Want to enjoy a scenic hike along bodies of water, amid fresh air and between forests of trees? Tennessee has some of the best hiking trails that are surrounded by Mother Nature’s finest qualities. These 10 trails will get you in shape while you admire the beauty of Tennessee’s outdoor landscape.
Located just outside of Nashville, Radnor Lake State Park has over six miles of trail that are open for hiking or observing wildlife. Pick up the pace on a trail designated for jogging, bicycles, and pets or look for the many animals – like deer, owls, turtles, and squirrels – frequently seen exploring the park grounds. The trails are designed for easy to moderate hikes, so people who are not seasoned hikers should be able to manage with little difficulty.
Radnor Lake State Park, Oak Hill, TN, USA, +1 615 373 3467
Fall Creek Falls State Park is the largest and most visited park in Tennessee. Its appeal is largely centered around the 256-foot waterfall, Fall Creek Falls, but a few smaller waterfalls, streams, gorges, and greenery within the park make this hike a nature lover’s paradise. Roundtrip, the hiking trail is approximately three miles long and is moderately difficult.
Fall Creek Falls State Park, Spencer, TN, USA, +1 423 881 5298
Not only does Natchez Trace have hiking trails ranging from one-half mile to 4.5 miles, the park also has a 40-mile overnight trail. As you hike, enjoy lakeside and forest views that wind through fields and beside streams. The Garrison Creek Trail is located just outside the city of Franklin and has a 6.3-mile loop.
Natchez Trace State Park, Wildersville, TN, USA, +1 731 968 3742
Several different hiking trails at Big South Fork range from short and easy hikes to strenuous multi-day routes. The park has 14 different trails for day hikes, providing access into the park, views of waterfalls and scenic overlooks. Whether it’s to spend a couple hours or half a day, take an easy trail or be challenged on a difficult path, Big South Fork River & Recreation Area has more than enough options when it comes to hiking.
Big South Fork River & Recreation Area, Oneida, TN, USA, +1 423 569 9778
Besides offering environmental education programs and outdoor recreation programs, Beaman Park Nature Center also allows you to take in the sights and sounds of Nashville on the hiking trails at Beaman Park. Three trails span five miles, nestled among steep slopes, unique plants, streams, and waterfalls.
Beaman Park Nature Center, Nashville, TN, USA, +1 615 862 8580
Situated in Eastern Tennessee, Cherokee National Forest stretches from Chattanooga all the way to North Carolina’s border. At 650,000 acres, the forest is the largest area of public land in Tennessee. There are many different hiking trails for day hikes, including easy level paths like the Rhododendron Trail, a 1.6-mile trail that takes you along the Ocoee River. The Indian Boundary Lake Trail leads you around Indian Boundary Lake for 3.1 miles, giving you a view of the mountains in the area. More advanced hikers can enjoy one of the many other day hiking areas and trails that are more challenging.
Cherokee National Forest, Cleveland, TN, USA, +1 423 476 9700
The Alum Cave Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains takes hikers through a hardwood forest across Alum Cave Creek and the Arch Rock tunnel. Just 2.3 miles from the trailhead are the Alum Cave Bluffs. Several more miles down lies Mount LeConte. Stunning mountain views and exposed cliffs surround the hiking paths.
Alum Cave Trail, Gatlinburg, TN, USA, +1 865 436 1200
Among the many waterfalls and hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains is the Trillium Gap Trail, which takes you to Grotto Falls. The moderately difficult trail, which has rocky parts, runs behind the 25-foot waterfall through a hemlock forest. Roundtrip, Trillium Gap is three miles, but it’s only 2.6 miles to Grotto Falls.
Trillium Gap Trail, Gatlinburg, TN, USA, +1 865 436 1200
Hikers who visit Rock Island State Park are usually interested in the Caney Fork Gorge. There are nine hiking trails above the limestone gorge, which runs between Great Falls Dam and Twin Falls. The trails are mostly moderate in difficulty, but there are a few strenuous ones. The longest trail, Collins River Natural Trail, is a three-mile loop, while others are between one and two miles. Find wildflowers and blue herons among the residents in the area.
Rock Island State Park, Rock Island, TN, USA, +1 931 686 2471
With over 90 miles of hiking trails, South Cumberland State Park has plenty to explore. Three separate Ranger Districts have their own hiking options: from scenic overlooks of the Cumberland Plateau to serene walks through wildflower meadows, each trail allows the chance to experience the Tennessee wilderness. Encounter wildlife or walk past one of the many waterfalls.
South Cumberland State Park, Monteagle, TN, USA, +1 931 924 2956