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Outdoors in East Tennessee

Check out the resources below to find out how to make the most of our region.

Outdoor Knoxville

The City of Knoxville offers hundreds of acres with outdoor opportunities in diverse park and greenway settings – including forests, flower-covered fields, quarry lakes, creeks, rivers, and exciting bluffs, many located within just a few minutes of campus.

Find maps, interest groups, and event calendars for Knoxville’s bicycling, disc golf, fishing, hiking, paddling/sailing, rock climbing, walking, running, skateboarding, and winter sports.

Visit the Outdoor Knoxville website

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in the 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, it is America’s most-visited national park.

Activities: whitewater paddling, flatwater paddling, hiking, backpacking, road biking, cross-country skiing, fishing

Visit the Smokies website

Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area

Encompassing 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area protects the free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries. The area boasts miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs, is rich with natural and historic features, and has been developed to provide visitors with a wide range of outdoor recreational activities.

Activities: climbing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, whitewater paddling, flatwater paddling, fishing

Visit the Big South Fork website

Obed Wild & Scenic River

A variety of outdoor activities await you at the Obed Wild and Scenic River. Kayaking, canoeing, and rafting are popular seasonal activities. The 45 miles that comprise the river system includes whitewater runs that range from Class II to Class IV. Rock climbing and boulder climbing are also available at the park with dozens of climbing routes ranging up to 200 feet in length are offered.

Activities: climbing, hiking, whitewater paddling, fishing

Visit the Obed River website

Panther Creek State Park

Panther Creek State Park is a 1,435-acre park located on the Cherokee Reservoir. The park has 17 hiking trails covering more than 30 miles of terrain at all levels of difficulty. Hikers can enjoy magnificent views of Cherokee Lake and the Cumberland Mountains from Point Lookout Trail reaching 1,460 feet above sea level. There are also more than 15 miles of mountain biking trails that range from easy to difficult.

Activities: Mountain Biking, Hiking, Flatwater Paddling, Fishing

Visit the Panther Creek website

Roan Mountain

Famous for its spectacular natural gardens of Catawba rhododendrons, Roan Mountain shelters a rich diversity of life, from spruce-fir forests to vast grassy balds. Roan Mountain is actually not one mountain, but a high ridge about five miles long. It ranges from a height of 6,286 feet at Roan High Knob to a low of 5,500 feet at Carver’s Gap. Also, the Roan Mountain State Park at the base of the mountains has approximately 12 miles of hiking trails and 2.25 miles of mountain bike trails.

Activities: hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing

Visit the Roan Mountain website

Frozen Head State Park

Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area encompasses more than 24,000 acres of wilderness area and is named for a 3,324-foot peak in the Cumberland Mountains. Fifty miles of backpacking and day-hiking trails provide wildlife viewing opportunities. Many of the trailheads are located near the park office, with lesser-used trailheads located at Armes Gap and just off Highway 62 to the south.

Activities: hiking, backpacking, mountain biking

Visit the Frozen Head website

South Cumberland State Park

South Cumberland State Park is composed of approximately 25,539 acres and boasts some of the best hiking and backcountry camping in the region. The Fiery Gizzard Trail is a 12.5-mile long one-way trail that connects the Grundy Forest and Foster Falls. This trail has been rated by Backpacker magazine as one of the top 25 in the country. The Savage Gulf and Stone Door areas of the park offer approximately 55 miles of hiking to remarkable vistas, waterfalls, and historical locations such as the Stage Coach Road.

Activities: climbing, hiking, backpacking, flatwater paddling, fishing

Visit the South Cumberland website