A trip to the foot of the Appalachian Mountains is where you’ll howl with wolves, relax on nationally renowned waters, or hike through mountain tops showcasing fluorescent colors of each distinct season.
It’s time to step outside and take in the outdoors, the Northeast Tennessee way. Here are a few trip ideas to get you started:
Trekking the Tweetsie Trail
If you’re looking for a trail to walk, hike or run that’s filled with nature and history, look no further than the Tweetsie Trail that takes you through Johnson City and Elizabethton. The graveled path travels for ten miles along a former railroad corridor. Tweetsie Trail trailheads: 107 Alabama Street in Johnson City and Hatcher Lane in Elizabethton.
Whitewater Rafting on the Nolichucky River
Nestled within the Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests, the Nolichucky River is known for class III and IV rapids daunting names like “Last Chance,” “Jaws” and “Pearly Gates.” Folks from all over the world venture to the mountain town of Erwin to take on the warm natural flow of the Nolichucky. We recommend a guided tour with USA Raft, open year-round.
Howl with the Wolves and Zip Through the Forest at Bays Mountain Park
Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport not only features numerous grades of hiking trails, but a variety of nature exhibits that will get you up close and personal with southern mammals and reptiles. Two of the most popular areas include the wolf preserve and a barge ride across the 44-acre reservoir revealing secrets of mountain aquatic life. Bays Mountain Park also features a 310 ft. zip line, planetarium and additional programs throughout the year. For hours and program availability, visit baysmountain.com.
Paddle Boarding on Watauga Lake
Not ready for the rush of the white water? Experience stand up paddle boarding on Watauga Lake near Elizabethton and Hampton. The calm water along what is often noted as Northeast Tennessee’s “hidden gem,” remains a popular location for paddle boarding. We also recommend visiting Wilbur Lake (also near Elizabethton) for spectacular views and easy access flowing into the Watauga River. Watauga Lake is located at 2285 US-321 in Hampton and Wilbur Lake is located along Wilbur Dam Road.
Adventures Through Doe Mountain
The Doe Mountain Recreation Area is a new outdoor venue located in a city that is named after its largest natural asset: Mountain City. So, if you are looking for adventure in an off road vehicle, mountain bike, on a horse or even hiking trails, the 8,600-acre mountain range in the heart of the Appalachians includes more than 60 miles of designated path perfect for the outdoor enthusiast. Doe Mountain Recreation Area is located at 1203 Harbin Hill Road in Mountain City.
Award Winning Fishing On the South Holston River
The South Holston River is one of the top fly fishing spots in the nation when it comes to trout. The dam controlled water runs deep and cold, year-round, producing more than 8,500 fish per mile with 85% of the population brown trout and 15% rainbow trout. Wading or floating the South Holston River is the preferred method of fishing the tail waters, with numerous access areas located near Bristol. To access the South Holston River, look for the TWRA Public Area in Bluff City along Big Springs Road. For additional access areas, click here.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail in Roan Mountain
The high elevation of Roan Mountain gives way to some of Northeast Tennessee’s best views with a rhododendron population so large a festival has even been named after the luscious mountain blooms. Roan Mountain spans over five summits with a diverse collection of native vegetation to bald clearings covered in wildflowers. The Appalachian Trail intersects just before you enter North Carolina at Carvers Gap, and boasts the perfect venue for day trips and families, or a much deserved stop for through hikers. The trail is best used March through October. To access the Appalachian Trail through Roan Mountain, look for the TN 143 and NC 261 intersection.
For additional information on what to do, where to stay and more in Northeast Tennessee, check out our trip ideas.