A remarkable conception in 1921, completed in 1937, the 2,175-mile-long Appalachian Trail was created by private citizens. This incredible hiking trail, traversing the Appalachian Mountains--from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine--provides a unique perspective into the mountains' geologic history.
Approximately 890 miles of the Appalachian Trail passes through the Blue Ridge Mountains and through East Tennessee. Almost all of the Appalachian Trail in northeastern Tennessee lies within the Cherokee National Forest, with a small portion occurring on Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) land near Watauga Lake. Tennessee has 93 miles (472 km) of the trail, not including more than 200 miles along or near the North Carolina border.
The portion of the trail through Tennessee sees a wide variance of elevation--from 1,000 feet to 6,643 feet at Clingman's Dome. Here, you will find the greatest number of plant species and the broadest tree diversity along the trail. Common vegetation types that you will encounter in the Tennessee trail region are oak, red spruce, Fraser fir, hemlock and hickory forests, Southern Appalachian bogs, heath and grassy balds. The red spruce, the Fraser fir forest and the grassy balds are among the rarest plant community types along the entire Appalachian Trail. Some of the trail's most rare, threatened and endangered species are those found in Tennessee. The most significant natural heritage site on the Appalachian Trail resides in Tennessee, north of Roan Mountain, Doll Flats Spring in Cherokee National Forest. The site is home to several globally rare species.
You will also find rare or threatened animals along Tennessee's part of the trail: the raven (Corvus corax), Swainson's warbler (Limnothlypsis swainsonii), the Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister) and the vesper sparrow (Neotoma magister). The American black bear is the largest omivore that may be encountered on the trail. Bear sightings on the trail are rare, and confrontations rarer still. Other large fauna include the elk, reintroduced in the Smoky Mountains.
Some noteworthy information for those dedicated to traversing the entire trail: Along the trail are resources to facilitate hikers, some unique to the Appalachian Trail. The trail is most frequently hiked south to north (Georgia to Maine). Hikers typically begin in March or April, finishing in the late summer or early to late fall. Many hikers divide the mileage into halves or thirds, so that they will encounter the best weather. Throughout its length, the trail is marked by 2-by-6-inch white paint blazes. Side trails to shelters, viewpoints and parking areas use similarly shaped blue blazes. In the past, some sections of the trail also used metal diamond markers with the Appalachian Trail logo, few of which remain. More than 250 shelters and campsites exist for hikers. The trail crosses many roads, providing ample opportunity for hikers to obtain food and other supplies. Erwin, Tennessee, is a key stop.
As you plan your trip, remember to pack your camera. You will want to revisit the vistas you find along the trail in picturesque Tennessee.
Travel Tennessee trails that follow victory and valor, heritage and historic communities. Over water and land, these routes tell a story--through the Trail of Tears, the Natchez Trace, the Overmountain Victory Trail and more. Come experience the significant cultural background woven into the colorful tapestry of Tennessee.
Benton MacKaye Trail
With thousands of miles of hiking trails throughout Tennessee, there are plenty of options to choose from if you want to take a hike. These choices include 90 miles of the Benton MacKaye Trail, the trail named after the father of the Appalachian Trail. ...more
Big Hill Pond State Park
With its railroad and Civil War history and 5,000 acres of magnificent timberland and hardwood bottom lands of Cypress Creek and the Tuscumbia River, Big Hill Pond has features of interest to both history buffs and nature lovers. Close to the sites of battles at Davis Bridge and Youngs Bridge engagement where the Confederate Army, withdrawing from Corinth, MS, extricated itself from a difficult situation and later formed the bulk of the defenders of the besieged city of Vicksburg. ...more
Cherokee Heritage Trails
A 432-page guidebook travels through the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in the mountains of NC, TN, and GA around seven geographical hubs or communities within the original Cherokee homeland, covering sites, side trips, scenic drives, events, Cherokee stories, history, poems, and philosophy. ...more
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
Point Park commemorates the soldiers who fought in the 1863 Civil War battles for Chattanooga. The battlefields of Orchard Knob, Lookout Mountain and portions of Missionary Ridge are all components of the National Park. ...more
Colditz Cove State Natural Area
Colditz Cove is one of Tennessee's newest natural areas. It is characterized by high bluffs, rugged gorges, lush rhododendron, large trees and a beautiful waterfall. ...more
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
The park is rich in American Indian, early pioneer and Civil War history, plus offers 70 miles of trails, tours of the historic Hensley Settlement, cave tours and camping. Visitor Center includes museum, dramatic films, craft sales and bookstore. ...more
Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park
Davy Crockett's Birthplace State Park was established in 1973 and has been preserved as a historic site on land acquired from the Davy Crockett Birthplace Association. The park consists of 105 partially wooded acres of land along the Nolichucky River in Greene County. ...more
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America's most visited national park. ...more
Natchez Trace Parkway
The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway and Byway commemorates the ancient trail used by animals and people that connected portions of the Mississippi River to the salt licks in central Tennessee. It took “Kaintucks” about 30 days to walk along the Trace, carrying goods to sell at the port of New Orleans. ...more
City: Pasquo, TN
Phone: (800) 305-7417
Natchez Trace Wine Trail
The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway commemorates an ancient trail that connected southern portions of the Mississippi River, through Alabama, to today's central Tennessee. The Tennessee cities along the historic Natchez Trace Parkway are Nashville, Franklin, Leiper's Fork and Brentwood. ...more