Tennessee Vacation Ideas

Tennessee Vacation Ideas
Backpacking vacations in Tennessee run the gamut--from harsh and difficult challenges to rewarding and awe-inspiring respites. The state is home to an incredible number of hiking and backpacking opportunities, with trails of all lengths and difficulty available to explore. The state's parks and trails offer views of scenic splendor and wildlife--from majestic elk to soaring eagles.

Cumberland Trail

The Cumberland Trail is a system of several trails being slowly organized into one continuous trail through 11 counties in Tennessee to form a portion of The Great Eastern Trail. It consists of more than 300 miles of trails, starting at Cumberland Gap National Park and winding down to Chattanooga, Tenn., and the Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area. Volunteer opportunities exist for anyone who would like to help build or maintain the trail.

The trail is excellent for distance hikers. It approaches populated areas routinely in order to allow for resupplying but keeps scenery and water sources as primary goals. The trail passes through areas created to protect and preserve habitat, so abundant bird and wildlife observation is possible. It also leads to areas otherwise isolated and not accessible, so its natural treasures are found in better condition.

This trail is more primitive and less traveled than the better-known Appalachian Trail. GPS waypoints and maps are available for the length of the trail, noting trailheads and parking, towns and points of interest and topographic information.

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail crosses into Tennessee at Damascus, Va., and runs to Spivey Gap, just over the border of North Carolina. In addition to common sense and good backpacking practices, this trail has a number of rules for use which should be reviewed before heading off into the mountains.

Walk the full length of the Tennessee portion of the trail, choose any of the smaller point-to-point hikes, or head out for the day. Hike for distance or include frequent stops to enjoy scenery, flora and fauna.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park offers numerous day hiking opportunities and back-country hiking, backpacking and camping. The 800 miles of trails lead through what the government promotes as the most biological diversity of any area in the world's temperate zone--1,660 flowering plants, abundant wildlife and 100 native tree species.

Bring your horse, and ride up to 550 miles of trail within the park. Special camp sites and drive in horse camps make getting to back country trails easy.

Article Written By Alice Moon

Alice Moon is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has traveled throughout Asia. Moon holds a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ball State University.

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