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Tennessee Hiking Trail Finder

This site provides quick access to Tennessee hiking trail and backpacking info. Hiking enthusiasts like you have posted excellent web pages on free web servers -- only to be ignored by search engines. The purpose of this site is to provide a way to find these personal hiking pages, and make your research easier.

  • Bays Mountain Park Bays Mountain Park is a fine gem run by the city of Kingsport, Tennessee. This is the home page for the park. They got a little zoo and a planetarium as well, terrific place to introduce kids to hiking.


  • Bays Mountain Park very brief write up, very good directions by Tracy Green on the Trailrunner website. Trailrunners, in case you were wondering, are people who like to RUN on trails. I guess it's better than those ghastly mountain bikes clattering down the trail.


  • Big South Fork River collection of GPS waypoints and a host of links to maps, info, etc. for waterfalls, natural bridges, and other landforms of the Big South Fork (TN/KY). Comprehensive site by Tom Dunigan.


  • If you are headed to the Big South Fork River National Recreation Area, and if you are interested in the geology of the area...that is, the natural arches and other cool rock formations, you really ought to get your hands on The Natural Arches of the Big South Fork: A Guide to Selected Landforms by Arthur McDade. Now, this isn't much of a hiking guide, although it does give sufficient trail information to get you to the formations. But without it, you're looking at hours and hours of internet research, and you'll likely miss half of them in the process. Seriously, this book is the guide you need to have for arch hunting in the Big South Fork. The link above takes you to Amazon.com, where you can even order a used copy if you're so inclined.


  • Chickamauga National Military Park this isn't a hiking site per se, and the page this link goes to is about Chattanooga/Lookout Mountain -- but -- it has three good hiking trail links, including one that launches a very nice color map of the hiking trails at Chickamauga NMP. It's a National Park Service site, and sometimes the links change, so we're just linking to the main page.


  • Clingman's Dome page describes the Appalachian trail from Newfound Gap, with map, suggestions, narrative, and particularly nice photographs. Outstanding site by Arnt Flatmo of Norway. We'll note here that if you make the "mistake" of clicking on Arnt's Hordaland page, you'd better start saving for a trip to Norway! Incredible, must-see photos and site. We warned you!


  • The Cumberland Trail is the basis for a large network of greenways that will crisscross the Cumberland Plateau north and south, east and west. It's now more than just a vision with more than 114 miles of open trail currently beckoning the hiker to the Cumberland Plateau. A further 179 miles of trails are in the detailed planning stage, with 10 miles currently under construction. This is the "official" dot-org page.


  • Fall Creek Falls State Park trail description page from the official state park site. Lists about a dozen trails, with brief but informative description, also has a map and other basic info.


  • Fall Creek Falls here's a page with a good description of the Lower Loop-Cane Creek trail system, complete with directions and photos, on the BackpackCamp.com website.


  • General - Eastern Tennessee Here's a site by Kris Light (no rhyme intended) that is positively a "must-bookmark" site if you live or regularly visit these parts. You ought to bookmark even if you don't. This is an all-around outstanding site for understanding wildflowers...so you won't be stumbling around saying "I think that's a foxglove - no, maybe it's gentian - wait, it might be lupine" ...when in reality you have no idea what you're talking about. Well, Kris does, and if you study this site, you will too. If that weren't enough, it also has pictures of trails in the Smoky Mountains, Big South Fork, several state parks and state natural areas. It gives descriptions of the trails and discusses geology too. Trails, flowers, geology...now that's what I'm talking about! I wish I had a site like this for every state.


  • General -- State Parks Official State website guide to all state-run parks. Not much on hiking, but will help you sort out which parks offer what. Get it?


  • General - Western Tennessee Here's a blog by a gentleman named Mark Peacock that focuses on hiking in the Appalachian highlands of Eastern Tennessee, Western NC, Great Smokies, etc. Lots of coverage for the Unicoi County region. Good blog offerings range from hike descriptions to random observations about the region and some excellent photos. Has a good indexing feature on the lower right hand side of the site that will enable you to call up each entry on a given location or topic. Good stuff, well worth looking at.


