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Outdoor Adventure in Tennessee

Enjoy a multitude of outdoor adventures in Tennessee, from hiking through state parks to relaxing by the waterfall. Tennessee offers something for all types of adventure seekers and you can spend a few days exploring historic sites, trekking across legendary trails, and enjoying breathtaking views of the water around scenic lakes and rivers. The Great Smoky Mountains bring thousands of travelers to Tennessee every year and you’ll find a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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You’ll find several recreation areas and historic parks around Tennessee and many have miles of trails and paved areas ripe for exploring. From Johnsonville State Historic Park to Montgomery Bell State Park, you can enjoy activities like bird watching, hiking, angle fishing, and other outdoor activities.

Head off on a hike on the Historic Johnsonville Trail to enjoy some amazing views. You can also head off on the Civil War Forts Trail for a challenging hike. Venture over to sites like the Cordell Hull Birthplace State Park to see the refurbished log cabin where Cordell Hull was born. You’ll also find a museum here that houses Hull’s personal items and can attend events like the Cordell Hull Folk Festival. When you’re in Nashville, head to the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park to enjoy the history, culture, and natural beauty of the area. It’s located near the Tennessee State Capitol building and the best way to experience it is with a ranger-led tour.

Tennessee is also blessed with national parks that provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature at its best and also take in some southern history. The most famous park in the entire state is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses more than 520,000 acres of land. You can spend your days hiking the rugged terrain to enjoy amazing views of the Appalachians and climb up to Clingmans Dome observation tower. Popular activities here include fishing, biking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and trekking the trails.

Since Tennessee played a pivotal role in the American Civil War, you can see dozens of Civil War sites as you make your way across the state. Several battlefields, military parks, and old forts are open to the public for tours and some feature exhibits and special programs to give you more details about important events that took place on these grounds. Don’t miss the chance to visit destinations like Shiloh National Military Park, Stones River National Battlefield, and Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park.

70 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail runs through Great Smoky Mountains National Park and takes you around some of the region’s most scenic rivers and natural sites. You can also head off on a trekking adventure on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail or the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Shiloh National Military Park is another park ripe for exploring, attracting thousands of visitors every year who want to learn about the Shiloh and Corinth Civil War battle sites. The 4,000-acre park has an interpretive center where you can see several exhibits and watch films about the Civil War. Self-guided auto tours are available and you can see the Confederate Memorial and Shiloh Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark here.

You can explore more than 9,000 acres of Civil War grounds at Chickamauga & Chattanooga Military Park. The park has preserved many Civil War sites and is also listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Head here to see Lookout Mountain with Point Park, Moccasin Bend, the Chickamauga Battlefield, and Missionary Ridge.

Tennessee is also blessed with several lakes, rivers, and waterfalls that you can access from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and other natural areas. Enjoy a self-guided hike or tour of Cherokee Lake, Ruby Falls, Percy Priest Lake, and other lakes and rivers to make the most of your outdoor adventure.