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Frozen Head Long Tour

A long trail running tour of Frozen Head State Park, home of the infamous Barkley Marathons.

Trail Running Difficult

24 km
1.1 km
1.1 km
3-4 hrs
Low Point
413 m
High Point
1 km
Frozen Head Long Tour Map

Frozen Head State Park earned its popularity in the trail running world after a documentary about the Barkley Marathons swept across streaming sites and went viral on social media platforms in 2016. Each spring, participants are given a 60-hour time limit to cover what is approximately 100-miles of trail with a staggering 54,000 feet of climbing. The event, which has changed routes through the years, was first held in 1986; as of 2017, there were only 15 official finishers. In the running community, the Barkley is widely-recognized as one of the toughest—and craziest—ultramarathons on the planet.


Named after their "snow-capped appearance in colder months," this route through Frozen Head State Park is nowhere near as technical as the Barkley. Along this 15-mile circuit, you will tour the park's four most notable peaks, including the observation deck on Frozen Head that was erected in 2006. From this grandstand, you will have unparalleled views of "East Tennessee's three main physiographic features: the Cumberland Plateau, the Tennessee Valley, and across the valley, the Great Smoky Mountains."

As mapped, park at the visitor center to begin your run. Both water and restrooms are nearby. If you can find parking near Big Cove Campground, you could also begin there. The loop can be run in either direction, both beginning with a long series of switchbacks to the top of a ridge. Water may be available along the trail at the beginning and end of the run, but is mostly unavailable along the ridge. A 2-liter hydration vest and trekking poles are highly recommended for this epic endeavor.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FrozenHeadStatePark https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BarkleyMarathons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FrozenHeadStatePark https://tnstateparks.com/parks/frozen-head



High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

all year round

Guidebooks in this area