  • General GPS waypoints for virtually every known or important waterfall, natural bridge, arch, peak, lake, ditch (I'm just kidding about the ditches) with references to maps, photos, you name it. A very useful, and I daresay important, geological website by Tom "Tennessee Waypoints" Dunigan. If you live in Tennessee you positively must bookmark this page.


  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- General here's a very good site by Jeff Doran called HikingInTheSmokys.com. Sorts trails a variety of ways -- you can pick by location, difficulty, etc -- and then go to individual pages for an assortment of hikes. The ultimate landing pages each have descriptions, directions, photos, a topo map, and an elevation graph. Being a visual person who happens to be really bad at math, I used to find these graphs quite frightening. Then somebody was kind enough to explain that I should read the scale, and it turns out that what at first appears to be an epic climb in some cases represents a mere 50 feet. But I digress. This is a terrific site, and Jeff is constantly adding new hikes and information to the menu.


  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- Boulevard Trail, Mount Leconte High in the Great Smoky Mountains lies a few rustic little cabins known as Leconte Lodge. It can be reached only by hiking any of five trails to the summit of one of the highest peaks in the park. Mount Leconte rises to an elevation of 6,593 feet and is as majestic as any peak in these rolling mountains. On this site, hosted by the Natural Born Hikers, the text describes the 8 mile long Boulevard Trail from the parking lot at Newfound Gap to the lodge on top of Mount Leconte. As always, the NBH crew has loaded this site with photos and an article that gives you all the details. Heck, after reading this page, I hardly even need to do the hike!


  • Great Smoky Mountain National Park -- Chimney Tops Chimney Tops Trail climbs to a height of 4,840 feet to a 360 degree view of the park. Chimney Tops Trail is an all season trail that has much to offer the hiker regardless of the time of year. This web page is on the Natural Born Hikers site, so you can be sure it really gives you a good feel for the trail. Page has plenty of awesome photos, provides directions and details.


  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- GPS Waypoints comprehensive site with waypoints for major landforms and attractions (the natural kind, not the wax museum kind) links to maps, info, lots of stuff. Another well done site by Tom Dunigan.


  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 800 miles of trail and more than 500,000 acres of land. Rod's Guide website currently features 14 selected hikes ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging . Included with each hike description are directions to the departure point. Some include very nice trail maps. This is a comprehensive site with links to other GSMNP info such as lodging, attractions, etc. Considering its commercial slant, the hiking information is surprisingly very good.


  • Great Smoky Mountains NP -- Blanket Mountain Also Maldron Bald and Gregory Bald. This is the main menu page for Jon Maloney's Tennessee hiking site. Nice thing about this is once you click on the specific hikes, you'll find a host of details and elevation info, including an excellent mile-by-mile listing (specific to tenths) so that you can keep track of things.


  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- General We've given you a lot of links on GSMNP, but would be remiss not to provide this one to the ProTrails roundup. ProTrails.com maps everything out, provides lots of information. They've got a list of 20 trails and growing. The information is just tremendous; on the shorter hikes you can spend more time on their website than you will on the actual trail. I'm kidding of course, but you get the point. Bonus articles on Smoky Mountain history, geology, camping info, and whatnot. Great photos too.


  • Kingsport Area The Tennessee Eastman Hiking Club's mission is to provide a program of hiking, paddling, and similar outdoor recreational activities. The Club seeks to establish and expand area hiking trails and provide education in outdoor skills and safety. TEHCC was founded in 1946, and is headquartered in Kingsport, Tennessee. We recommend this site for anybody even remotely interested in the region.


  • Haw Ridge Oak Ridge City Parks Dept. owns this 400+ wilderness acres of wilderness that is home to a bundle of trails, geocaches, you name it. Site by Tom Dunigan has a mountain bike slant to it, but we won't hold that against him, considering how great his Tennessee landforms site is (see entry under "general" above). Good source of maps, info, links, trail stats, you name it. Comprehensive web page. Tom has also put together a terrific geocaching page for Haw Ridge.


  • Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park popular state park in Millington, TN, offers thorough information, except on the subject of hiking trails. Oh well.


