The Huge Wooden Creatures In This Unique, Southern State Park Look Like A Fairytale

Lake Malone State Park in Dunmore, Kentucky, is a 388-acre hidden oasis where the hustle of modern life fades away into nature. Picturesque sandstone bluffs surround the park's centerpiece, 788-acre Lake Malone. The sparkling lake provides an idyllic respite for swimmers, boaters, and anglers during Kentucky's hot summers, while trails weaving through the park's hardwood forests are a delight for hikers and walkers. But it's not just the natural beauty that captivates visitors. Lake Malone State Park holds a playful secret: a group of giant wooden sculptures known as the Big Twigs scattered throughout the park, creating a fairytale-like ambiance. 

The towering creatures can be seen engaging in a variety of outdoor activities. They are so lifelike and whimsical, they seem to have sprung straight from the pages of a storybook, a testament to the skills of their creator, artist Steve Brauch of Sevierville, Tennessee. Funded by a grant and donations from community organizations, the sculptures were designed to bring more day-use visitors to the park. So far, thanks to the endearing and magical Twigs, the strategy has been wildly successful. 

Meet the Big Twigs

The Twigs aren't just works of art; they're storytellers, guardians of the forest, and symbols of the park's commitment to conservation and creativity. Each Twig blends with the environment, almost as if it were a natural outgrowth of the forest, and depicts an activity you can enjoy in the park. The "Paige Malone" sculpture is reading a book near the park's playground, while "Happy Malone" is roasting marshmallows next to his tent. "Bobber Malone," perched near the lake, has a gigantic grin on his face as he spends all day fishing. 

"Oakley Malone" is tall like an oak tree and can be seen hiking along the park's Laurel Trail. Those in passing vehicles on the nearby road may also catch a glimpse of him, if they're fortunate. Two of the more playful Twigs are "Wattson Malone," who is trying to catch fireflies and other bugs near the tent camping sites, and "Annette Malone," who is chasing butterflies in the middle of a field. A sign planted next to her describes what's going on in her head: "Annette loves the lovely butterflies and she thinks they are good luck."

Other activities at Lake Malone

The Malones are loads of fun to discover and photograph, especially if you're towing little ones, but don't be distracted from the many other things to do in the park. For one, Lake Malone is a playground for water lovers. The lake is a superb fishing destination, as it teems with bass, white and black crappies, and catfish. Boating offers an adventurous way to explore the lake's scenic shoreline, and a sandy beach provides an ideal spot for relaxing by the water. The beach is also open for swimming from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Casual hikers will appreciate the park's easy trails, which range from 0.25 to 2 miles and meander past sandstone cliffs, a natural rock bridge, and rock walls that Native Americans once used as shelters. For an overnight stay in the serene environment, the park offers tent camping sites, RV sites, picnic areas, showers/restrooms, and laundry facilities. Whether you're seeking adventure or tranquility or you just want to meet the famous Twigs, this enchanting park is a great place to spend a day or a weekend.