Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Explore Hiking Trails in Tennessee

With the warm weather comes ample opportunities to embark on a Made in Tennessee adventure.

Featured in this Article:

Hikes in East Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains Hiking
Hikes near Nashville
Hikes in and near Memphis

With the warm weather comes ample opportunities to embark on a Made in Tennessee adventure. Soak in the sunshine. Drink in the views from bluffs, hills and mountains. Exploration is calling you. Read below for hiking trails near Nashville, Memphis, the Great Smoky Mountains and more.

Hiking in East Tennessee

Devil's Racetrack – Caryville

Photo Credit: @erikawbdesign

The 3.5-mile trail is a moderate hike with steep inclines and sharp turns. The longest unbroken section of the Cumberland Trail is accessible from Cove Lake State Park, about 30 miles north of Knoxville. The panoramic views at the peak of the ridge are simply breathtaking. Stop for a breather to enjoy the three-level waterfall that can be seen cascading down the mountain. It's located on the Cumberland Trail alongside I-75.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area – Oneida

Hike from Pickett Park Highway in Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area to these double sandstone arches. Follow the trail to Charit Creek Lodge, that's located on the six-mile loop, and cool off in the rocky stream.

Great Smoky Mountains Hiking

Laurel Falls

Setting out on a hiking trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a memorable experience and the Laurel Falls hiking trail is exceptionally special. This 2.4-mile out-and-back moderately easy trail is semi-paved with a gorgeous waterfall at the end, which makes the up-hill walk worth it. This is one of the most popular trails in the Smokies, so expect to see lots of hikers unless you come during off-hours. Don’t forget to purchase your parking tag, as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has recently begun paid parking throughout the park.

House of Fairies

Photo Credit: @amy.b.abernethy

First developed by Louis E. Voorheis from 1928-1944, the 38-acre area was meant to be a mountain retreat. He loved to experiment with water power and started working on a dam for hydroelectric power. Voorheis built a water powered mill and many gardens as well as a pool and the springhouse which is now known as the House of Fairies. The land is now part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To see this beautiful structure and the scenic beauty around it, take the Twin Creeks Trail which is an out-and-back trail about 4.5 miles. You'll see the Voorheis Estate and can step inside the log cabins to see what living there was like, as well as the Natural Resources Center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Take the small path that juts off from Twin Creeks Trail to see the Fairy House.

Rainbow Falls

Photo Credit: @makethephotograph

Rainbow Falls is a popular spot in the Great Smoky Mountains, so make this an early morning hike if you want some time by yourself. The rountrip distance to the waterfall is 5.4 miles and is considered moderate in difficulty. It takes about 3.5 hours to visit the waterfall and return to the Rainbow Falls parking area. If you want to see where the waterfall gets its name, visit during a sunny afternoon and chances are you'll see a rainbow  from the 80-foot waterfall. 

Reagan Grist Mill

Photo Credit: @jonreynoldsphoto

Also on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is the Reagan Grist Mill, which is a great example of the tub mills that dotted along streams in the Appalachian Mountains. See the mini mill by turning onto Historic Nature Trail in downtown Gatlinburg. Travel 2.2 miles to the entrance of Cherokee Orchard Road. You'll find the mill at the end of the trail. Enjoy the babbling stream, history and scenic beauty at this tucked away location. 

Hiking near Nashville

Radnor Lake State Park – Nashville

An oasis in the otherwise fast-paced and urban landscape of Nashville, Radnor Lake State Park offers several trails even though it’s a modestly sized park. You can’t go wrong with the Radnor Lake Trail, an easy 2.7-mile loop. Add on the Radnor Full Lake and Ganier Ridge Trail for more of a challenge at 5.1 miles or combine trails for even more adventure – all while encircling the crown jewel that is Radnor Lake.

Montgomery Bell State Park – Burns

Natural beauty and family hikes are celebrated at Montgomery Bell State Park. Various trails are open to every guest. The longest trail is 10.4 miles and is destined as an overnight trail. Choose a short day hike ranging from 0.2-mile hikes to 1.7-mile hikes that bring you up close to Made in Tennessee natural beauty.

Hiking near Memphis

Johnsonville State Historic Park – New Johnsonville

The 2,000-acre Johnsonville State Historic Park is a wealth of history as it commemorates the Johnsonville Depot, the Battle of Johnsonville and the historic town of the area that was established 1864-1944. Explore these historic treasures on the 8-mile Historic Johnsonville Trail as you embark on natural surfaces. Travel along the 2-mile Civil War Forts Trail or the 0.5-mile African-American Cemetery Loop Trail.

Shelby Farms Park – Memphis

More than 40 miles of trails encompass this wildlife haven, Shelby Farms Park in East Memphis, including paved and unpaved. For more adventure, hit up the Wolf River Trails, which wind through the Lucius Burch Jr. State Natural Area. If you had more of a stroll in mind, mosey around the Hyde Lake Loop, which is especially breathtaking at sunset.

Fort Pillow State Park – Henning

The longest trail in Fort Pillow State Park is the moderate 9-mile hike along the Red Trail. Learn the history of the area thanks to the well-preserved breastworks and reconstructed inner fort. Transport through history as the park offers Civil War artifact viewings along with a cannon and interpretive displays related to the Fort. 

Pinson Mounds State Archeological Park – Pinson

Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park is more than 1,200 acres and home to at least 15 Native American mounds that were used as both burial and ceremonial locations. Hiking trails give guests access to the mounds. Choose from the 2-mile Mounds Great Outer Loop Trail along a paved surface, or any of the natural surface hikes: Nature Trail, Earthworks Trail and Hudson Branch Trail.

Looking for more outdoor activities? Check out more of our articles below

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