  • Memphis Area This is the "meetup" Memphis Outdoors Adventure group. These are just plain folks, like us, who would prefer to hike with other folks than by themselves. No requirements for age, relationship status, anything like that. Good group, good people.


  • Savage Gulf located in Central Tennessee in the South Cumberland Mountains. Outstanding rock action here. Website on BackpackCamp.com gives all the ins and outs for the key trails, directions to all, general info, and some terrific photos. A must-click.


I Don't think Hank done it this way

As hikers, the mention of Tennessee usually makes us think of lonely balds and deep ravines in the Smokies, or the wide vistas of the Cumberland Gap area. But I urge you to spend some time in the section of Western Tennessee between Jackson and Memphis. In addition to the beautiful scenery, you'll meet some wonderful folks, although you might need a translator.

Once, trying to pay for gas at a convenience store, I was courteously asked: "Yak anyhan ass?" To which I replied, "Pardon me?" So the gentleman restated it: "At beeyah fe ya?" (Translation: "Will that be all for you?" which was only slightly easier to understand than his former query "You like anything else?"). Shortly afterward, I checked into a motel after a friendly conversation of which I understood almost nothing, except that I was given a key and told to "look for Dora Delight." Well, this certainly sounded promising! My excitement waned when I realized that my room was merely at the door with the light over it.

You'll find the information in Middle Tennessee on Foot: Hikes in the Woods & Walks on Country Roads by Robert S. Brandt to be infinitely more understandable, not to mention extremely comprehensive for this region. Moving east a bit, look for 50 Hikes in the Tennessee Mountains: Hikes and Walks from the Blue Ridge to the Cumberland Plateau by Doris Gove, which is an extremely helpful book.

My personal favorite area to explore in Tennessee is the Big South Fork River region. Lots of natural arches, caves...all sorts of groovy rock formations. Best book I know of is Hiking the Big South Fork by Brenda G. Deaver, Jo Anna Smith, Howard Ray Duncan. It isn't the biggest seller for Big South Fork hiking guides, but I think it's easily the best. It's also one of the lowest priced. Info not just on hiking trails, but also geology and local history are covered too -- so you know what you're looking at. I like that. The link clicks through to amazon.com, so you can save a couple bucks off the bookstore price.

Great Smokies

Another book I like quite a bit is Day Hiker's Guide To All The Trails In The Smoky Mountains by Elizabeth Etnier, with graphics by Michael Etnier. Now there are dozens and dozens of hiking guides for the Great Smokies, but this is one of the very few written by a local. It doesn't fit the mold of the cookie-cutter "go here, hike two miles, turn at the stump" sort of guide book that the big publishers put out. In this deal, the Etniers lay out 75 day hikes that make for a checklist of every maintained trail in the Smokies...every mile is covered if you follow their lead. Now like any good local book published by a small-time independent, you won't find it at the mall. You either need to pick it up locally when you're in the Smokies, or click this link for the publishers site. I didn't even get into the maps and tables of local services. Even if you just use it as a reference to find and contact one of the porter services that will pick you up at the other end of a day hike -- and you know you won't find them online -- it's worth ten times more than what you'll pay for it.

Misunderstood? I apologize...

After receiving some feedback from an angry gentleman in Western Tennessee who didn't care for some of my comments about the language barrier, particularly the girl with the peaches. Fortunately he e-mailed me instead of telephoning, so at least I could understand what he was saying. Hey! Just kidding! Couldn't resist. The story was about a drop-dead gorgeous blonde selling peaches at a roadside stand just east of Memphis in July 1991. The peaches were incredible and so was the young lady. Unfortunately she had a dialect that rendered her speech into utter gibberish. I believe she was rather annoyed with me. I know for a fact that the e-mailer was annoyed, so I deleted the story. Sorry.

Fact is, you can find a lot of places with better hiking than Western Tennessee, but you won't find a lot of places with better people. So I don't mean to offend, and I do have a few friends in the Jackson TN area; please know that my comments are intended in a spirit of fun and affection.

-- Rick Bolger

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