Grab A Leash and Hit the Trails of the Tennessee River Valley with Man’s Best Friend

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The Tennessee River Valley is a massive playground for humans and their four-legged companions. Many hiking trails, of all levels of difficulty, are pet-friendly and waiting to be explored.

Part of the East Lakeshore Trail System, the Morganton Branch is an easy three mile hike. (Photo credit: TVA)

If you are looking to replace your usual walk with something more adventurous, the Tennessee River Valley is filled with hundreds of trails varying from easy to moderate that you and your canine will love. Grab a leash and a four-legged companion and get to exploring.

Springtime is a great time to get outside and explore Mother Nature and all of her offerings. One way to see nature up close is by going on a hike. This activity has been growing in popularity and today it is not uncommon to encounter hikers with a four-legged companion. Many trails throughout the Tennessee River Valley are dog friendly, offering plenty of shaded trails and streams and lakes for cooling off.

“If you are looking to replace your usual walk with something more adventurous, the Tennessee River Valley is filled with hundreds of trails varying from easy to moderate that you and your canine will love. Grab a leash and a four-legged companion and get to exploring,” said Julie Graham, spokesperson for the Tennessee River Valley Mapguide Council.

Here are six popular areas that offer a pawfect getaway for hikers and their canine companion.

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area covers 170,000 acres in Western Tennessee and West Kentucky. Nestled between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, Land Between the Lakes offers hundreds of miles of interior trails dedicated to outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, backpacking, hunting and riding horses, mountain bikes and ATVs. Trails range from beginner to advanced. This outdoor oasis also boasts 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline for paddlers, boaters, fishermen and campers. Leashed pets are welcome on trails and in camping, picnic and parking areas.

A dog-friendly trail offering spectacular views leads to Bald River Falls located in Cherokee National Forest. Cascading over 100 feet onto the rocks below, the Falls flows into the scenic Tellico River that is ideal for kayaking, fishing or tubing. Bald River Falls can be viewed from the car or hike above the falls through the Bald River Gorge for even more incredible views. The area offers great scenery for taking photos, and picnic tables are available. Dogs are allowed on leash.

Located along the east shore of Tellico Lake in Tennessee, the East Lakeshore Trail was recently designated a National Recreation Trail by the Department of the Interior. The dog-friendly trail system measures 26 miles, with eight branches accessible from five trailhead kiosks. Many of the trails provide a peaceful walk along Tellico Lake and through forests. Hikers are encouraged to bring a camera as trail branches provide spectacular views of hill knobs and mountains. Many of the trails are located close to the lake allowing dogs an opportunity for a quick drink or swim.

Only two-miles from downtown Knoxville, Knoxville's Urban Wilderness presents a unique urban playground for hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners. Thirty-five miles of natural surface trails connect five parks and natural areas with public and private lands to create an unparalleled outdoor venue. The 11.5-mile main loop connects Ijams Nature Center, Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area, William Hastie Natural Area, Marie Myers Park and Anderson School with trailheads and parking along the route. The main loop offers easy to moderate trails for all users and the additional 24 miles of secondary trails accommodate users from beginner to advanced on dozens of trails of varying terrain. Pets are allowed on leash.

Location approximately 30 miles east of Johnson City, Tenn., Overlook Trail is a dog-friendly trail where a wide, graveled path leads hikers and their four-legged companions around the mountain to fabulous views of the Cherokee National Forest and Watauga Dam with its unique spillway. A side trail connects hikers to the Appalachian Trail, which crosses over Watauga Dam. The trailhead is on the Watauga Dam Reservation at the overlook. Pets must be kept on a leash no longer than 6-feet.

The Buck Island Trail is an easy and beautiful hike where dogs are allowed on leash. Located on TVA's Guntersville reservoir in northeastern Alabama, the trail provides a relaxing walk through the woods. This 250-acre area provides 2.2 miles of trails that wind past a wetland where there are plenty of bird watching opportunities and through the hardwood forest with exceptional views of Guntersville Reservoir. Pets are welcome but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6-feet.

Hikers are asked to always bring a leash and proper waste bags to clean up after your pooch. Fresh water may not be readily available so hikers are encouraged to carry extra for their pets, especially during summer months. Additional items to consider bringing are trail treats and insect repellent.

Along with these adventurous trails, the Tennessee River Valley offers a compelling story, captivating visitors with its little unknown facts, pristine, untouched areas and rich, authentic experiences. Plan a trip easily with the Tennessee River Valley Geotourism MapGuide, an online guide to explore authentic places and adventures that have been recommended by locals.

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