This is an easy trail for experienced hikers and an intermediate/difficult for inexperienced hikers or small children. The trail passes by an original segment of the Trail of Tears (also available to hike) with interpretive kiosks and information. The highlight is the Shoal Creek Trail
section which runs along the bank of Shoal Creek for approximately 1.5 miles. The creek is easily accessible from several points along the trail.
There are no entrance fees to the park. There is a restaurant and community pool that is open seasonally available at the northern end of the park. There is a seasonally operated concession at David Crockett Lake that offers boat rental. Fishing is permitted with proper licenses at the lake and along Shoal Creek.
Parking is available on the left or right side of the main entrance road just past the welcome center. Parking and restrooms are available at Picnic Shelter #1, on the left side of the road. From Shelter #1, hike west towards the ridge and over a small footbridge. You'll see the purple trail markers for Turkey Ridge Trail
at this point. The trail starts off steep up the ridge, but will level off fairly quickly after about 0.30 mile. At about 0.75 miles, the trail will cross the park road and the blue trail (original segment of the Trail of Tears). There is an interpretive historical area to the right (east) at this junction (you could also jump on the blue trail at this point and head north for a longer trail mileage experience). Cross the road and look for the well-displayed purple trail blazes to continue on the Turkey Ridge Trail
Once on the opposite side of the park road, there will be several yellow "connector" trails that will take you east towards the Shoal Creek Trail
. You can shorten the length of your hike by using these connectors. The trail route here depicts the most northern yellow Connector 5
(yellow blazes), located just south of Campground #2. The yellow connector trail dead-ends into Shoal Creek Trail
(green blazes). There are a few wet creek crossings and one wetland crossing on this trail so be prepared for wet, muddy conditions especially in the winter months. It's typically no more than ankle deep, though, and most creek crossings can be hopped over. The Shoal Creek Trail
terminates in the parking lot of Campground #1. Walk west across the campground parking area (or along the rock wall by Shoal Creek). The main park road will soon be visible as well as the parking area near Picnic Shelter #1 on the opposite side of the road.
White-tailed deer are commonly seen on this hike. Numerous songbirds, woodpeckers, chipmunks and squirrels are frequently encountered as well. Great blue herons and bitterns are often seen along Shoal Creek. During spring, unique plants such as Trillium species can be found.
The park was once the site of a powdermill, gristmill and distillery owned by David Crockett. During the summer months, the park has a staffed museum with a working replica of the mill. There is also a raptor center and aviary with a variety of live hawks and owls on display.