The 8 Best Dog-Friendly Parks and Trails in Northeast Tennessee

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For dog-owners, planning a vacation—even a quick weekend getaway—requires making the additional preparations of arranging care for pets. And, if you aren’t blessed with an animal-loving neighbor or a nearby relative, that often means dealing with the expense and hassle of a kennel service.

For a vacation in Northeast Tennessee, though, you can cancel the dog sitter and let your fur baby tag along. This beautiful corner of Tennessee is teeming with pet-friendly trails, parks, and restaurants, so your dog can enjoy your getaway just as much as you will. Check out a few of the best adventures to have with your dog in Northeast Tennessee.

1. The Tweetsie Trail

The Tweetsie Trail links Johnson City and Elizabethton via a mostly flat 10-mile path, perfect for walking or running with your dog. The trail follows a railroad corridor that was built in the late 1800s and used to transport iron ore and timber through the Doe River Gorge in North Carolina. When the rail line fell out of use in 2003, a group of citizens began the process of transforming it into the popular multi-use trail that it is today. From the trailhead in Johnson City, this pup-friendly path is perfect for a beautiful countryside excursion, with forests, creeks, and historical markers to enjoy along the way.

2. The Bark Park

This friendly off-leash play area was Bristol’s first dog park, and is a subset of the charming Charlie Robinette Park. The tidy, grassy Bark Park offers benches, drinking fountains, and trash receptacles, as well as little swimming pools in the summer months for dogs to cool off. It also has a separate area for smaller dogs to play. The Bark Park is a great place for your pup to socialize and expend some energy before you continue on to your next adventure.

Macado’s is eclectic eatery in the heart of downtown Bristol, and will be a treat for you and your dog. The downtown favorite offers up an extensive menu of gourmet burgers, sandwiches and salads. Enjoy dinner and drinks from the covered patio overlooking State Street where pets are welcome. Take advantage of the daily special on your visit, and save room for dessert.

3. Appalachian Caverns

For a truly unique experience with your dog, book a tour of the Appalachian Caverns in Blountville. There are several options for guided tours, ranging from easy to “wild.” In addition to its natural splendor, the large cave is home to some truly fascinating human history. Archeologists have found evidence of Native American presence in the cave, such as pottery, arrowheads, and firewood remnants, dating back to 675 B.C. The cave and its surrounding area have also been host to the Boone and Crockett families, and the cave served as a soldier shelter during the Revolutionary War.

After touring the cave, make the 10-minute drive south to Studio Brew in downtown Bristol. It’s not every day you get to enjoy a craft beer or craft soda inside of a piece of history. Built in 1907, the building originally served as a distillery with the third floor being used as a roller rink. Studio Brew offers the experience of matching great beer with great food – kind of like high-five for your palette. Take in the outdoors with your pup from their recently expanded patio, located just across from Cumberland Square Park.

4. Dennis Cove Recreation Area

Venture into the Pond Mountain Wilderness for a fun, woodsy day at Dennis Cove. You’ll find a developed campground, a picnic area, and several hiking trails to keep you and your dog active and entertained in the outdoors. While you’re there, check out the Laurel Falls Trail, an out-and-back, moderate hike measuring about five miles that leads to a gorgeous waterfall. A large portion of the trail is creekside, so your dog will have plenty of water to drink and swim in to cool off.

5. Roan Mountain State Park

If you and your dog want to experience some of Northeast Tennessee’s most amazing scenery, there’s no better place than Roan Mountain State Park and the surrounding area. With rolling bald mountains, hardwood forests, and the babbling Doe River, this park beckons hikers and backpackers from all around to its breathtaking landscape. Hike the trails within the state park or venture to Carver’s Gap and explore north or south on the Appalachian Trail—you might even bump into some thru-hikers who would be elated to see a pup. If you time your visit right, you might get to experience the magic of the rhododendron blooms in the summer months.

Head to state’s oldest town for a taste of the old south at the Tennessee Hills Distillery in Jonesborough. Everything about this place is reminiscent of times gone by, from the passed-down whiskey recipes to the 160-year old Salt House where the distillery is located. Dogs are welcome inside the distillery, and you might even get to say hello to the shop dog that can often be found hanging out behind the counter.

6. Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

Take your pup on a historical field trip to Sycamore Shoals in Elizabethton, a riverside park that protects and commemorates the location of important events during the colonization of the United States. The park has two two-mile trails, the Patriot Path and the Longhunter Loop, and both are easy and well worth a stroll.

Situated in Johnson City’s growing downtown area, the Yee-Haw brewery has a wonderfully light atmosphere for hanging out after a day exploring in the city or the outdoors. The huge patio, cozy couches, and assortment of games make it great for relaxing with your dog. (And the beer’s not bad either!) White Duck Taco Shop is in an adjoining section of the building, so you can grab some delicious tex-mex to go along with your craft brews.

7. Kingsport Barking Lot

With 21 pet friendly restaurants, 11 hotels that accept pets, 5 businesses offering pet services and 2 dog parks, its safe to say Kingsport is a dog friendly destination. The city’s first dog park, known as the Barking Lot, is located downtown and is open from dawn to dusk. Kingsport even has its own Selfie-Trail with picture perfect backdrops for you and your pooch.

8. Watauga Lake

What dog doesn’t love a good old-fashioned lake swim? Watauga Lake is nestled into Cherokee National Forest, which has allowed most of its surrounding acreage to remain forested and undeveloped. While there are a couple of spots that are popular for swimming and launching boats, the lake’s remoteness makes it easy to seek out your own private piece of shoreline for sun bathing, picnicking, and doggy paddling.

Written by Madison Eubanks for RootsRated Media in partnership with Northeast Tennessee Tourism.

Featured image provided by Wyatt Ryan

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