(PRWEB) November 02, 2012
The East Tennessee River Valley boasts a spectacular and diverse trail network with opportunities for all from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee National Forest, and the Tennessee Overhill region to Tennessee Valley Authority lands, state parks, urban areas, and other locations. Late fall and winter bring cooler yet lovely weather, smaller crowds, and the opportunity to see scenic vistas and wildlife not visible when the leaves are on the trees.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, includes some of the most remote and rugged mountains in the Eastern United States with a wide array of trails for all levels of hikers. The Appalachian Trail runs approximately 72 miles through the Smokies on its way from Georgia to Maine. The park offers great options for day trips, like Charlies Bunion, Mt Cammerer fire tower, Ramsey Cascade, Andrews Bald. The most popular biking option is an 11 mile one-way loop around Cades Cove, a lush valley populated with wildlife and a wide array of historic buildings dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“Hikers enjoy the Smoky Mountains during all months of the year with every season offering its own special rewards” says Steve Kemp, Great Smoky Mountains Association.
The Cherokee National Forest, located in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of east Tennessee, is a 650,000 acre forest featuring more than 600 miles of trails, including 150 miles of the Appalachian Trail. One of the most popular destinations is the Tanasi Trail System, a 30 mile network for hiking and biking, in the Ocoee River section of the Forest. Hikers and bikers are challenged by the Bear Paw Loop Trail with its spectacular views of the Ocoee River and Whitewater Center, the home of the 1996 Olympic whitewater event. Mountain bikers enjoy the blistering, high energy 1.5 mile ride down the Thunder Rock Express. The International Mountain Bike Association (IBMA) has designated the Tanasi as one of the IMBA “Epic Rides”, a distinction given to a select few trail systems across the globe.
The Tennessee Valley Authority manages an extensive trail system along reservoirs and TVA-owned lands and has recently posted a new TVA webpage detailing the location, length and difficulty of its trails. One of the most popular is the 20 mile Raccoon Mountain Multi-use Trail system encircling a 528-acre reservoir just outside Chattanooga, TN. The trail system offers trails for novices and experts, offers beautiful vistas, and traverses through mixed hardwood forests and grasslands. Multiple mountain biking and trail running events occur on weekends during the spring, summer and fall months. Other popular TVA managed trails are located at Foster Falls and Whites Creek and along Norris and Tellico reservoirs.
Urban areas are developing extensive greenway systems for walkers and bikers. Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, only two miles from downtown Knoxville, presents a unique urban playground for hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners on thirty-five miles of natural surface trails connecting five parks and natural areas with public and private lands. The 11.5 mile South Loop offers easy to moderate trails for all users, including a 3.5 mile ADA accessible section connecting Ijams Nature Center, Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area, and William Hastie Natural Area.
In Chattanooga, a city that celebrates its river town legacy, visitors can hike across the Tennessee River via the historic Walnut Street Bridge to the Hunter Art Museum, the River Gallery Sculpture Park, or the Tennessee Aquarium. The City offers an innovative bike-sharing program that features 300 bikes at 28 docking stations throughout the scenic downtown area. Passes are inexpensive and allow people to use a bike when they want and return it to any station when they are done.
These are just a few of the many hiking and biking winter – and all year round - excursions available to visitors to the East Tennessee River Valley. Take a look at the East Tennessee River Valley Geotourism MapGuide to find out what makes this region a National Geographic Destination. The East Tennessee River Valley Geotourism MapGuide is an online planning guide to a region “Where Rivers and Mountains Meet,” from the Smoky Mountains through Knoxville, Chattanooga and North Georgia. The MapGuide promotes a travel ethic that places a high value on protecting the world’s distinctive places through wisely managed tourism and enlightened destination stewardship.
Use the MapGuide to plan your trip. Download the free mobile app. Sign up for the e-newsletter and like us on Facebook for information on upcoming events and places of interest.