Outdoor Adventure

The Great Outdoors, the kind that look like a postcard and feel like a playground; where every adventure and every turn on a trail dare you to come back to Tennessee for more.

Hiking

Invest in astounding adventures and experience the beauty of Tennessee as a lifetime memory. Tackle the Appalachian Trail. Pit your strength against gentle giants such as Clingmans Dome, Chimney Tops and Abrams Falls. The lake trail at Standing Stone State Park is brilliantly abloom in spring. Glimpse an early morning great blue heron on a shoreline hike. Trek the six-mile loop in T.O. Fuller State Park, with historic Chucalissa Indian Village and wetlands as a bonus. Tennessee’s lush landscapes offer endless opportunity for avid hikers and climbers.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in America and is a treasure trove for hikers. From its tallest peaks that reach more than 6,000 ft. to its cool, rocky streams, through the forested slopes and shady glens, anywhere the interconnected web of hiking trails; this is the place to experience Appalachia in its wild and beautiful splendor.

Hike Andrews Bald, where the steep, paved path to the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower veers off to the right, the unpaved Forney Ridge Trail drops down to the left. It is an approximately 3.6-mile out-and-back trail. It’s a relatively easy hike to the bald, but considerably more strenuous getting back. Alum Cave Bluffs Trail winds out to the rocky overhang and is a popular day-hike in the park. This 4.6-mile out-and-back trail is moderately difficult with only a handful of short, steep grades to tackle, and well-worth the exertion.

Travel to Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area and experience Twin Arches in Oneida. Hike from Pickett Park Highway to these double sandstone arches. Follow the trail to Charit Creek Lodge, located on the six-mile loop, and cool off in the rocky stream.

Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns features natural beauty and family hikes. Various hiking options are open to every guest. The longest hiking trail is 10.4 miles and is destined as an overnight trail. Choose a short day hike ranging from 0.2-mile hikes to 1.7-mile hikes that bring you up close to Made in Tennessee natural beauty.

Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park with more than 1,200 acres is home to at least 15 Native American mounds that were used as both burial and ceremonial locations. Hiking trails give guests access to the mounds. Choose from the 2-mile Mounds Great Outer Loop Trail along a paved surface, or any of the natural surface hikes: Nature Trail, Earthworks Trail and Hudson Branch Trail.

Fort Pillow State Park in Henning offers a moderate 9-mile hike along the Red Trail. Learn the history of the area thanks to the well-preserved breastworks and reconstructed inner fort. Transport through history as the park offers Civil War artifact viewings along with a cannon and interpretive displays related to the Fort. 

Tennessee’s waterfall hikes are some of the most popular in the state. Burgess Falls in the Upper Cumberland region is 1.5 miles and classified as moderately strenuous.  Greeter Falls is located within South Cumberland State Park in Palmer. The natural area is one of Tennessee's most scenic wildernesses.

The 90-foot Bald River Falls makes its roaring home in the Cherokee National Forest in Tellico Plains and  is hailed as one of the greatest waterfalls in the region. The Great Falls in the 883-acre Rock Island State Park is a cascading 30-foot horseshoe. Fall Creek Falls in Spencer is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States at 256 feet. The waterfalls are located in Tennessee's largest and most visited state park with 26,000 acres.

Water Adventures

Whether you are in need of a soothing float down the river, or in the mood for a rip-roaring whitewater rafting adventure, the scenic rivers of Tennessee never fail to provide an inspiring experience.

In West Tennessee, you'll find the Mississippi River with its endless water adventures. Along the Mississippi River Corridor, you can try your hand at hiking, biking, camping, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and boating. Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge in Ripley lies in the Lower Mississippi River floodplain along the Chickasaw Bluff. Other places for paddling are the Beech River Watershed in Lexington, Natchez Trace State Park in Wildersville and the big water of Kentucky Lake, where canoeing, kayaking and rafting are part of the fun.

Middle Tennessee and the Upper Cumberland are rife with opportunities for adventure. Center Hill, Dale Hollow and Cordell Hull Lakes are great spots for fishing, boating, canoeing and swimming. Several state parks like Cumberland Mountain, David Crockett and Rock Island have plenty of water options. Tim's Ford State Park and Dam, on the headwaters of the Elk River, is another great spot for adventure.

The 125-mile Harpeth River Blueway and the Floating Mill Recreation Area, which runs 64 miles up the Caney Fork River, are both wonderlands for outdoor adventurers. The Duck River Blueway has the only Class II rapids on the lower portion of the river.

The lakes, rivers and mountains of East Tennessee are a paradise for boaters, bikers, hikers and climbers, with a nice dose of horseback riding and zip-lining thrown in. Try the Obed Wild and Scenic River: the name says it all. The Big South Fork, Caney Fork and Clinch Rivers are other beautiful and exciting places for testing the waters. Boone Reservoir in Northeast Tennessee, is one of the best places for kayaking, suitable for all levels of paddlers. Lakes like Chickamauga and Norris are great for a calm day on the lake, while the Hiwassee and Ocoee River Recreation Areas have some of the most famous whitewater in the nation, called one of "America’s Best Adventures" by National Geographic. You'll find Class III and IV rapids in several spots, including the Tellico ledges, the middle prong of the Little Pigeon and the Tremont River.

Check out the caves at Cumberland Gap National Recreation Area, try a zip line in Pigeon Forge, or explore the hang gliding and rock climbing opportunities in spots like Lookout Mountain or Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If winter sports are your thing, don't forget the skiing and snowboarding at Ober Gatlinburg. Whatever type of outdoor thrills you seek, Tennessee has it all.

Cycling

Cycling in Tennessee means fantastic vistas for leisurely riders and long- distance cyclists alike. With the highest elevation in Tennessee at 6,643 feet and the lowest point at 178 feet, our varied terrain will keep you guessing.

The Mississippi River Trail runs 185 miles from wildlife-rich Reelfoot Lake to Memphis. Ride along the Highland Rim. The scenic roads around Lake Watauga are among the best mountain biking routes in the country. Try bike paths at Chickasaw State Park and mountain trails on the Natchez Trace. Experience the Tweetsie Trail in Johnson City, and for mountain bikers, the city’s Tannery Knobs Trails, opening in summer of 2018, are a must.

Run through woods filled with wildlife in David Crockett State Park and Fall Creek Falls. Booker T. Washington State Park's six-mile loop features both long uphill climbs and fast downhills. Off-road biking is allowed in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in several spots. The tranquil Cades Cove Loop encourages bikers, and rentals are available. Along the way, take in churches, pioneer cabins, and other historic structures.

Relish new sights as you cycle through Tennessee.