See Where Our Trails will Take You- National Trails Day 2019
As early as the 1500’s, people were exploring the area, either by foot or on the waterways that connect the larger region. In the 9 Lakes of East Tennessee, there are many types of trails, ranging from national historic trails to local community greenways. Trails are a way for people to engage with the region and to experience personalized adventures. See where our trails will lead you!
Five adventure trail hikes in the 9 Lakes to explore:
Foot travel pathways such as the venerable Appalachian Trail (AT) have provided modern day explorers opportunities for discovery unlike any other mode of transportation. Hikers flock to the Smokies to walk the park trails. An alternative is to backpack a portion of the AT that skirts the Park. Winding through sections of the Cherokee National Forest, the AT provides uncrowded, challenging terrain with some of the most scenic vistas in the region. The 30.4 miles from Newfound Gap to the Davenport Gap shelter is a great two day hike. Add a third day and hike the additional 13.3 miles to Max Patch.
The Unicoi Turnpike Trail begins in the tiny community of Coker Creek. The Trail has been known by several names including the Tellico Path and the Overhill Trading Path and is now one of the sections of the Trail of Tears. Begin your journey with a visit to the Sequoyah Museum to learn more about the Overhill People. Head towards Coker Creek and the trailhead of the Unicoi Turnpike Trail. Once on the footpath, imagine the people who have walked this same place, including Benton Mackaye, of the Appalachian Trail, and John Muir on his thousand mile walk to the sea.
Another history laden trail is the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail in the Cumberland Gap National Park. In 1770, Daniel Boone explored the land beyond the mountains following the Warriors Path, an important hunting and trading trail for Native Americans. By 1794, a trace, or wagon road, was opened to pioneers seeking homesteads in the rich grasslands of Kentucky. Titled the Wilderness Road, the trail was used for over fifty years bringing more than 250,000 settlers to the American frontier. Hike the Wilderness Trail from the parking lot in Ewing, VA to the Iron Furnace in the Cumberland Gap and appreciate the terrain that the pioneers faced in their journey westward.
Not all great hikes start in the woods. In center of Knoxville is the Cradle of Country Music Trail, an urban walking tour that honors the rich legacy of music history in the 9 Lakes region. Long before Nashville became known as “Music City,” singers and writers flocked to Knoxville to perform on WNOX’s Merry-Go-Round Show or on the Cas Walker’s Farm and Home Variety Show. Legendary performers including Dolly Parton, Chet Atkins, Jimmy Martin, Bill Monroe, and the Everly Brothers boosted their careers from their time performing on the shows. The Cradle of Country Music walking tour begins at the WDVX studios on Gay St. The self- guided walking tour will take you through the streets of Knoxville, where so many young performers came to seek music fame.
Say sandstone arches and most people think Arches National Park in Utah. But here in the 9 Lakes, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Park has the second largest number of sandstone arches in the US and some of the most impressive arch spans. The most iconic arches in the Park are along the Twin Arches Loop Trail. The 4.6 mile loop trail will pass along several large rock shelters that were used by Native American and early settlers. Be prepared for some steep climbs on wooden stairs.
National Trails Day is more than a celebration; it is a way for people to embrace the opportunity to explore, learn, and understand the history and culture of a region or place.