Tennessee State Parks
Tennessee state parks boast some amazing scenery and a wide variety of recreational and historical attractions. You may be surprised at all the wonderful things they have to offer. Listed below, you’ll find the parks located in East Tennessee, grouped by regions, starting roughly from north to south.
Tennessee State Parks near the Tri Cities:
Kingsport, Johnson City, Elizabethon
Warriors' Path: Located on the shores of Patrick Henry Lake, this lovely 950 acre Tennessee state park offers a wide variety of activities. There are over 8.5 miles of bike trails, nearly 12 miles of hiking trails, a paved walking path around Duck Island, and an equestrian trail. Guided horseback rides are available at the riding stables.
The park features boat ramps and a marina, which also rents paddle boats and canoes. Pleasure boating, skiing and fishing are all popular activities. There's an excellent playground, a swimming pool, disc golf, plenty of picnic sites, and an 18 hole golf course. Accommodations include campsites for both tents and RVs. Warriors' Path is located in Kingsport.
Sycamore Shoals: This historic park features a reconstruction of Fort Watauga, originally built in 1775 and named Fort Caswell. There's also a visitor center, picnic facilities, and a 2 mile hiking trail along the Watauga River. The park also offers programs throughout the year to bring history alive. Sycamore Shoals is located in Elizabethton.
Roan Mountain: At an elevation of 3,000 to 3,700 feet, this 2,006 acre Tennessee state park offers beautiful scenery, fresh mountain breezes, and an abundance of recreational activities. And as if that's not enough, only 8 miles away you'll find the Appalachian Trail, which passes through the stunning vistas of high mountain balds and the famous Rhododendron Gardens of Roan Mountain. If you can time your visit for late June when the rhododendrons bloom, so much the better.
The park offers fishing in the Doe River, 12 miles of hiking trails, 2.25 miles of mountain bike trails, a swimming pool, playgrounds, picnic facilities, and sports facilities. The Miller Homestead, built in 1909 is preserved and open to visitors seasonally. Accommodations include both tent and RV camping and cabin rentals. Many special events are held here throughout, including the Rhododendron Festival in June and the Autumn Harvest in October. The park is located about 13 miles southeast of Elizabethton on Highway 19E.
Davy Crockett Birthplace: It turns out that Davy Crockett wasn't born on a mountaintop, as the Disney song would have it, but along the Nolichucky River. The 105 acre park features a reconstruction of a typical frontier cabin, a museum, picnic facilities, and a swimming pool. Fishing is available on the river, and both tent and RV campsites are available. The park is located between Greeneville and Jonesborough on Highway 11E.
Tennessee State Parks
Norris Dam: A popular place for boating, skiing and fishing, this 4,038 acre Tennessee state park offers a fully equipped marina and boat ramp, plus pontoon boats for rent. The park is divided in two sections: the east side of the dam and the west side. Facilities include miles of woodland hiking trails, picnic facilities, a swimming pool, playgrounds and sports facilities, with equipment available for loan.
The Lenoir Museum is located in a separate area just southeast of the dam. There are two campgrounds for both tents and RVs, and cabin rentals are available. Norris Dam is located about 20 miles northwest of Knoxville.
Big Ridge: Located on the wooded shores of Norris Lake, this Tennessee state park offers a variety of recreational activities. Big Ridge features 3,687 acres with over 15 miles of hiking trails, seasonal boat rentals and a swimming beach on Big Ridge Lake, fishing year round, and a playground and playing fields for a variety of sports activities.
The park contains some historic structures, including the Norton Gristmill, built in 1825. Accommodations include rustic cabin rentals, RV and tent camping, a group camp, and backcountry camping. The park is about 25 miles north of Knoxville.
Cove Lake: Located on the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau, this 673 acre Tennessee state park is a lovely spot for a little relaxation and recreation. The park features year-round fishing, non-motorized boat rentals, a 3.5 mile paved hiking and biking trail, picnic areas, an outdoor swimming pool complex, and a variety of playgrounds and playing fields with free equipment lending available in season. There are 100 campsites for both tent and RVs. There's even a restaurant and meeting facilities. Cove Lake is about 30 northwest of Knoxville on US 25W and I-75
Fort Loudoun: This 1200 acre park is both a historic site and a recreational facility. Fort Loudoun was one of the earliest British forts on the western frontier, and has been reconstructed in its original location on what is now Tellico Lake. A visitor center and museum details the history of the fort, and special programs bring that history to life.
In addition, the park offers boating, fishing, hiking and picnicking. Two public boat docks border the park, and there's a fishing dock located in the picnic area. The park is located near Vonore, about 31 miles southwest of Knoxville.
Panther Creek: Located on the shores of Cherokee Lake, this 1435 acre Tennessee state park offers boating, fishing, biking, hiking, horseback riding and swimming. While the park has no boating facilities, nearby commercial marinas offer boat launching and rentals, as well as fishing supplies.
There are 7 miles of equestrian trails, 13 hiking trails and 5 hiking only trails. The park's swimming pool is open seasonally. The park features a playground, tennis courts, soccer field, and picnic facilities. Camping is available for both tents and RVs. Panther Creek is located at Morristown, about 32 miles north of Knoxville.
Tennessee State Parks
on the Cumberland Plateau
Indian Mountain: You'd never know that this 200 acre park is a reclaimed strip mine. Located at the base of a mountain, it's now green and lovely, with two small lakes for fishing, two walking trails, picnic facilities and a swimming pool. Both tent and RV camping is available. Indian Mountain is located on the Kentucky border near Jellico, Tennessee off of I-75.
