I have enjoyed Tennessee for many years. Eastern Tennessee has the beginning of the Appalachian Trail and the beginning of the Smoky Mountain Range. Here are three of the treasured lands set aside by the United States’ government as national protected areas, and I have spent some happy hours exploring each of them with friends and family:
Cherokee National Forest
Covering a great spread of natural-growth forest on the eastern border of Tennessee and into the state of North Carolina, the Cherokee National Forest covers part of the land that used to belong to the Cherokee Nation. Lakes and rivers, creeks and mountains as well as hardwood and evergreen trees are the main features of the land within the parkland borders. Many trails for hiking and backpacking criss-cross through this protected forest including the Appalachian Trail. The entire region is a wonderful place for a variety of activities in the outdoors such as fishing, walking, wildlife-watching and camping.
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
Honoring those who fought and died on the fields during the Civil War, the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park is found on the border of Tennessee and Georgia at Chattanooga. Impressive monuments to military men who fought for the North and South with original cannons and historic structures are in the park. A beautiful welcome center has a small museum that tells the story of the battles fought here. The museum has artifacts, artwork and photography of the time as well as a movie. Trails for walking, biking and horseback riding are all through the parklands. Visitors can also take scenic drives and historic tours, eat picnics and take part in other outdoor activities within this national park.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Right on the Smoky Mountain Range in eastern Tennessee on its border with North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is located beside the resort mountain town of Gatlinburg. A substantial portion of this park is in the center of the historic Cherokee Nation lands. With over 500,000 acres of parklands, the protected region has over 800 miles of trails with natural features like hardwood trees, evergreen trees and waterfalls along with meadows, birds and wildlife for visitors to see. Camping, cycling, and hiking as well as car touring, fishing and picnicking are just some of the fun things people do in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.