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A Guide to Hiking Trails in Tennessee

Tennessee, with its stunning landscapes and diverse natural beauty, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers alike. From the majestic mountains of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the serene waterfalls of the Cumberland Plateau, there is no shortage of hiking trails to explore in the Volunteer State. Whether you’re seeking a challenging trek or a leisurely stroll, Tennessee offers a trail for every skill level and interest.

One of the most popular hiking destinations in Tennessee is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With over 800 miles of trails, this expansive park is a hiker’s paradise. The park boasts a variety of trails, ranging from easy walks through wildflower-filled meadows to strenuous climbs up rugged mountain peaks. A must-see in the park is the iconic Appalachian Trail, which spans 72 miles through Tennessee and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

For those looking to escape the crowds and immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature, the Cumberland Plateau is a hidden gem. This region, located in central Tennessee, is home to numerous hiking trails that wind through lush forests, past cascading waterfalls, and along scenic gorges. The Fiery Gizzard Trail, known for its challenging terrain and stunning rock formations, is a favorite among experienced hikers. If you prefer a more leisurely hike, the Savage Gulf State Natural Area offers a network of trails that meander through the picturesque Savage Gulf gorge, providing ample opportunities to admire its beauty.

In eastern Tennessee, the Cherokee National Forest offers a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. With over 600 miles of trails, this forest is a paradise for hikers seeking solitude and serenity. The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, a designated wilderness area within the forest, is home to some of the oldest and tallest trees in the eastern United States. The 2-mile Joyce Kilmer Loop Trail is a popular choice for visitors, offering a chance to stroll among these ancient giants and take in the peacefulness of the forest.

If you’re looking for a unique hiking experience, look no further than the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Located on the Cumberland Plateau, this park features a rugged landscape of sandstone cliffs, natural arches, and scenic river valleys. The Twin Arches Trail, a 4.6-mile loop, takes hikers to the largest sandstone arches in the eastern United States, offering breathtaking views along the way. For a longer adventure, the Angel Falls Overlook Trail is a 10-mile trek that leads to a stunning view of the 90-foot Angel Falls.

No matter where you choose to hike in Tennessee, it’s important to be prepared and practice Leave No Trace principles. Always carry water, snacks, and a map of the trail, and wear appropriate footwear and clothing. It’s also a good idea to check the weather conditions before heading out and let someone know your hiking plans. By taking these precautions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

In conclusion, Tennessee is a hiker’s paradise with a wide range of trails to suit every skill level and interest. From the rugged mountains of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the peaceful forests of the Cumberland Plateau, the state offers endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. So lace up your boots, pack your backpack, and get ready to discover the natural wonders that Tennessee has to offer. Happy hiking!