Pickett: Located in a rugged section of the Cumberland Plateau, this Tennessee state park is best known for its rock formations, mountain streams, spring wildflowers and other botanical wonders. Over 58 miles of hiking trails wander through the park and the surrounding Pickett State Forest.
Arch Lake is stocked with trout and has a sandy swimming beach and a dock area where fishing boats and canoes can be rented. The lake is small, only 12 acres, but picturesque. The park also features a nature center, picnic facilities, and a playground.
Accommodations include rental cabins and campsites for both tents and RVs. Pickett is located right next to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, which adds even more recreational opportunities.
Frozen Head: This scenic Tennessee state park in the Cumberland Mountains is best known for its spectacular views and profuse wildflower displays in spring. At 3,324 feet, Frozen Head is one of the highest peaks on the Plateau. From the observation tower on its summit, you can see the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee Valley and Smoky Mountains on a clear day. Add in lush vegetation, interesting rock formations, mountain streams and waterfalls, and you've got a keeper.
Activities include biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and picnicking. The park features an amphitheatre for park programs, over 80 miles of scenic trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, and sports facilities. Accommodations include primitive campsites (with a modern bathhouse), backcountry camping and a group camp. Frozen Head is about 31 miles west of Knoxville.
Cumberland Mountain: Enjoy the beauty of the Cumberland Plateau with plenty of recreational activities, including fishing, boating, hiking, and great golf. The park offers rental boats on Byrd Lake, miles of hiking trails, picnic facilities, playground and sports facilities, and the Jack Nicklaus designed Bear Trace Golf Course.
Accommodations include tent and RV campsites and fully-equipped rental cabins. There's even a restaurant in the park. Cumberland Mountain is located in Crossville, about 61 miles west of Knoxville.
Fall Creek Falls: As you might guess, this Tennessee state park is best known for its many waterfalls, its namesake, Fall Creek Falls, being the most dramatic of these.
There's plenty to do at this lovely 20,000 acre resort park, including hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, boating, fishing, golfing and swimming. The park boasts lots of amenities: boat rentals, a swimming pool complex, horse stables, a nature center, picnic facilities, playgrounds and sports fields, bicycle trails, hiking trails, and a top-rated golf course.
Accommodations include tent and RV camping, group camping, fully-equipped cabin rentals, a group lodge, and the Park Inn. Fall Creek Falls is a bit off the beaten track, about 28 miles south of Crossville.
South Cumberland: This unusual Tennessee state park is made up of 10 different areas spread out over 4 counties, but managed as one park. Hiking is the most popular activity here, and with all the waterfalls, rocky outcrops, and dramatic overlooks, there's much to see.
The park features primitive campgrounds and a museum, as well as playgrounds and sports facilities. The visitor center is located on Highway 41 between Monteagle and Tracy City, about 31 miles west of Chattanooga.
Cumberland Trail: This 300 mile trail stretches from the Cumberland Gap National Park on the border of Kentucky all the way south to Signal Point near Chattanooga. It allows hikers to access some of the more remote and scenic areas of the Cumberland Plateau. The trail is not yet complete, but some 150 miles of it are open.Cumberland Trail.org has detailed hiking information and maps.
Tennessee State Parks
Booker T. Washington: Located on the shores of Chickamauga Lake, just north of Chattanooga, this 353 acre Tennessee state park is a lovely spot for fishing, boating, hiking and biking. Facilities include boat launch ramps, fishing piers, a 6 mile loop bike trail, picnic sites, an olympic size swimming pool with wading pool, playgrounds and sports fields.
Harrison Bay: This 1,200 acre scenic Tennessee state park on the shores of Chickamauga Lake offers an abundance of recreational activities on both water and land. There is an excellent marina and a public boat ramp, though no rental boats are available. Fishing is available year round.
The park features a 4.5 loop bike trail and three hiking trails. There are picnic facilities, a swimming pool complex, and playgrounds, playing fields and various sports facilities. For golfers there's the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, one of the best golf courses in the state.
Campsites are available for both tents and RVs, and the park also features a group campsite with 24 rustic cabins. The park is about 14 miles north of Chattanooga.
Red Clay: This 263 acre state historic park was the site of the last seat of Cherokee government before they were forced to relocate to what is now Oklahoma, along the Trail of Tears.
The park features a visitor's center with a small museum and theater, plus reconstructions of a Cherokee Council House, small cabins and a typical Cherokee farm. A natural spring, Blue Hole Spring, provided water for the Cherokee. The park also includes picnic facilities, and a 1.7 mile loop trail. Red Clay is located in the southeast corner of Tennessee at the Georgia state line, about 22 miles east of Chattanooga.
Hiwassee/Ocoee: Located in the southeast corner of the Cherokee National Forest, these two rivers offer an abundance of recreational opportunities. A 23 mile section of the Hiwassee River has been designated a Tennessee Scenic River and is a popular spot for canoeing and rafting. Rapids are mostly Class I-II (easy and novice) with a few class III (intermediate), making the Hiwassee a good spot for some gentle paddling.
Fishing is also popular here, as is hiking along the John Muir Trail, which follows the river. There's also a hiking and equestrian trail at the Gee Creek Campground.
Primitive campsites are available at Gee Creek, and camping is allowed along parts of the John Muir Trail. There are also many picnic sites along the river, most with tables, grills and restrooms.
The Ocoee River is a top choice for serious whitewater rafters and kayakers, and there are plenty of outfitters offering guided rafting trips. Most of the facilities along the Ocoee are operated by the US Forest Service.
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