, and horseback trails. In addition, fishing and boating are available on Travis McNatt Lake, and even the eponymous pond can still be fished for bass, bream, and catfish. For more information, call 731-645-7967.